Moshe Yaalon at "The Marker" conference
Moshe Yaalon at "The Marker" conferenceMotti Mildor

Former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon launched a scathing attack against the religious-Zionist establishment Wednesday, accusing its leaders of promoting "extremism".

Yaalon's comments, made in an address at a The Marker conference, came in response to the ongoing controversy over statements made by Rabbi Yigal Levinstein of the Eli religious pre-military academy, who referred to homosexuals as "deviants."

The former defense minister called to sanction the academy, or mechina, in response.

"I heard expressions from someone who is meant to prepare youngsters in a pre-military academy, one which has produced many quality commanders in the IDF," said Yaalon.

"I don't recall such a discourse in an academy like this a few years ago. This is extremism in the (religious-Zionist) sector," he asserted, calling on the defense ministry, education minister and the IDF itself to act immediately against the institution in response.

Yaalon added: "This requires introspection from the national-religious sector, regarding the most dangerous kind of radicalization process."

Yet he then went on to criticize attacks on IDF officers for expressing controversial opinions - such as Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan, who compared Israeli society to Nazi Germany, before quickly backtracking.

"To shut mouths? To fire people? On the contrary, they should make themselves heard and challenge us," Yaalon stated, while calling for a change of leadership in Israel.

He also lashed out at his successor, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, for summoning the head of IDF Radio over a program which celebrated an anti-Zionist Arab nationalist.

"I've heard what they're doing to IDF Radio, it's called Pravda," he sniped. "We need another leadership which knows how to deal with these problems.