Rabbi Peretz; 'I accept all children in Israel the way they are'

Rabbi Peretz says, 'What I said was based on students who felt terrible distress about their sexual orientation.'

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Rabbi Rafi Peretz
Rabbi Rafi Peretz
Photo by Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90

Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz clarified his remarks following the political storm in the wake of his statements about conversion treatment for homosexuals.

"I didn't claim that it's necessary to send children for conversion treatment," Peretz said. "During my years as an educator, I met with students who felt terrible distress regarding their sexual orientation and chose to use professionals to change their tendencies. What I said in the interview was based on my personal acquaintance with similar cases."

"The educational system in Israel under my leadership will continue to accept all children of Israel as they are, no matter what their sexual orientation is. I also clarified this during the interview."

The storm began following an interview with Rabbi Peretz on Channel 12 News, at which he said it's possible to perform conversion treatment with gays and lesbians. "I think it's possible. I can say that I have a deep knowledge of education and I did it."

Peretz was asked about his relationship with the gay community and replied: "I say this as education minister and as a citizen of the State of Israel. I respect everyone. I admit that I personally, as a rabbi in Israel - our Torah tells us other things."

He was asked how he would behave when a student approached him and said he had a homosexual orientation. He replied, "First of all, I would hug and speak to him warmly. I would tell him, 'Let's think, let's learn, let's look into it.' The goal is that he should first get to know himself well. I would give him the information and he needs to decide."

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he spoke with Rabbi Peretz and clarified: "The Education Minister's statements regarding the gay community are not acceptable to me and do not represent the stance of a government led by me."

"I spoke this evening with Rabbi Rafi Peretz, who explained himself and emphasized that Israel's educational system will continue to accept every Israeli child as he or she is, without discriminating based on gender identity or sexual orientation."