Israeli education minister apologizes for remarks on gays

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s education minister has apologized for controversial remarks about homosexual “conversion therapy” and intermarriage among Diaspora Jews that drew widespread criticism in Israel and the U.S.

Rafi Peretz, leader of a small religious nationalist party, wrote in a letter to the head of the Jewish Agency on Tuesday that his likening of marriage between Diaspora Jews and non-Jews to a “second Holocaust” was “misplaced.”

Peretz’s comment at a Cabinet meeting was leaked to the press last week.

In another letter to school administrators, Peretz said he “vehemently opposed” a controversial technique that seeks to convert gay men into heterosexuals after originally saying he supported it.

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The minister’s comments about conversion therapy drew widespread condemnation and hundreds protested in Tel Aviv.

Peretz, a former chief rabbi in Israel’s military, assumed office in Israel’s interim government last month.

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