Photo: Tzvika Tishler
Chief IDF Rabbi Avichai Ronsky
Photo: Tzvika Tishler
Regev. 'Support minority groups'
Photo: Michael Kramer

Military magazine 'unfazed' by rabbi's anti-gay statements

In response to criticism leveled by IDF Chief Rabbi Brig. Gen. Avichai Ronsky at Bamahane for publishing article on gay religious soldier, publication says it will continue to cover all IDF soldiers. Unofficially, magazine staff less restrained in their response. MK Miri Regev: Chief military rabbi should mind his business

Only weeks after evoking a media storm over his statements that girls need not serve in the military, IDF Chief Rabbi Brig. Gen. Avichai Ronsky is again at the center of the storm because of comments he made about gays in the military. The chief rabbi condemned an article written in June about a religious homosexual soldier in the IDF's weekly magazine, Bamahane, in honor of gay pride month.


The magazine said in its official response that, despite the chief rabbi's personal request, "We will continue to cover the soldier population, including gays and lesbians."


Off the record, the military magazine's staff is less restrained. "The chief rabbi's request didn't faze us," said the magazine staff to Ynet. "The article actually received many positive responses. No subscriptions were cancelled, and no negative responses were received. There is no need to make a big fuss about it. It's just a miserable statement."


This isn't the first time that the magazine has been caught between differences of opinions over the treatment of gay and lesbian soldiers in the IDF. In 2001, the magazine was temporarily shut down by former human resources chief, Maj. Gen. (res.) Elazar Stern, after publishing an article about a gay officer.


"This is our life," said a source in the magazine. "We exist among these tensions. It's not simple. The point is that we ultimately are allowed to publish these things."


An officer serving in one of the military's media outlets, a homosexual who is open about his sexual preference, responded angrily to the rabbi's statements: "What is the next step? A halachic ruling against us? We need to tell him that it is about time he recognize that homosexuals are a legitimate part of the military. Just as a gay soldier is worthy of fighting and being an officer, he is also worthy of being surveyed (in the magazine). Regardless of my position, it is as if they told us not to cover the activities of religious soldiers or of Ethiopians. It just proves how ignorant the rabbi is. He thinks it isn't appropriate – so what? We aren't shaken by this. It follows that this wasn't his only stupid comment, not the first outrageous statement he has made."


Proportional coverage? 

S., a military reporter, while condemning the rabbi's remarks, said he can also understand where he is coming from. "It is inconceivable to ignore gays and lesbians or any other special segment of the IDF," he said. "After all, we are the nation's army, and the gay community is part of the nation. It is our job to cover the IDF in its entirety.


"On the other hand, there is no doubt that people in the military media are close to this sector. The subject wasn't covered proportionally. Relative to the number of gays and lesbians in the army, they receive much more coverage in the magazine than there true proportion (of the military population)."


Taking the opposite opinion, former IDF spokeswoman, MK Miri Regev (Likud) said that the gay community should receive even more coverage than it does. Not only did she condemn the remarks made by Brig. Gen.


Ronsky, she also added, "Bamahane and Army Radio represent all IDF soldiers. These media outlets must support the minority groups within the IDF in need of support. I would actually expect that the Bamahane magazine have a regular column in which telephone numbers of relevant resources with home members of the gay and lesbian community can consult."


According to her, if the Knesset weren't currently on summer recess, she would summon the chief rabbi for a meeting in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. She said, "Ronsky should stick to his own affairs."


פרסום ראשון: 08.10.09, 16:24
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