The Ministry of Education has removed two videos promoting LGBTQ and body image acceptance.
The videos were uploaded in July during a public storm a statement by Education Minister Rafi Peretz regarding conversion therapy. They were subsequently taken down following the minister's apology for the remarks.
Asked in a July interview with Channel 12 news if he favored and believed it was possible to convert people who have a homosexual “tendency”, the minister said: “I think it is possible. I respect every person, whoever they are."
"As a rabbi in Israel, I admit our Bible says other things (about homosexuality), but this doesn’t mean I’m giving them grades."
He then added, however: “I have a very deep understanding of education and have been involved in conversion therapy".
Widespread condemnation by lawmakers and social activists followed, resulting in the minister walking back his statements on the matter.
Some affiliated with the video project have tied the removal of the footage to the minister's controversial statements.
In response to an query by Ynet, the ministry said it would reupload the videos although no date was given.
The videos were part of a project named "Sexuality in Safe Spaces," which was created as a pilot for several Israeli schools by the Educaiton Ministry.
The project intended for students to have seven to eight hours of sex education, starting in sixth grade and to continue during middle and high school.
The project also included a series of videos explaining and talking about different subjects such as sexuality, gender and other intimate matters.
The ministry has also postponed the upload of the rest of the videos in the series for a year and a half, despite the fact that the two videos received much praise while they were online.
The video regarding LGBTQ acceptance stars Israeli fashionista Yoav Meir and reality star Leon Shneiderovsky and deals with a series of questions such as: "Should I tell my parents I'm gay?", "Who do I turn to if I feel stress or anxiety?" and, "If I dreamed of my female friend, does that mean I'm lesbian?"
The video dealing with positive body image includes questions such as, "I'm ashamed to go to the beach, what do I do?", "I want to take acne medication, but am afraid to tell my mom" and, "Will I mature like the rest of my female classmates?"
"We were shocked to discover the ministry had taken down the videos we worked so hard to produce, videos that are just promoting acceptance and understating for the LGBTQ community and for body image," said one of the project's affiliates.
"The money was already invested, and the videos were shot, so why wait a year and a half? Why were the (other) videos taken down after already being uploaded?"
The Education Ministry said in response: "The ministry was not the one to post the videos in the first place. It was done by the production company without our knowledge or approval.
"It should be emphasized that the ministry initiated a through and encompassing project on the matter for schools. The videos that were taken down, and the rest in the series, will be uploaded as soon as the proper arrangements are made with professional psychological counseling services."
A spokesperson for Peretz said that the decision to remove the videos had been taken before he took over at the ministry earlier this year.
"The decision whether to upload or take down the videos was made by professionals with no connection to the minister and done before his inauguration.
"Any attempt to connect him to the decision borders on provocation. Other professionals in the ministry oversee the content and the time of uploads for the videos."