Rafi Peretz under fire after newest wave of homophobic comments

Education Minister Rafi Peretz, in an interview with Yediot Aharonot, additionally spoke of deporting children of illegal immigrants and limiting Palestinians to vote in local elections alone.

MK Rafi Peretz, 2019. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
MK Rafi Peretz, 2019.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Schools across the country will be discussing equal rights and tolerance after Education Minister Rafi Peretz in an interview with Yediot Aharonot published on Friday, made controversial homophobic statements again.

“Thank God my children grew up naturally and healthily,” he said in response to a question about what he would do if one of his children were to come out of the closet.

Peretz was interviewed in the wake of an expected union in the right-wing bloc as the deadline for lists to be submitted to the Central Elections Committee looms closer. Parties have until Wednesday at midnight to finalize their list, and negotiations are still ongoing among parties to the right of the Likud, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett refuses to be with extremists, making these negotiations drag on.

Peretz, in the interview, claimed that a normative family is “with a man and a woman, and should be kept [that way].”

Knesset members who are LGBTQ did not mince words in their responses to Peretz on social media, many of which uploaded photos of their families.

Democratic Union leader Nitzan Horowitz tweeted a photograph of his family, saying, "Rafi Peretz is a lowly man. This is how the education minister intends to scrape votes from the extreme right.

“Who are you to tell me how to live my life?” he continued. “Wishing everyone different parents than you.”

“Look, Rabbi Rafi, this is what a ‘natural and healthy’ family looks like in a country in disarray that has let you be its education minister,” tweeted MK Itzik Shmuli of the Labor-Gesher party.

Blue and White MK Eitan Ginsburg posted his response on his Facebook page, saying that Peretz should “come and look [his children] in their eyes, in front of their friends and their families. Come and tell them to their faces that they are growing up in an unnatural and unhealthy family. Come and tell them that the love their parents have for them is lesser than the love you have for your children.”

Likud MK Amir Ohana, who is openly gay, was noticeably absent from the procession of responses to Peretz.

Numerous local authorities released statements, including those of Ramat Gan, Givatayim and Hod Hasharon, saying that they will not be taking the education minister’s comments into account and will instead be treating each member of their respective communities equally.

“This is what is necessary in order to make a change, even when the government postpones issues and when Netanyahu courts dark Kahanists like Rafi Peretz and Itamar Ben Gvir, who want to educate the children of Israel on hatred and violence,” said Green Party leader Stav Shaffir.

In the interview, Peretz defended his potential future work with Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben-Gvir, saying that “he is not exactly a Kahanist.”

“Itamar Ben-Gvir is not exactly a Kahanist, but rather a soft man and a legitimate partner,” Peretz told Yediot. He additionally spoke of deporting children of illegal immigrants and limiting Israeli Arabs to vote in local elections alone.

Shaffir encouraged Israeli citizens to hold a strike on Sunday morning in response to Peretz’s comments on the LGBT community.

“I urge mayors and parents to join for a one-hour strike from school tomorrow morning,” Shaffir said. “We do not send children to be educated with the minister of darkness Rafi Peretz. We love Israel – we fight for it.”