Former IDF Chief of Staff Ya’alon: Religious Zionist leaders spreading ‘darkness’

Former defense minister decries recent ‘irresponsible’ and ‘dark’ statements made by the Union of Right-Wing Parties leader.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that the political leaders of the religious Zionist movement have become a force of “darkness” in Israel.

The No. 3 candidate on the Blue and White party list, speaking Sunday on Channel 13, was reacting to Education Minister Rafi Peretz’s statement the previous night in favor of conversion therapy for gays.

Peretz, leader of the Union of Right Wing Parties (URWP), is a former chief rabbi of the IDF and headed a hesder yeshiva, in which young men combine Torah study with army service, before jumping into politics for the April elections.

“We have to go back to singing the [Hanukkah] song, ‘We have come to expel the darkness,’” Yaalon said. “It’s one of the symptoms of the leadership crisis we are in now. The justice minister says not to obey orders of the Supreme Court, and the education minister speaks in an irresponsible and dark [i.e. backward] way that is not appropriate for the State of Israel. Peretz should be fired just as the justice minister should have been fired.”

The new justice minister, Amir Ohana of the Likud – coincidentally, the country’s first openly gay cabinet minister – caused an uproar last month when he said that in some cases, the highest court’s decisions should not be obeyed.

Although Ya’alon said he “very much appreciates large sections” of religious Zionism, he reserved sharp criticism for what he called the extremist portion of the movement.

“Everyone tries to go to the extreme, in terms of women, the LGBTQs – it’s what can be called a process of the darkening of the State of Israel,” he charged.

Yaalon blamed the prime minister for having appointed Peretz to head the Education Ministry in the first place, accusing Netanyahu of doing so in order to “strengthen his base before the elections, and the state should go burn.”

“Everything is subservient to saving Benjamin Netanyahu from the justice system,” he said, reiterating Blue and White’s vow not to ever sit in a national unity government with the Likud if Netanyahu remains head of the party.