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Israeli military’s chief rabbi complains over magazine feature on gay soldiers

Jessica Geen August 11, 2009
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The chief rabbi of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) has complained over an army magazine which featured gay soldiers.

Brigadier General Avihai Ronski wrote to the army’s personnel department and education corps to complain that the features in Bamahane were not appropriate. He took particular offence to an article on Major Yehoshua Gortler, a deeply religious Jew who is also gay.

The magazine published the series of features as part of Pride month, in June. Responding to Ronski’s letter, it said it reflected life for all soldiers, including those who are gay.

An IDF spokesman said: “The IDF assigns soldiers to posts based on military needs and the soldiers’ personal abilities, not based on their sexual orientation or their gender. Any statement to the contrary represents personal opinion and not official IDF policy.”

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the magazine was shut for two weeks by the personnel department in 2001 for running an article on a soldier coming out of the closet.

Ronski’s complaint comes just over a week after a masked gunman killed two and injured 15 at a gay youth centre in Tel Aviv.

Last month, Soldier – the magazine of the British army – featured a gay serviceman on its cover for the first time, honouring ten years of gay and lesbian soldiers serving openly in the army.

Trooper James Wharton, of the Household Cavalry Regiment, was shown wearing dress uniform complete with an Iraq medal. He appeared on the cover next to the slogan ‘Pride’.

The magazine said it was “celebrating diversity in the British Army”.

Related topics: Middle East

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