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Israeli minister calls intermarriage a ‘second Holocaust’ and endorses gay conversion therapy

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Israel’s new Education Minister Rafi Peretz, leader of the far-right Union of Right Wing Parties, caused international uproar when he compared intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews in the US to a “second Holocaust, and later expressed his support for gay conversion therapy.

The criticism about the ”second Holocaust” comment was most vociferous abroad. Head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Jonathan Greenblatt said that “it’s inconceivable to use the term ‘Holocaust’ to describe Jews choosing to marry non-Jews”, that “it alienates so many members of our community” and that “this kind of baseless comparison does little other than inflame and offend.”

Criticism of the gay conversion therapy was most vociferous inside Israel, as the comment is now a mainstream offense in Israel (the new Justice Minister Amir Ohana of Likud is openly gay). Thus the new left-center Netanayhu rival Ehud Barak tweeted:

“*Netanyahu’s*Education Minister promotes conversion therapy for LGBT?! A medieval government?? Chaos and [Bezalel] Smotrich upon the abyss? Hello, here is Israel 2019. Bibi, you will convert no one. We will convert your government of darkness with an enlightened government, of equality, values and democracy”.

From the center, Blue and White opposition chief Benny Gantz said Peretz’s comments were “illegitimate” and said the right of every person to live as they see fit was “a cornerstone of Israeli democracy”. Blue and White No. 2 Yair Lapid tweeted that “until Rafi Peretz undergoes conversion treatment from his dark and insane opinions, he cannot continue serving as education minister.”

But as for intermarriage, this issue is far more complex in Israel, not least because leftists and centrists alike have expressed very similar opinions historically.

In the early 1970’s, Labor Prime Minister Golda Meir said that anyone who commits intermarriage is “joining the 6 million”, alluding to the Holocaust. That’s pretty much what Peretz said.

Last year, former Labor and opposition leader Isaac Herzog said that intermarriage is a “plague”, on his first day of work as head as head of the parastatal Jewish Agency. Herzog later disingenuously backpedaled, suggesting that “plague” meant something different than you’d think in Hebrew, which it doesn’t.

And the centrist ‘liberal’ Yair Lapid, who now condemns Peretz for his “insane” opinions about gays, has also expressed his dismay with intermarriage – and the context was frighteningly fascist: In the wake of a so-called “mixed marriage” that took place on August 17, 2014 (so-called because both partners were Muslim – the woman had simply converted from Judaism), at which the fascist Lehava ‘anti-miscegenation’ organisation had demonstrated, Lapid spoke on an Israel Waves radio program saying, “It would bother me if my son married a non-Jew… It would bother me greatly.” 

This is the same conundrum that faced Yair Lapid recently, when he tweeted from the shower in favor of a “state for all its citizens” in response to Transport Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Rafi Peretz’s nr. 2 in the party). When Lapid realized that he had just caused a major storm over equality, he tried to assert that he only meant rights for LGBT, not Palestinians.

The “Holocaust” notion about Jewish intermarriage is directly related to the “demographic” concern about Palestinian births endangering the Jewish majority. And it’s the same logic that makes a “state of all its citizens” such an indefensible idea. Israel may be liberal on LGBT, but it’s not liberal in relation to the demographic concern of Jewish superiority. This is why, although Prime Minister Netanyahu distanced himself from Peretz’s words about gays, he basically endorsed his claim about intermarriage in the cabinet meeting where they were said.

Peretz’s “Holocaust” euphemism has likewise been used by Israeli ministers in recent years to address the intermarriage issue:

Last year, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, member of the National Union, also a part of the Union of Right-Wing Parties, sent a letter to employees at his ministry discussing the “assimilation Holocaust.” According to Ariel, “During the Holocaust, we’ve lost about six million Jews. Without at all comparing the two, we’re losing a part of our people to assimilation.”

Fellow National Union member Eli Ben Dahan said in 2014, while he was deputy minister for religious affairs that intermarriage is “a silent Holocaust. We must remember that the Jewish people, unfortunately, has gone through a Holocaust. It has been diminishing over the past century … In Europe we have as much as 80 percent intermarriages; in the United States it’s 66 percent. It’s horrible.” 

The “demographic concern” is a mainstream Zionist racial concern. Essentially, the concern is not for people as such, but for their ability to serve as part of a potential body-count vs Palestinians. Although these Jews live abroad, for Israel they are a part of the “Jewish nation”, and thus eligible for immediate citizenship under Israel’s Law of Return. If that bank of bodies diminishes, Israel’s ability to uphold the Jewish racial body-count will diminish too.

The more liberal Zionists seek to separate this concern, which is inherently illiberal, inasmuch as it entails control over who you marry, from other issues such as attitudes towards LGBT. But since the illiberal demographic issue is so central to the perpetuation of Israel as the “Jewish state,” it is an Achilles heel that allows the more fundamentalist, religious Zionist forces to gain influence, and thus to insert other fundamentalist notions concerning gays etc. 

