US envoy has ‘good relationship’ with pro-’annihilation’ Israeli rabbi

Like Israeli National Security Advisor Ya’akov Amidror and Interior Minister Eli YishaiUS Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro has met with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel and current head of Shas’s Council of Torah Sages, the Jewish Press reports:

    Dan Shapiro, the new American ambassador to Israel, relates that even before he got to his new post in Tel Aviv, he made note of the fact that he had to establish a good relationship with Rav Ovadia Yosef. Therefore two days after presenting his letter of credence to President Shimon Peres, he approached the office of Interior Minister Eli Yishai to get an appointment with the Rav, which took place later that week.

    The conversation between the Rav and the ambassador was friendly. The ambassador spoke in Hebrew and told the Rav about his religious affiliations and his studies in yeshiva. Since then, the two meet frequently, and the Americans will definitely try to employ Dan Shapiro, within the next few days, to convince the Rav not to support the attack on Iran.

The story, entitled “Rav Ovadia Yosef Holds in his Hands the Fate of Israel’s Attack on Iran,” says “that Rav Ovadia Yosef is the key to the entire political and security process in Israel. His influence on his party is prominent and his word has ramifications in wider spheres of influence.”

But while highlighting examples of Yosef’s influence on Israeli politics, like his meeting with deposed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak and Netanyau’s struggle to secure his approval of the October 18 prisoner exchange, it excludes Yosef’s history of outspoken racism.

As I wrote here Tuesday, this has included Yosef’s statements that Palestinians are “snakes” and “accursed, wicked ones,” and that God was “sorry he created all Arabs”; that ”It is forbidden to be merciful to them [Arabs]. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable”; that Hurricane Katrina happened because “black people reside there (in New Orleans). Blacks will study the Torah? (God said) let’s bring a tsunami and drown them”; and that “Goyim were born only to serve us [Jews]. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel.”

This background information is also absent from mainstream media reports on Yosef’s prominence in Iran war deliberations. An Associated Press article by Ian Deitch, published by the Washington Post and others simply calls him “the Shas Party’s 92-year-old spiritual leader,” before saying that “Yosef, a former Israeli chief rabbi for Jews of Middle East origins, is revered by millions around the world as a scholar and spiritual leader. His Shas Party is part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government and would have a say in a decision over attacking Iran.”

Some Israeli and specialized media have shown more frankness in their reports. While Haaretz’s news report omits Yosef’s checkered past, a blog post on its site begins its description of Yosef by noting, “Shas’ spiritual leader is not exactly known for his tolerance towards Israel’s neighbors,” before recounting his “annihilate them” outburst.

And Religion Dispatches comments,

    Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Shas party, is also a deeply divisive figure. For secular Israeli Jews he symbolizes all that is retrograde and anti-modern in Israeli culture. His pronouncements on public issues are reminiscent of those of the late Jerry Falwell and of Rush Limbaugh.

Yosef, a salaried Israeli state employee, is a key decision-maker – some would say the key decision-maker – on an Israeli war of aggression against Iran, and is treated as a respected public figure by both the Israeli and US governments. In this context, it is the height of journalistic irresponsibility for media to obscure his racist incitement against Palestinians and other Arabs, people of African descent, and non-Jews in general.

If Barack Obama sent top US officials to solicit David Duke’s approval of a war, would the AP mention his past? Why does it hide such essential information from its readers when it concerns an Israeli figure?

About Joe Catron

Joe Catron is a US activist in Gaza, Palestine, where he works with Palestinian groups and international solidarity networks, particularly in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and prisoners' movements. He co-edited The Prisoners' Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag, an anthology of accounts by detainees freed in the 2011 prisoner exchange, blogs at joecatron.wordpress.com and tweets at @jncatron.
Posted in Israel/Palestine, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics

{ 28 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Woody Tanaka says:

    The fact that Mr. Yosef’s name isn’t synonymous with gutter-level race bigotry is a demonstration of the failure of the US media.

  2. how infuriating. one might think there would be a line we wouldn’t cross. apparently not. it’s completely unnecessary to consult with this person. meanwhile we draw the line at hamas, but for israel and judaism there’s no limit to the fanaticism we’ll endure. disgusting.

  3. Fredblogs says:

    Funny how whenever you track down the actual quotes, it turns out that whatever Israeli is accused of calling the Palestinians some uncomplimentary type of animal was talking about _terrorists_, not Palestinians in general. For that reason, I always get a “yeah, right” moment when I see “them” followed by “Arabs” or “Palestinians” in square brackets.

