Israel: Conversion therapy becomes key to elections

When Bayit Yehudi leader Rafi Peretz apologized for speaking in favor of conversion therapy for the LGBT community, he might have thought he had put the issue to rest. But it is looking more and more that this election is exactly about that: attempts to convert people from their natural tendencies.

The election began with Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman refusing to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition because he wants more haredim (ultra-Orthodox) to serve in the IDF, to be like the rest of Israelis and subject to conscription.

The focus shifted from the haredim to the LGBT community, which Peretz thought could be converted to what is societally acceptable in his haredi religious Zionist sector. On Thursday, another kind of conversion therapy took center stage.

Labor leader Amir Peretz ended efforts to unite the parties to the left of Blue and White, and instead reached an agreement with former Yisrael Beytenu MK and current Gesher Party leader Orly Levy-Abecassis. The basis for the agreement was their belief that by focusing on socioeconomic issues, they could woo voters in the periphery and poor neighborhoods away from the Likud. Peretz is promising to bring about a political upheaval, and believes he has the right strategy.

That strategy is in effect conversion therapy for right-wing voters: convert them to putting socioeconomic issues first, before the traditional Left-Right divide on diplomatic issues, and perhaps Netanyahu can be defeated. Read more via Jerusalem Post