Rabbi Yigal Levinstein sues Galai Tzahal

Head of Eli pre-military Academy files defamation lawsuit over the editing of his comments to appear he is for conversion therapy.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Rabbi Yigal Levinstein
Rabbi Yigal Levinstein
צילום: אליאור בן חיים

Rabbi Yigal Levinstein, one of the heads of the "Bnei David" pre-military preparatory academy in the town of Eli, filed a defamation lawsuit today in the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court against Galai Tzahal (IDF Radio), for NIS 140,000.

According to the report by journalist Shlomi Heller, Rabbi Levinstein claimed that his statements on Galai Tzahal were selectively cited, edited and biased, and made to imply that he supports conversion therapy for LQBTQ minors when he had in fact stated that he opposes conversion therapy in the lecture which was quoted.

Last month, Galai Tzahal journalist Sachar Glick published recordings of a lesson Rabbi Levinstein gave at his yeshiva about raising a Jewish family in a time when pro-LGBTQ organizations are distorting family values.

"It’s possible to help people come back to being straight,” Rabbi Levinstein is heard saying in the recordings. He also is heard saying that if conversion therapy begins "at a young age when both inclinations may be present, it is easier to help."

When asked what age he is referring to, he is heard on the recording saying that "therapists speak about ages thirteen to fifteen, depending on when the inclination begins."

Rabbi Levinstein sent a response to the initial report on Army Radio: "I do not know what conversion therapy entails. It is an important lecture and you should listen to all of it, it is a legitimate position that it is important to make. The quotes are correct [but not complete] except for the quote about the age of starting the therapy." In another response he said that he is against conversion therapy but that it is possible for psychology to help young people and prevent their leading a difficult and painful life, except that anyone who says that is silenced."

The Eli pre-military academy released a statement following the Army Radio report saying: "At no point during the lecture last night, or in any other lecture delivered by Rabbi Yigal during all his decades as an educator, did the rabbi say he was in favor of conversion therapy. On the contrary, Rabbi Yigal also said last night that he was opposed to conversion therapy, but the reporter insisted on presenting things in a distorted and different manner than the one in which they were said. Unbelievable.. What journalistic negligence. From a recording where Rabbi Yigal says explicitly that he opposes conversion treatments, Galei Tzhal extracted a false headline, quoting Rabbi Yigal as saying: 'The most effective conversion treatments are at a very young age,' in another attempt to silence opinions, a forced attempt to tie terms that are unrelated to the rabbi to a respectful discourse held between the rabbi and his students."