The sermon delivered by Rabbi Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas Party in Israel, and broadcast in part on Israel Radio on Sunday, is an embarrassment to all Jews.
Referring to the leader of the Palestinian Authority and his followers, the rabbi said that “Abu Mazen and all these evil people should perish from the earth.”
What saddens me is that this sentiment comes from one of the most influential rabbis in the world, and that few of his colleagues have spoken out against such hateful rhetoric.
We Jews, rightfully, insist on Arab and Muslim leaders condemn hateful speech about Jews; how can we do less?
While in no way defending the words and sentiments of the 89-year-old and widely revered Sephardi rabbi, I simply note that such words of hate are heard so regularly and so widely in the Arab world about Jews that they rarely, if ever, draw media attention.
Even we ourselves shrug our shoulders when we hear of Muslim clerics in the West Bank, Gaza or in Arab countries referring to Jews as pigs, monkeys, spreaders of AIDS, enemies of peace and undeserving of life. It is so common that we – and I include myself – almost dismiss it without fully appreciating the level of inhumanity it implies.
And of course the president of Iran insists that Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth to spare the world of evil, and the nations of the so-called international community ignore him.
Hateful speech should be condemned, publicly and directly, whenever and wherever it is heard. It’s that simple.