Israeli Rabbi Yigal Levinstein, who helps train senior officers in the Israeli army, is being called out for describing LGBT people as "perverts" who shouldn't be allowed to serve.
At a conference last Monday, Levinstein denigrated LGBT Israelis as "sexual predators" who terrorize the army and the country as a whole. He condemned the Israeli Defense Force for admitting gay and trans service members.
"There's a crazy movement here of people who have just lost the normalcy of life, and this group is driving an entire country crazy," he declared. "It's going into the army at full strength, and nobody dares open their mouth to speak up."
"At the Officers' Training School, there are lectures on perverts. Last year, we managed to stop them—we said that they were an infringement on the individual rights of religious people, but the issue isn't off the agenda."
Levinstein recounted a story of a soldier in the pilots' course who was allegedly forced to visit an LGBT center in Tel Aviv, where soldiers were sent to volunteer.
The head of the Bnei David pre-army preparatory yeshiva near Ramallah, where most religious senior IDF officers attend, Levinstein serves on committees that shape IDF policy on education, ethics and other issues.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has called for an end to anti-gay rhetoric in the wake of the death of Shiri Banks last year at Jerusalem Pride.
But just last week, a court canceled a Pride parade in the city of Be'er Sheva Pride, citing security concerns.
And Rabbi Col. Eyal Karim, chosen to be the IDF's next chief rabbi, comes with baggage of his own.
Karim, who alerady apologized for inflammatory comments approving of the rape of women in wartime, said that homosexuals, who are "sick and deformed," can be cured.
"[They should be ] helped to escape their situation, with a lot of sensitivity and patience," he explained. (Karim also has insisted the Torah's ban on women testifying in court was good, "as a woman's sentimental nature does not allow her to withstand a cross-examination.")
While Israel has struggled with LGBT rights, the need for a strong military has made the country's armed forces the most inclusive in the world: Gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers have served openly since 1993.
In 2013, the first trans woman enlisted in the IDF, and last year, the army began accepting HIV-positive soldiers.
In addition, same-sex partners receive death benefits and soldiers are allowed to participate in Pride parades.
Unit 8200, one of the largest units in the Israeli army, is well-known for the large number of uncloseted LGBT soldiers serving in it.
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