    “In the interview Rabbi Yosef explains that in his words [snakes] he meant [referred to] only Arab terrorists, and not to the entire Arab population. His words were falsified.”
    link to freerepublic.com

    For those who read Hebrew (I don’t but I had google translate)

    link to ynet.co.il

    • Another reason to miss and love Mubarak. He was a not a terrorist. He was loved and prayed by Ovadia Yosef.
      BTW when I saw the ads of the film Dictator by Borat, Ovada’s name for some reason ran through my mind. May be it was just the dress or the experience of the dress -induced ambience.

    • MK_Ultra says:

      Hmmm…does that apply to the supposed statement by Ahmadinejad about allegedly wiping Isreal off the map or is that an excuse that applies only to the Chosen ones?

    • ColinWright says:

      Fredblogs says: “Funny how whenever you track down the actual quotes, it turns out that whatever Israeli is accused of calling the Palestinians some uncomplimentary type of animal was talking about _terrorists_, not Palestinians in general. ..”

      Quite right. The other Palestinians must be there to serve the Jews, like other gentiles.

      Would that be it, Freddo? Or what special gentiles is it who only exist so that they can serve the Jews?

      • Fredblogs says:

        @ColinWright
        Don’t know what you are talking about. But the quote about snakes referred to terrorists, not to Arabs. I can see why you would want to change the subject.

        • tree says:

          Fred,

          Colin is referring to one of Yosef’s other comments, regarding gentiles:

          In an October 2010 sermon, Yosef stated that “The sole purpose of non-Jews is to serve Jews”. He said that Gentiles served a divine purpose: “Why are Gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap. We will sit like an effendi and eat. That is why Gentiles were created.”[34] In the same article on the Jerusalem Post, according to the journalist who interviewed him, Yosef compared Gentiles to donkeys whose life has the sole purpose to serve the master: “In Israel, death has no dominion over them… With gentiles, it will be like any person – they need to die, but [God] will give them longevity. Why? Imagine that one’s donkey would die, they’d lose their money. This is his servant… That’s why he gets a long life, to work well for this Jew.”
          “Gentiles were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel.”[35]
          The American Jewish Committee condemned Yosef’s remarks, stating that “Rabbi Yosef’s remarks – suggesting outrageously that Jewish scripture asserts non-Jews exist to serve Jews – are abhorrent and an offense to human dignity and human equality [...] Judaism first taught the world that all individuals are created in the divine image, which helped form the basis of our moral code. A rabbi should be the first, not the last, to reflect that bedrock teaching of our tradition.” [36] The remark was also condemned by the Anti-Defamation League.[37]

          From Wikipedia, sourced to this Jerusalem Post article, among others:

          link to jpost.com

          Please do go on and tell us how the Jerusalem Post misquoted Yosef yet again. He would never refer to people as animals simply because of their ethnic or religious heritage, right?

          Fred, even the ADL and the AJC condemned this guys speech. Give it up. You’re only tarnishing yourself even more by excusing a bigot.

          Don’t know what you are talking about…I can see why you would want to change the subject.

          What a surprise. You comment on Yosef without even knowing what he has said. Are you going to defend this quote as well?

        • “Don’t know what you are talking about.”
          Maybe Colin is referring to this:————-

          “Rabbi Yosef: Gentiles exist only to serve Jews
          According to Rabbi, the lives of non-Jews in Israel are safeguarded by divinity, to prevent losses to Jews.
          The sole purpose of non-Jews is to serve Jews, according to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the head of Shas’s Council of Torah Sages and a senior Sephardi adjudicator.

          “Goyim were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel,” he said in his weekly Saturday night sermon on the laws regarding the actions non-Jews are permitted to perform on Shabbat.
          link to jpost.com

        • Fredblogs says:

          @tree and thankgodimatheist
          Oddly enough, now that you are being explicit in your citation, I remember this quote coming up here before. I researched it, he was saying that the biblical view of the purpose of gentiles _in the time of the Messiah_ is yada yada yada. And even in the citation in the JPost he didn’t say gentiles were any sort of animal, just that you make an investment in people who work for you.

          So after the end of the world, not now. Considering that the official Christian view is that after the end of the world the Jews (and all other non-Christians) are going to burn forever in a lake of eternal fire, I wouldn’t complain about being hypothetical servants. It’s a much nicer “after the end of the world” fate. I’m not sure what the Muslim view of what happens to non-Muslims after the end of the world (or even after death) is.

