Israeli Defense Ministry Condemns Pre-enlistment Academy Rabbi's Anti-gay Comments

After pre-IDF academy head Rabbi Yigal Levinstein raises a storm by calling gays 'perverts,' the Defense Ministry says it views his comments 'gravely.'

Former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Rabbi Yigal Levinstein and then-IDF chief rabbi Raffi Peretz, 2010.
Tomer Appelbaum

The Defense Ministry issued a statement on Monday saying that the ministry views Rabbi Yigal Levinstein's comments "gravely" and that it roundly condemns them.

The statement comes after a senior Israel Defense Force official was quoted by Haaretz as rejecting controversial comments made by Levinstein, the head of the Bnei David pre-army preparation course in the West Bank settlement of Eli.

Levinstein raised a storm last week after calling gays "perverts." He also lashed out in the same speech at the army's efforts to avoid harming civilian non-combatants.

Defense Ministry Director Feneral Udi Adam directed the ministry division that is responsible for the pre-army preparatory courses "to demand clarifications over the remarks" from Bnei David. This is the first official response to Levinstein's comments.

Senior IDF figures have expressed outrage over Levinstein, who also attacked the IDF's values and the Education Corps and the senior officers in the corps, including its head, Brig. Gen. Avner Paz-Tzuk and Col. Yael Hess, the head of the army education department. 

Levinstein accused Paz-Tzuk of resisting the military rabbinate’s involvement in educational programs and trying to replace Jewish identity education with programs about secular values such as religious pluralism and acceptance of the LGBT community.

In a conversation with Haaretz, a senior IDF figure rejected what he said was Levinstein's criticism of IDF combat norms and ethics. The source wondered what the Jewish sources were that had shaped Rabbi Levinstein's views.