200 Israeli rabbis slam LGBT rights groups for ‘turning perverts into heroes’

Letter from Orthodox clerics in defense of Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern says children raised by gay couples have ‘strange and unnatural lives’

Michael Bachner is a news editor at The Times of Israel

Illustrative: Members of the LGBT community and supporters participate in a demonstration against a Knesset bill amendment denying surrogacy for same-sex couples, outside the supreme court in Jerusalem on July 23, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative: Members of the LGBT community and supporters participate in a demonstration against a Knesset bill amendment denying surrogacy for same-sex couples, outside the supreme court in Jerusalem on July 23, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

More than 200 Israeli religious Zionist rabbis on Thursday published a letter lambasting LGBT groups for employing “aggressive terror accompanied by non-stop media brainwashing,” and for turning “perverts into heroes.”

The letter, signed by high-profile figures such as rabbis Dov Lior, Shmuel Eliyahu, Shlomo Aviner and Tzvi Tau, was initiated by several Orthodox groups and published in Hebrew-language media in response to criticism of Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern over his anti-LGBT remarks.

Stern’s comments followed Sunday’s massive demonstration in Tel Aviv organized by gay rights groups demanding equality, triggered by government legislation denying gay couples the right to have a child through surrogacy.

Public broadcaster Kan this week aired a recording of Stern saying: “It is forbidden to have the reality of LGBT people in general, but nobody is talking about the fact that kids are entering very strange and unnatural lives, of living without a mother and a father.”

In their letter, the rabbis supported Stern and said he “simply voiced the eternal truth of our holy Torah and human normality, which the healthy majority in Israel identifies with.”

Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern, at Rabbi Kook Museum, in Jerusalem on March 5, 2018. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

The rabbis added that most Israelis “are shocked by the provocation and loss of way of the abomination groups, which hold insolent parades in Israeli cities and even held these parades on Tisha B’av — a national day of grief for the destruction of the Temple, destroyed due to incest and unjustified hatred, among others.”

The rabbis also accused the LGBT rights groups of “aggressive terror accompanied by non-stop media brainwashing, as if there is some sort of ‘family’ here, destroy the notion of a family and turn the perverts into heroes.”

They claimed these attempts “won’t succeed, as well as the attempt to shut the mouths of rabbis and sane people and turn them into extremists and hallucinatory. Rabbi Stern was protecting the children of Israel, who will be miserable if they aren’t adopted by normal families.”

The rabbis called for letting adopted children have “their basic right to live in a natural, normal family so that they grow up as normal, mentally healthy people.”

In response to the letter, MK Stav Shaffir of the Zionist Union told students to reject the words of these rabbis.

“I turn to you, young women and men who learn with these rabbis, you are not deviant. You are wonderful. You are good people, strong, loving and most importantly, equal,” she said. “It is forbidden to spend even a minute on these harsh words of leaders who have lost control and are attempting by force to drag us decades backwards. Israeli society has woken up. Stay strong.”

Thousands gather at Rabin Square for an LGBT rights protest on July 22, 2018. (screen capture: Hadashot)

Uri Kedar, head of the Be Free Israel advocacy group for religious freedom decried the letter, calling the rabbis “Ayatollahs.”

“A large number of this group of lunatics receive a salary from the State of Israel, and the silence of Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu and Justice Minister [Ayelet] Shaked shows… that they have no intention to do anything to stop these religious people who have no god,” he said.

The letter of the rabbis comes a few days after a news poll showed that a majority of Israelis from across the political spectrum support the LGBT community’s fight to secure surrogacy rights for gay couples.

The poll published Tuesday by Hadashot TV news showed 56 percent of the public support the recent LGBT protests, while 33% oppose them. Though right-wing parties are traditionally seen as socially conservative, the poll showed 51% of Likud voters backed the protests, and perhaps more surprisingly, so did 58% of voters for Jewish Home, a largely religious party, which draws a large percentage of its voters from students of the rabbinic signatories on the letter.

On Sunday night around 100,000 people rallied in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to protest the exclusion of gay couples from a recently passed surrogacy law. Gay rights advocates and their supporters also observed an unprecedented one-day strike throughout the country.

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