No therapy, just porn and pain: 7 things to know for July 15

1. The horrors of ‘therapy’: A day after conversion therapy-gate, news outlets are taking a harder look at the controversial “treatment” along with Education Minister Rafi Peretz’s political future.

  • “From watching porn to drinking bleach: That’s what gay ‘conversion therapy’ looks like” reads a headline on Haaretz’s front page.
  • A headline in Globes makes it seem a bit less sinister and more campy: “Lectures, workshops, camping and ‘macho’ sports: This is what the gay conversion therapy industry looks like.”
  • But both — and others — paint a picture of a process that actual health professionals say can be deeply damaging.
  • “There’s no justification and no psychological or health need to go to this treatment to change your sexual orientation. This causes you to hate and to punish yourself,” Nadav Schwartz, who underwent treatment (and was sexually abused by his “therapist”), tells Walla news.
  • Shai Bramson, who helps lead a group that tries to actually help gay youths in the religious community, tells Maariv that he was also subjected to the therapy, which including giving him a rubber band to snap against himself any time he had bad thoughts, “watching pornographic films of females and describing my sexual fantasies.”
  • While the therapy didn’t make him less homosexual, it did force him to to turn away from religion for a time and to contemplate suicide.
  • In Ynet, Dr. Yaakov Ophir writes that even “gentle therapy” does not work and is harmful. “Even if it technically succeeds and the person stops thinking of themselves as homosexual, the personal price paid is huge.”

2. Still legal, somehow: Despite the horror stories, the practice remains not only legal in Israel, but common in some circles.

An estimated 20 to 30 licensed psychologists and social workers and 50 non-licensed therapists practice some form of conversion therapy in Israel, Rabbi Ron Yosef of the Orthodox gay organization Hod told the Associated Press in 2016.

  • Haaretz reports that four bills meant to outlaw the practice have failed in the Knesset at an early stage.
  • Nonetheless, Gabi Peretz, the official state psychologist, tells the paper that the Health Ministry takes action against those who try to perform such treatments: “We know that such treatment causes harm, and if a psychologist or a professional who is licensed by the Health Ministry performs such treatments, he will be dealt with.”
  • Dr. Shai Itamar tells the paper that most of those performing it openly are immigrants from the US.
  • Apparently taking the thing as one big joke, the Calcalist financial daily runs a headline touting the “conversion therapy” of family sedans getting sportier looks.

3. It’s the community: Globes reports that there are “hundreds of therapists advertising themselves on social media, via word of mouth, in Yeshivas and in towns and neighborhoods of the [Orthodox] community.”

  • Writing in a blog on ToI, Rabbi Zvi Farber writes that the existence of such therapies, and so much disinformation about them, says much about the communities that support them.
  • “There is no ‘conversion therapy,’ only behavior modification therapy. The reason this remains unclear, and the advocacy is always so opaque, is that the sector which Rabbi Peretz represents does not want to admit or even face the fact that sexual orientation is what it is and cannot be changed. This allows them to avoid responsibility for gay Jews who are part of their communities,” he writes.

4. All the minister’s minions: What that means, though, is that while many outside his base are horrified by Peretz’s comments, it’s not clear that he will actually pay a political price for it.

  • ToI’s Shalom Yerushalmi writes that “conversations with influential figures in the religious Zionist movement suggest … Peretz has only become more popular and stronger with his base. The more liberal segments of the national-religious community have undergone a vast change in attitudes toward the LGBTQ community in recent years. But elsewhere in the community, many are still hesitant, suspicious, and fearful of the repercussions of accepting homosexuality — and they especially hate the attempt, they say, to silence those who speak of a ‘normal family.’”
  • “On the street, we’re experiencing a violent takeover of the discourse on this subject, and Peretz fought back in the opposite direction, and that’s fine,” one prominent activist is quoted telling him.
  • Indeed, political bosom buddy Bezalel Smotrich came to Peretz’s defense, accusing the media of “lynching” him.
  • Israel Hayom reports that sources on the right are estimating that the affair will not affect efforts between parties to unify forces.
  • In the same paper, columnist Haim Shine writes that while Peretz was mistaken, the storm over him is overblown: “Sadly, in 2019 it’s impossible to have a real in-depth conversation on any subject relating to values.”

5. Don’t forget apartheid: Haaretz’s lead editorial notes the fact that Peretz’s comments on conversion therapy weren’t his only controversial ones, bemoaning the fact that few took notice of what he said about annexing the West Bank and leaving the Palestinians disenfranchised.

  • “The Palestinians don’t get a fraction of the sympathy that the LGBT community gets, which testifies to the erosion of Israelis’ civic consciousness with regard to the Palestinians,” the editorial reads. “Woe to Israeli democracy when there is no rebuke of a cabinet member who says millions of people can live under Israeli sovereignty without the right to vote.”
  • Yedioth Ahronoth’s Ben-Dror Yemini is one of the few who does take notice, writing that the apartheid vision — his words — is not that of someone on the fringes. “We are slouching toward a reality of one big state. His words were not happenstance,” he writes. “Israel has spent NIS 100 million on public advocacy, but along comes an education minister and gives the equivalent of a billion shekels to its detractors.”

6. Leave us out of it: In the US, President Donald Trump is dragging Israel into his fight with progressive Democratic lawmakers led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

  • After kicking up a Peretz-esque kerfuffle by telling the American congresswomen to go back where they came from, he is now demanding that they apologize to Israel, in more than one tweet.

 

  • Rabbi Jill Jacobs of the left-leaning rabbis’ human rights group T’ruah is quoted in JTA responding to Trump’s tweet by writing, “This has nothing to do with Israel. It’s about your behavior toward American citizens & congresspeople. Please don’t try to cover up your racism by making Israel a wedge.”
  • On Twitter, comedian Jeremy McLellan has a different take about Trump’s racist remarks.

7. If I move thee, oh, embassy: Though most Democrats find little to agree with on Trump, not a single 2020 candidate polled by Axios on the question of whether they would move the embassy back to Tel Aviv said they would.

  • A number of those asked stayed mum on the issue, including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
  • However, according to the site, there seems to be a consensus that any candidate “would not move the embassy back to Tel Aviv, but would freeze the process of building the new embassy in Jerusalem.”
  • While Axios only interviewed what it called top-tier candidates, the Jewish News Syndicate finds one candidate who says he would move it back, and then back again, Joe Sestak.
  • “We need to move the embassy back out of Jerusalem, but with the understanding that, ultimately, I believe we need to have the capital be there,” he is quoted saying. “But it needs to be worked out in a two-state solution and then our embassy needs to be there.”

Source Article from https://www.timesofisrael.com/no-therapy-just-porn-and-pain-7-things-to-know-for-july-15/

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