Israeli rabbi calls for Arabs to perish

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How could the people who encourage building shrines and museums for the Holocaust- established to bear witness to the Nazi crimes- turn so genocidal?

By Dr. Ashraf Ezzat

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the current spiritual leader of the Shas political party in the Israeli Knesset, had said during his weekly Shabbat sermon that the Palestinians, namely Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, should perish from the world. Yosef, also described Palestinians as evil, bitter enemies of Israel.

 “All these evil people should perish from this world … God should strike them with a plague, them and these Palestinians,” Yosef had said.

 Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is highly revered in the religious Israeli sphere, especially in the Sephardi and Mizrahi communities, for his erudition and Torah scholarship.

But the way I see it, rabbi yosef could be revered for his Torah scholarship that might be agreeable. But we should never consider the Rabbi an erudite cleric. An erudite man should know and behave better; rude is the more likely description for any religious man with such explicit contempt and hate towards fellow men and neighbors whom the old Bible incites that he should love “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”
Leviticus 19:18

This is not the first time for rabbi yosef to slam Arabs and especially Palestinians in such inflammatory way. The Iraqi-born cleric has made similar remarks before, most notably in 2001, during a Palestinian uprising, when he called for Arabs’ annihilation and said “The Lord shall return their deeds on their own heads, waste their seed and exterminate them, devastate them and vanish them from this world. It is forbidden to be merciful to them. we must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable.”

The holocaust industry

 

It is easy to imagine these words being uttered by a Nazi leader in Germany some 60 years ago, not by one whose people escaped the Nazi Holocaust, not by one whose people adept at pressing charges of anti-Semitism against anyone dared to question the contradictory Jewish history or criticize their present political affairs. How could one of the people who mastered the art of assigning guilt and playing the all time victims turn suddenly racist?

How could the people who encourage building shrines and museums for the Holocaust- established to bear witness to the Nazi crimes- turn so genocidal?

With this paradox in mind, one find himself strongly inclined to recognize the thesis of THE HOLOCAUST INDUSTRY adopted by Norman Finkelstein in his book by the same title in which he suggests that the Holocaust had become a means by which certain factions of the Jewish policy makers create an aura of piety and victimization that is used to, ironically, push forward a militaristic and potentially fascistic agenda.

The Holocaust industry book cover.

Finkelstein has written an extremely controversial indictment of the way Jewish conservative leaders exploited the history of the holocaust to advance their political and financial goals.

The rabbi words leave no room for misinterpretation or “spin” by pro-Israeli apologists plus he is a man of 90 years old, the age of wisdom and reconciliation with adversaries. So there is no way we could give him the benefit of the doubt. The man meant every word he said.

The time to act as raving mad puppet

 

There are two points to be discussed here. First, the timing of the Rabbi anti-Arab hate speech. I mean the man’s raving remarks always has its ebb and flow but he often dishes them out in a time of political need and according to a preplan. His offensive and infuriating statements may sound outrageous and religiously inexplicable. But if we examined their political ramification, only then could we discern them as making more sense.

 Back in 2000 when the Palestinian uprising or what is better known in Arabic as Intifada erupted following Ariel Sharon‘s visit to the Temple Mount, an area known to Muslims as Al-Haram Al-Sharif. The visit of former Prime Minister Sharon to the Muslim shrine was meant to send a message to the Palestinians and the Arabs that Israel would go ahead with the hideous and ambitious plan to demolish the Al- Aqsa mosque and build in its place what is called the third temple. 

And since this plan triggered feelings of intense bitterness and deep resentment amongst the Arabs and specially the Palestinians It eventually led to the uprising of the Palestinian “Intifada”. The Palestinian uprising was gaining momentum and the Palestinians high spirit needed to be confronted in every way possible, military, economically and morally.

 The Rabbi hate rhetoric was needed. It was time to unleash the pent- up paranoid inside the Rabbi in the same way it was unleashed this week in an attempt to sabotage the Palestinian -Israeli peace talks to be held in the United States this week. And since the Palestinians had only one precondition to the peace talks, namely freezing the Israeli building of new settlements in eastern Jerusalem.

It wasn’t long before the puppet Rabbi was again making the headlines. Yesterday he tossed another jab at the Palestinian Authority and called for a total thaw of the building freeze in Judea and Samaria. The Rabbi new aggravating statements came as planned and before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu flew to the United States for the scheduled talks with the Palestinians.

 Having done his magic, the political scene was boiling again over the settlements issue due to the rabbi provoking statements. His hate speech – as expected – incited equally extreme reaction on the Hamas side. Four Israeli settlers were killed this morning near a west bank settlement. The rabbi called for Palestinians to perish and asked God to strike them with a deadly plague. Seemingly, God was not listening to the rabbinical ravings but surely some of the rabbi- targeted audiences of fanatics were. His hate speech did not pass unrewarded.

Too late now

 

The second point to be regarded is the fact that Rabbi yosef is Mizrahi– born in Iraq- and he is the head of the Mizrahi Jewish community.

The term Mizrahi is used in Israel in the language of politics, media and some social scientists for Jews from the Arab world and adjacent, primarily Muslim-majority countries.

I mean the man has deep Arabic roots and he spent years(1947-1949) as head of the rabbinical court of the Jewish community in Egypt where he experienced the tolerance to Jews in Cairo prior to the surge of extremism to which he and men like him generously contributed.   

 With this history in mind and with more wisdom the rabbi could have been the perfect candidate for peace advocacy instead of promoting hatred. He could have utilized his influence among the Mizrahi and Sephardic communities to push forward the Middle East peace agenda.

He could have used the message of love embedded in the old Bible to bring peoples closer to each other. He could have asked his God to bestow peace and understanding upon the region, not to ask him for the annihilation of fellow human beings…. He should have been a better rabbi.

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Ashraf Ezzat is an Egyptian born in Cairo and based in Alexandria. He graduated from the faculty of Medicine at Alexandria University. Keen not to be entirely consumed by the medical profession, Dr. Ezzat invests a lot of his time in research and writing. History of the ancient Near East and of Ancient Egypt has long been an area of special interest to him. In his writings, he approaches ancient history not as some tales from the remote times but as a causative factor in our existing life; and to him, it's as relevant and vibrant as the current moment. In his research and writings, Dr. Ezzat is always on a quest trying to find out why the ancient wisdom had been obstructed and ancient spirituality diminished whereas the Judeo-Christian teachings and faith took hold and prospered. Dr. Ezzat has written extensively in Arabic tackling many issues and topics in the field of Egyptology and comparative religion. He is the author of Egypt knew no Pharaohs nor Israelites. He writes regularly at many well-known online websites such as Dissident Voice and What Really Happened. Dr. Ezzat is also an independent filmmaker. His debut film was back in 2011 The Annals of Egypt Revolution and in 2012 he made Tale of Osiris a short animation for children. In 2013 his short The Pyramids: story of creation was screened at many international film festivals in Europe. And he is working now on his first documentary "Egypt knew no Pharaohs nor Israelites".