Rafael "Rafi" Peretz (Hebrew: רַפַאֶל "רָפִי" פֶּרֶץ; born 7 January 1956) is an Israeli Orthodox rabbi and politician. A former military officer and helicopter pilot who also served as the Chief Military Rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces, he was the leader of the Jewish Home party. Peretz was a member of the Knesset for the Yamina alliance until he separated from the faction in order to join the Netanyahu-led government.
Prior to being promoted to the rank of brigadier general, Peretz was the head of the Otzem Pre-Military Academy in Yated, which was relocated from Bnei Atzmon, where he established it in 1993, and a major (reserves) in the Israeli Air Force, where he served as a helicopter pilot. He succeeded Rabbi Avichai Rontzki as Chief Military Rabbi in mid-2010, serving in the post until 2016.
In November 2014, at a tense time in Jerusalem, Peretz caused a public controversy by announcing that the Temple Mount has no religious significance to the Muslim religion. He was quoted as saying, "Ninety percent of the Arabs don't know a thing about the Koran. I tell you with full authority. We know better than many of them." The IDF quickly distanced itself from the rabbi's statements, and stated: "The rabbi is sorry if his remarks offended the Arab population." Ynet characterized Peretz's comments as "explosive".
Peretz was elected to lead the Jewish Home party on 4 February 2019. The party joined the Union of the Right-Wing Parties alliance for the April 2019 Knesset elections, with Peretz as the alliance's lead candidate. He was elected to the Knesset as the coalition won five seats.
Peretz attracted criticism from within the government and Israeli society in July 2019, when he endorsed gay conversion therapy, and claimed to have personally performed such therapy. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Peretz's comments as "unacceptable". On July 18, 2019, Peretz said, after protests, that he rejected gay conversion therapy.
In an interview published on 10 January 2020, Peretz told the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, "In the religious public that lives according to the Torah, a normal family is a man and a woman. [We] don’t need to be ashamed that we live in this natural way", The Times of Israel reported, adding that his comments drew criticism of Israeli LGBT activists and politicians by "suggesting gay marriage was not natural".
In May 2020, as Yamina switched to the opposition before the formation of the Netanyahu–Gantz unity government, Peretz resigned from Yamina and joined the Netanyahu government as the "Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage".
In January 2021, he announced his retirement from politics.
Peretz is married, and has 12 children. He lived in the Gush Katif settlement of Bnei Atzmon prior to the Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005, and now lives in Naveh, a village established in 2008 by former residents of Gush Katif. On 1 August 2020, Peretz tested positive for COVID-19.
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- ^ TOI Staff; Magid, Jacob (14 May 2020). "Yamina's Peretz splits party to join government, but posting still up in the air". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
- ^ Toker, Benny (4 February 2019). "Rabbi Rafi Peretz will bring back voters". 0 Israel National News. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
- ^ הרב רונצקי יסיים תפקידו בקיץ. Israel National News (in Hebrew). 29 December 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2009.
- ^ Gedalyahu, Tzvi Ben (26 January 2010). "Peretz IDF's New Chief Rabbi". Israel National News. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
- ^ Levinson, Chaim (28 November 2014). "Chief IDF Rabbi: Temple Mount Not for Muslims". Haaretz. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
- ^ "IDF chief rabbi: 90% of Muslims don't know Quran contents". The Times of Israel. 28 November 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
- ^ "Chief IDF Rabbi: Muslims pray with face to Mecca, back to Jerusalem". Ynet. 28 November 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
- ^ Staff writer (4 February 2019). "Beit Yehudi leader slams Shaked, Bennet: You don't abandon a home". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
- ^ "Israel minister defends 'gay conversion therapy'". BBC News. 13 July 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
- ^ Darrah, Nicole (10 July 2019). "Israeli education minister likens marriage between US Jews and non-Jews to 'second Holocaust'". Fox News. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
- ^ Dalton, Jane (14 July 2019). "Gay conversion therapy works, and I've given it, says Israeli education minister". The Independent. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
- ^ "Israels Bildungsminister rudert zurück, "Ich lehne diese Praxis entschieden ab."". Bild (in German). 18 July 2019. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
- ^ TOI Staff (10 January 2020). "Education minister slammed for suggesting gay marriage is unnatural". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
- ^ Ben Porat, Ido (15 May 2020). "Rabbi Rafi Peretz signs coalition agreement with the Likud". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
- ^ "Rafi Peretz to quit politics as Jewish Home seeks to merge with Yamina once more". The Times of Israel. 5 January 2021. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
- ^ "The Latest: Israeli minister for Jerusalem tests positive". wtmj.com. 2 August 2020. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
- Rafi Peretz on the Knesset website
- The official IDF Military Rabbinate website
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