We honor politicians who denounce members of their party or of their administration who lie, cheat, steal, or defame. Those who defend such behavior—or are silent about it—are encouraging it and eventually own it as their own. Some try to have it both ways—gently stepping away from the crime without offending the criminal. Like Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu?
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reports today that Ovadia Yosef, formerly chief rabbi of Israel, called yesterday during his weekly Shabbat sermon, for death to all Palestinians. Rabbi Yosef, spiritual leader and a founder of Israel’s leading ultra-Orthodox Shas Party—part of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s governing coalition with four ministers—described Palestinians as evil, bitter enemies of Israel:
“Abu Mazen [more commonly known as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] and all these evil people should perish from this world … God should strike them with a plague, them and these Palestinians.”
Nothing new for Rabbi Yosef. Haaretz also quotes a 2001 speech in which he proclaimed,
“It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable.”
When asked for a comment yesterday, Netanyahu’s office fell despicably short of condemnation, issuing a statement, according to the Jerusalem Post, that Yosef’s comments:
“don’t represent the views of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or the Israeli government. Israel entered into negotiations out of a desire to progress with the Palestinians toward an agreement that will end the conflict and ensure peace, security, and good neighborly relations between the two nations.”