          P.S. is thankgodimatheist an ungramatical “Thank God I’m an atheist”. Or “thank God I’m a theist”?

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Oddly enough, now that you are being explicit in your citation, I remember this quote coming up here before. I researched it, he was saying that…”

          LMAO. Here I’m thinking, this guy’s racism is so vile and obvious so that not even our man Fredo would attempt to defend this rat. I guess there is no position so vile, or no racism so disgusting that Fredo won’t be willing to defend if the vile racist is Jewish… Oh, what a light unto the nations you are, Fredo.

        • marc b. says:

          he’s got you there, woody. ‘in the time of the messiah’. hallelujah! that’s the ticket. so if a christian minister were to say “the jews should be my foot rest while i watch college football … in the time of the messiah”, no one could possibly object to that conditional description.

        • Fredblogs says:

          @marc b.

          As I said, Christian ministers already say “Jews and other non-Christians are all going to burn in a lake of eternal fire for rejecting Jesus”. And few people object to that description. Somehow I don’t think Woody Tanaka or Marc B among them.

        • tree says:

          And few people object to that description. Somehow I don’t think Woody Tanaka or Marc B among them.

          You are wrong about that, Fred. (Not surprising.) Many people object to that description, and I’m sure Marc b and Woody are among them. But what about you? Do you approve of what you claim “Christian ministers” all say? After all, you have no objection to any bigoted sermon that Yosef speaks. Is this another one of your hypocrisies, where its OK if Jews are raging bigots but not so anyone else, or are you willing to show a little consistency here and excuse the same kind of crap when said by a non-Jew? Surprise me.

          And your excuse for Yosef’s bigotry is a transparent lie.

          “Goyim were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel,” he said in his weekly Saturday night sermon on the laws regarding the actions non-Jews are permitted to perform on Shabbat.

          link to liveleak.com

          He’s talking about the here and now, not some fantasy time in the future. Only another bigot, who feels a pathetic need to excuse the inexcusable purely because it is committed by someone who shares his ethnicity/religion would continue to make excuses for Yosef’s bigotry.

          Out of a perverse sense of the idiotic, what, pray tell, is your excuse for Yosef saying,

          ” walking between two women is like walking between two donkeys or between two camels.”

          I’m sure you can think up a hilarious apologia for this one.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “As I said, Christian ministers already say ‘Jews and other non-Christians are all going to burn in a lake of eternal fire for rejecting Jesus’. And few people object to that description. Somehow I don’t think Woody Tanaka or Marc B among them.”

          Oh, Fredo, you have to start paying better attention. As I’ve said on many occasions, I’m an atheist and I think all of the religious pronouncements are equally nonsensical and equally objectionable and equally offensive.

          Yes, evangelical ministers saying that the Jews who reject Jesus are going to burn in the lake of fire are objectionable. Not because of some dopey belief that anyone is going to go live on Sugar Candy Mountain after they die if they follow certain rules or only eat certain food or only say certain magickal words, but because the whole idea of a Jesus returning and the idea of a lake of fire that burns people forever are inherently objectionable and/or wicked.

        • tree says:

          I notice that in my haste to post, I messed up my formatting. From “He’s talking about the here and now..” on down are my own words. And I meant to bold this part of the quote from Liveleak,

          his weekly Saturday night sermon on the laws regarding the actions non-Jews are permitted to perform on Shabbat.

          to make that clear that he was talking about goys in the here and now, not “after the Messiah”.

    • And the terrorism are as follow— trying to protect Olive trees, and doors of the homes,and flowers in the garden and trying to draw water from the well and not recognizing the check points established on one’s own properties and going though it in a hurry to reach a hospital ,trying to walk down on roads made for Jewish only ,protesting fires on the mosques, and asking for transport to go to school or protesting against travel ban on students to go universities in Europe or US ( well the knowledge now could be of dual use and should be stopped ) or trying to escape the hardship of economic blockade through a dark tunnel .
      According to the certain interpretation of the religion a terrorism charge can be brought against a child in case …… ( left to the imagination ) and can be killed .Sorry no terrorism charge is needed . Can be dispensed with without that hassle.

    • tree says:

      Funny how whenever you track down the actual quotes, it turns out that whatever Israeli is accused of calling the Palestinians some uncomplimentary type of animal was talking about _terrorists_, not Palestinians in general.

