Theopolitics of disaster

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Marsha Cohen has a fine post up on Lobelog blasting Ovadia Yosef, a leader of the Shas party, for a string of crazy statements ascribing divine will to natural disaster, let alone the subordination of Palestinians. Excerpts:

When a Shiite prayer leader blames earthquakes in Iran on immodestly dressed and promiscuous women, neocons like Michael Ledeen snicker.

When a prominent ultra-orthodox Israeli spiritual and political leader agrees with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh that the fire destroying Israel’s Carmel Forest is a punishment from God, there’s silence.

Ovadia Yosef, a former Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, who remains a prominent spiritual and political leader of the Shas party, and Palestinian Prime Minister elect Haniyeh agree that the Deity has been venting His fury by means of  the destructive blaze in Israel, but disagree about why

This is not the first time Rabbi Yosef has publicly proffered a theological justification for a major disaster. In September of 2005, Yosef blamed the destructiveness of Hurricane Katrina on the residents of New Orleans and on U.S. President George W. Bush’s pressure on Israel to withdraw from northern Gaza and the West Bank…

In a prayer for the Jewish new year this past August, Yosef appealed to the Almighty  for a plague on Palestinians and their leaders (which he subsequently retracted). Two weeks ago, Yosef, who once called Palestinians “snakes despised by God,” opined in a sermon that non-Jews exist only to serve Jews, and that God preserves the lives of non-Jews in the State of Israel in order to protect those of Jews.

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