Education Minister Under Fire
Israel’s new Education Minister Rafi Peretz spurred an outcry nationwide after saying he supports gay conversion therapy, JTA reported.
During an interview on Channel 12 News, Peretz said, “It is possible to convert [someone’s sexual orientation]. I can tell you that I have deep familiarity on the issue of education, and I have also done it [practiced conversion therapy].”
Peretz said that for someone who is gay, the goal is “that first of all he gets to know himself better and then he can decide.”
In response, NBC reported, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that Peretz’s remarks “do not represent my government’s position,” and hundreds marched in anger in Tel Aviv.
Peretz has since sought to “clarify” his remarks, JNS.org reported, saying, “I believe that most of those who heard about the interview did not watch it. The responses distorted my words…. It isn’t my statement that they attack, but who and what I represent. I love and respect every person as he or she is.”
The comments come on the heels of another Peretz controversy, after he called intermarriage a “second Holocaust” during a July 1 cabinet meeting.
Israeli and Palestinian Business Owners Tour Dead Sea Area Together
Israeli and Palestinian business owners toured the Dead Sea region last week with the aim of building on connections made during last month’s “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Bahrain, according to JNS.org.
“We are engaging with numerous business models that expand cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian business communities,” said Judea-Samaria Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Avi Zimmerman.
Afula Rescinds Park Ban on Nonresidents
The northern Israeli city of Afula agreed to lift a ban on nonresidents visiting its parks after being accused of trying to keep Arabs out, JTA reported. The ban had become the subject of a lawsuit.
During his reelection campaign in November, Afula Mayor Avi Elkabetz ran on a platform of “preserving the Jewish character of Afula,” and said “the conquest of the municipal park must stop. We must proudly hoist Israeli flags throughout the park and play music in Hebrew,” The Times of Israel reported.
Two news programs found that the nonresident ban was only enforced when the family trying to enter the park was Arab.
Hamas Distances Itself From Official’s Call to Slaughter Jews
After a senior Hamas official gave a speech last week calling for Palestinians to slaughter Jews, Hamas has distanced itself from the remarks.
“You have Jews everywhere and we must attack every Jew on the globe by way of slaughter and killing, if God permits,” said Fathi Hammad in a speech broadcast on Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV. “How much does the neck of a Jew cost? … We will die while exploding and cutting the necks and legs of the Jews.”
“These statements do not represent the movement’s official positions and consistent, adopted policies that stipulate that our conflict is with the occupation … and not with Jews around the world or with Judaism as a religion,” the statement said.
Palestine Liberation Organization official Saeb Erekat tweeted that “the just values of the Palestinian cause include love for freedom, justice and equality. The repugnant statement of Hamas leader Mr. Fathi Hammad about Jews doesn’t represent any of them.” —JNS.org