      I’m not sure whether you just play dumb because its the only way you can make a plausible argument, or you are just being you, but here goes.

      You did not track down the “original quotes”. The original quotes would be from the speech he gave in April 2000. You din’t link to those. You linked first to an excuse posted on the Free Republic posting boards over a year after Yosef’s comment, and then to the Ynet article that was linked within that FR comment. The Ynet article concerned Yosef’s attempts after the fact to do damage control by insisting he was only referring to “terrorists”. If you follow Rabbi Yosef’s career you’ll notice that damage control keeps his spokesperson rather busy, what with his bigoted and incendiary comments on the Holocaust, Hurricane Katrina, various secular Israeli politicians, gentiles, women, Abbas and other Palestinians, and G-d knows what else. Unless you think the Hebrew press incorrectly quoted every one of those comments, then his bigotry and the need for damage control by his spokesman, and even himself, is obvious.

      According to your own source, Free Republic, Yosef’s quote about vipers or snakes was “translated” by Haaretz, an Israeli paper. Its quite difficult to explain how Haaretz could have “mistranslated” Hebrew, especially since its primary reporting was in Hebrew itself. And its also apparent that Yosef’s quote in 2000 was criticized by quite a few Israeli politicians and mainstream newspapers, not just Haaretz. I doubt there would have been any uproar in Israel at the time about a statement merely condemning terrorists, even in harsh terms. And yet there was plenty of uproar over Yosef’s statement.

      link to news.bbc.co.uk

      And there was likewise condemnation of a similar remark, aimed at Abbas and the Palestinians,
      made by Yosef in 2010.

      link to bbc.co.uk

      So unless you can come up with the actual original quote to prove your allegation, which we can have Shmuel translate if you like, your argument is just another fart in the wind, counter to what the facts would have any rational person believe, which is that Yosef made yet another bigoted, hateful and incendiary remark in this case.

      • Blake says:

        @ tree: Lol. Busted. Fredblogs has been dragged to hell and back and still returns for more humiliation. Must be some sadistic urge in him.

        • Mooser says:

          link to freerepublic.com
          For those who read Hebrew (I don’t but I had google translate)
          ink to ynet.co.il

          ROTFLMSJAO!!! Everything you need to know about Fredblogs in three lines!

          Ah, the ineffable Fred! He’s so Zen-Jewish, it’s like the sound of one hand thwapping.

  4. There was a great article in Counterpunch.com sometime back ( within last few years ) by an Indian -Asian author chronicling the hate-filled,angry,racist vituperative remarks by Israeli nobles and elders from Zabotinsky to Rabin and beyond. I have lost that link to that article. It was a great post detailing the existence and normalization of pervasive racist theme in every fabric of social,academic,administrative,religious,and military structures.

  5. MK_Ultra says:

    Elementary my dear Watson. Birds of a feather flock together and all that.

  6. YoungMassJew says:

    Speaking of Harretz (<–italics), they censored and took down an entire article they posted on FB after I wrote as a comment to it that basically said that 'Zionism destroyed the concept of the nice Jewish guy and the female equivlent and replaced them with an uzi-toting fascist'. I guess Gideon Levy is able to call Israel fascist but I can't. Once we loose Haaretz, which might have already happened as others at MW have noticed, Israel will be just left with grainly black and white Nazi-reel hasbara and the remaining few Jews of Conscience left in Israel will have a news blackout. Sad

    • ColinWright says:

      Well, Haaretz ain’t all that great. It has the dubious virtues of being quick off the mark and inclined to give air time to a wildly unpredictable gallery of commentators — but sometimes it reads like a college newspaper. Plus they have some mysterious criteria for censoring posts which I just cannot fathom. I can make five or six successive remarks that are perfectly reasonable — and none of them go up. Then I can say something really controversial — and up it goes. And it’s always ‘nacht und nebel.’ What’s the policy? They never say.

      What I love is how they obviously think that just running everything through spell check constitutes proofreading. That produces about one good laugh a week.

  7. Mooser says:

    ‘Zionism destroyed the concept of the nice Jewish guy and the female equivlent and replaced them with an uzi-toting fascist’.

    And I’ll never forgive them for it! And I just about had people accepting me as ‘that nice Jew’ (when he’s not drinking) instead of ‘that cowardly traitor to his people’. And then came the Six-day War. After that nobody wanted nice Jewish guys any more, we were a drug on the market. And I had, really, no training for anything else.