It all goes back to Zionism’s inherently illiberal, colonialist and militarist vein. In the early 1970’s, Golda Meir was interviewed by Stewart Alsop for Newsweek, where Alsop asked about the “corrupting influence” of the 1967 occupation on “Liberal Jewish tradition”. Meir:

I’ll answer you honestly: I do not want a Jewish people who are liberal, anti-colonialist, anti-militaristic… and dead. 

She knew then that the Zionist venture had to discount liberalism, that it was about colonialism and militarism, and that if you had a problem with that, you were just weak and you would die. Israel always offers “existential” excuses for its policies.

And Meir’s words echo not only in Rafi Peretz’s words, but also in the words of the Hitler-Praising rabbis in the military prep-school in Eli, a yeshiva institution that Rafi Peretz is a strong supporter of. Recently Rabbi Giora Radler was caught on tape saying the following:

The Holocaust for real is not about the killing of Jews – that’s not the Holocaust. All of these excuses claiming that it was based on ideology or that it was systematic, this is ridiculous. Because it was based on ideology, to a certain extent, makes it more moral than if people murdered people for no reason. Humanism, all the secular culture about us believing in the human, that’s the Holocaust. The Holocaust, for real, is being pluralist, believing in “I believe in the human”. That’s what’s called a Holocaust. The Lord (blessed be his name) is already shouting for many years that the [Jewish] exile is over, but people don’t listen to him, and that is their disease, a disease which needs to be cured by the Holocaust.

Israel’s push towards religious fundamentalism is not an incidental occurrence. It is a logical consequence of its inherently racist, illiberal character. In that light, the protection of LGBT rights serves as pinkwashing. Ehud Barak can talk about “equality”, but it’s not what he really means, just like Yair Lapid didn’t really mean it. Barak can extol “democracy”, but he means “Jewish and democratic”, that is, a democracy for Jews. The “equality” is for Jews (some say also LGBT Jews). Unless that greater racial and racist supremacist paradigm is addressed and relinquished, Israel will continue in this direction.  

Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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18 Responses

  1. LiberatePalestine on July 15, 2019, 11:17 am

    The demand to «convert» Jewish queer people goes hand in hand with the racist complaint about Jewish outmarriage: both serve to promote a high birth rate among Jews.

    These same people won’t want to «convert» non-Jewish queer people, nor will they give a tinker’s damn about intermarriage among non-Jewish groups.

    • Mooser on July 15, 2019, 2:36 pm

      “both serve to promote a high birth rate among Jews.”

      How well do you suppose it is working?

      • LiberatePalestine on July 15, 2019, 4:00 pm

        Not very. That’s why they’re desperately trying to get the settler population to expand itself through racially desirable breeding.

      • Mooser on July 16, 2019, 1:40 pm

        ” through racially desirable breeding.”

        To concentrate all the desirable genes in succeeding generations. So that all kinds of traits which might be smothered into recessiveness by out-marriage can express themselves!

      • LiberatePalestine on July 16, 2019, 3:27 pm

        That’s another argument against the myth by which Jews allegedly have bred only with Jews for two thousand years. Were that true, today’s Jews would be more inbred and defective than the many dynasties of royalty or nobility that have striven to keep it in the family.

      • Mooser on July 16, 2019, 4:35 pm

        ” Were that true, today’s Jews would be more inbred and defective than the many dynasties of royalty or nobility”

        Yes, we have the stamp of royalty.

    • Misterioso on July 16, 2019, 9:46 am

      @LiberatePalestine, et al

      Once again, we are reminded of the ugly shocking similarity between Germany’s Third Reich and Zionism. No one should be surprised:
      Short video, July 10/19:
      “Israel’s education minister has come under fire after reportedly saying diaspora Jews marrying out of the religion is ‘like a second Holocaust.’”

      Rabbi Perin, in an eulogy for mass murderer, Baruch Goldstein, in 1994: ‘One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.’ (New York Times, Feb. 28, 1994)

      In April, 2001, during his Passover sermon, Rabbi Ovadia Yossef, the spiritual leader of the Shas party and former Israeli Chief Rabbi, described the Arabs as ‘serpents’ and in his Passover sermon, he stated that ‘the Lord shall waste their seed, devastate them and vanish them from this world. It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable.’

