God must kill 'evil' Arabs, says rabbiBy Phil Reeves in Jerusalem
10 April 2001
A fresh political furore has erupted in Israel after the spiritual leader of Shas, the third largest party in parliament, declared in a sermon that God must annihilate the "evil, damnable" Arabs and rain missiles down on them.
The remarks by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, whose ultra-Orthodox party holds several ministries in Ariel Sharon's government, were widely criticised by politicians in Israel yesterday and also by their chief target - the Palestinians.
Israel has frequently, and sometimes justifiably, condemned the Palestinian media of incitement and has also accused Yasser Arafat of failing to call for an end to the violence during the past six months.
The 80-year-old rabbi has a long track record of inflammatory speeches and is highly influential, especially among the blue-collar Sephardim - Jews of North African and Middle Eastern origin - who form the bulk of Shas's support. Shas controls the Interior and Religious Affairs ministries.
Ma'ariv newspaper said that the rabbi pleaded in his sermon to God to defeat Israel's Arab enemies, declaring that "it is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must give them missiles, with relish - annihilate them. Evil ones, damnable ones".
The Palestinian information minister, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said: "This is the third time the rabbi has espoused such openly racist views and neither his party nor the government in which his party serves has been bothered to apologise."
Meir Sheetrit, a cabinet minister from Likud, told Israel Radio: "I suggest that we not learn from the ways of the Palestinians and speak in verbal blows like these."
Salah Tarif, the cabinet's only Arab, said the rabbi's remarks add "nothing but hatred" to the strained relations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Rabbi Yosef and his party has a long record of extorting money and
positions from Israeli leaders in return for votes. His other
contributions to national debate over the years have included
recommending that women who wear wigs will be burnt in hell, and
calling for a ban on reading secular newspapers as they are guilty of
"blasphemy, idle breath, licentiousness and incitement".
Back to the section on Jewish "religion" and racism