Threatening Mass Text Message Tells LGBTQ+ Israelis They 'Deserve Death'

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday December 23, 2021

A menacing text message received by thousands of LGBTQ+ people across the country of Israel on Dec. 20 warned that they were "apostates" who "deserve... death" and appeared to come from a rabbi who has denied sending the message, the Jerusalem Post reported.

"The message included a phone number and a Telegram account to contact and stated that it was sent by Rabbi Chaim Aryeh Hadash, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Ohr Elhanan," the Post recounted.

"The rabbi has denied that he has any connection to the message," the article detailed, adding that Hadash claimed, "he has never talked about the issue and the issue is not addressed in his yeshiva."

The newspaper quoted the full text of the mass message as reading: "You are LGBT and an apostate. You deserve severe punishment, death and deportation from Israel. Come to Yeshiva Ohr Elhanan in order to repent. We would be glad if you undergo conversion to faith."

Kann News posted the harassing message — which was sent in Hebrew — at Twitter, and noted that "The telephone numbers that appear in the message are not connected."

Daily newspaper Israel Hayom reported that "It was unclear if the text had been sent to a list of random numbers... or whether the phone numbers had been leaked from the popular LGBTQ dating site Atraf, which Iranian hackers targeted some three months ago" in an action credited to a group called Black Shadow.

"The director-general of the Israel Internet Association, Yoram Hacohen, called for police to investigate whether the person who sent the text used data from the Black Shadow attack," the Jerusalem Post detailed.

"Israel Police opened an investigation into the messages on Monday afternoon, saying it would work to unveil and locate the suspects involved in the case," the Post article added.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.