      Regarding Palestinians residing in the occupied West Bank, Raphael Eitan, then Israel’s Chief of Staff, declared: ‘When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle….(New York Times, 14 April 1983)

      Prime Minister Ehud Barak: ‘The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more…’ (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 30, 2002)

      “Former Foreign Ministry director-general invokes South Africa comparisons. ‘Joint Israel-West Bank’ reality is an apartheid state.”
      EXCERPT: “Similarities between the ‘original apartheid’ as it was practiced in South Africa and the situation in ISRAEL [my emphasis] and the West Bank today ‘scream to the heavens,’ added [Alon] Liel, who was Israel’s ambassador in Pretoria from 1992 to 1994. There can be little doubt that the suffering of Palestinians is not less intense than that of blacks during apartheid-era South Africa, he asserted.” (Times of Israel, February 21, 2013)

      “The Racist Entity That Is Taking Over Israel Must Be Toppled” Haaretz, Feb 27, 2011, by Sefi Rachlevsky
      EXCERPT: “…Israel has built a world where the Jews are citizens and the Arabs are not, both in the occupied territories and in Jerusalem; where a Jewish man is a citizen and his Arab neighbor is not. Most Jewish first-graders attend ultra-Orthodox and religious schools. The majority of them are educated along the lines of ‘The King’s Torah.’ A Jew is human. A non-Jew is non-human. ‘Thou shalt not kill’ does not apply to non-Jews. And this is not delivered in the form of incitement, but as a simple statement of a fact. As simple as calling a chair a chair.”

  2. Kay24 on July 15, 2019, 12:50 pm

    No wonder the Evangelicals support Israel. It is amusing to see the hasbara comments stating just how “open minded” they are (unlike their backward Arab neighbors), and yet here you get top officials showing how close minded they are, when it comes to being gay. Another event that I recall is the terrible stabbing of people during a gay parade over there. The zionists are great at putting down their neighbor, and pretending they are more superior.

  3. Elizabeth Block on July 16, 2019, 11:08 am

    Well, well. Next time a Zionist attacks us at our weekly vigil, saying that Israel is a safe place for queers, I’ll remember that an Israeli minister of education is in favour of “conversion therapy.”

  4. James Canning on July 16, 2019, 11:55 am

    I continue to think high rates of intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews is a good thing for the US and for the rest of the world.

    • Mooser on July 16, 2019, 1:36 pm

      Funny, all those “second Holocaust” whiners never seem to see any disadvantage in strict endogamy within a restricted group.

      • Talkback on July 17, 2019, 3:10 am

        Hah! I was going to say something similar. Why isn’t he advocating a Nonjew conversion therapy because of this pikuach nefesh?!

        When he was an outgoing IDF chief rabbi they wanted to replace him with Eyal Karim who said it was permitted to rape Nonjewish women during war as part of maintaining fitness and morale.

  5. CigarGod on July 16, 2019, 3:05 pm

    There it is in plain sight.
    Not even 100 years later.
    “Never again” means – but just fine if we do it-

    • eljay on July 17, 2019, 7:50 am

      || CigarGod: … “Never again” means – but just fine if we do it- ||

      Two of Zionism’s core tenets are:
      – Acts of injustice and immorality committed against Jews justify acts of injustice and immorality committed by Jews.
      – Jews are entitled to do unto others acts of injustice and immorality they would not have others do unto them.

      • CigarGod on July 17, 2019, 8:55 am

        Additionally, all the zionists I grew up with, enthusiastically accepted the concept of non-proportional response. “If you kill 1 of ours, we’ll kill 10 of yours” was the most commonly used example.
        Only after an actual visit did I realize the reality was quite different than the example.
        “If you kill 1 of ours, we’ll kill 10 of yours…which we have imprisioned, so its like shooting starving fish in a barrel.”

  6. Rashers2 on July 17, 2019, 10:30 am

    I’ve never believed Zionism or the Zionist political entity to be “liberal” when it comes to its attitudes towards (male) homosexuality. There are too many instances of the mask’s slipping, among rabid “Religious Zionists” both in- and outside the rabbinate and in- and outside Israel. Conservative Diaspora Zionists like ex- Chief Rabbi Jonathan (Lord) Sacks make no secret of their backward views on homosexuality. The “pinkwashing” of Israel is merely an element of Hasbara, a way of misinforming the outside world. Strip away the Hasbara and the prejudice and condemnation remain. If the religious right had its way in Israel then – just as in the USA and elsewhere in the West – re-criminalisation and persecution would be the logical consequences. Logical, because it’s all about hatred of “otherness”, as are the Zio-supremacism and ethno-religious discrimination inherent in Zionism.
    Hasbara Central is fond of pointing out the “superior” record of Israel on gay rights compared with its Muslim neighbours, including some to which Israel has recently become far closer owing to a common enmity towards Iran (e. g., KSA), where male homosexuality remains illegal because it is interpreted to be contrary to scriptural teaching*. The fact that, in a number of other Middle-Eastern Muslim countries, discreet male homosexuality is subjected to an assiduously-practised blind eye naturally goes unmentioned.
    * The generally-accepted wisdom that the Quran itself expressly forbids male homosexuality is untrue; it derives from post-Mohammedan scriptural scholars’ commentaries on the Quran. Sound familiar? C/f Talmud vs. Torah; King James’ translation of the Bible, on which all derivative English-language versions are based (the prohibition is believed by some to have been introduced through the translators to make a political point at James I’s expense, the King’s having openly conducted a relationship with James Villiers).

  7. Vera Gottlieb on July 21, 2019, 11:15 am

    From which planet does he come from??? To me, it is no wonder that anti Semitism is on the rise – people like this guy being one of the causes.

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