August 7, 2000
11:17 AM   Subscribe

Wow, talk about an insult to the victims of the Holocaust. What a nutcase!
posted by tomcosgrave (10 comments total)
Apparently the Rabbi is Hitler reborn! Who would say such things?! Nutcase is correct!!!
posted by FAB4GIRL at 11:33 AM on August 7, 2000

Yeah, I saw this today, was going to post it, but, then,
posted by tiaka at 11:50 AM on August 7, 2000

Wow, I'm shocked and disturbed that a religious figure could say something stupid and mean. That's so unusual.

posted by Doug at 11:51 AM on August 7, 2000

I always thought it was stupid people that were snakes despised by God. Or is that ugly people?

It's so hard to tell the damned from the saved without a scorecard.
posted by chicobangs at 12:00 PM on August 7, 2000

Blah: this is related to an ongoing dispute over the political influence of different sects. It's basically a question of race (yes, I know there's an irony there...): Shas represents the Sephardic Jews of immediate Middle Eastern ancestry, whereas political power in Israel has tended to be concentrated around Ashkenazy Jews from central and eastern Europe.

What's more disturbing is that the particular brand of proportional representation in Israel gives disproportionate power to religious extremists such as Shas: they can more or less decide which of the major parties leads the Government. It's certainly not led to stable government in one of the world's powderkegs.
posted by holgate at 1:49 PM on August 7, 2000

Interesting, and not in a good way, of course... but if he is indeed "one of Israel's most eminent rabbis" this will undoubtedly call into question his views on all other matters. Funny how it just came out now; the article doesn't mention what prompted him to discuss the topic. It's hard to know what content is in his usual radio sermons without being a regular listener.

Incidentally, does anyone have an opinion on the fact that he is described as the "spiritual head of the ultra-Orthodox Shas movement"? History on this movement? Past opinions put forth by this movement? It might all have some bearing and explanation for his comments.
posted by evixir at 2:01 PM on August 7, 2000

Blimey. Waited too long to post. Thanks for the clarification, holgate.
posted by evixir at 2:13 PM on August 7, 2000

As ever, the BBC is useful here for background. And apparently, while Rabbi Yosef has attempted to limit the damage of his Holocaust comments, he still regards Palestinians as snakes.

(What interests me is the similarity of the rabbi's dress to that of the Eastern Patriarchs. William Dalrymple's wonderful From The Holy Mountain makes the point that the cultures and practices of the three Abrahamic religions are perhaps most intricately interwoven in the very places that they are politically the most fiercely divided.)
posted by holgate at 6:13 PM on August 7, 2000

An even better analysis of the political dynamics of Shas here, courtesy of the American Jewish Committee. What's interesting is that its political constituency is built more around Sephardi identity than Orthodox religious practice:

Former chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual mentor of Shas, symbolizes for his followers -- most of whom are not Orthodox in observance -- a fierce pride in Sephardi historical memories and traditions. Long-simmering resentment at perceived anti-Sephardi bias in Israeli life goes a long way toward explaining the groundswell of support for former party leader Aryeh Deri even after his conviction on criminal charges: Shas voters perceive Deri as a victim of an Ashkenazi-dominated court system.
posted by holgate at 6:32 PM on August 7, 2000

What I find interesting is the cart-before-the-horse American-media interpretation of Oriental (Sephardic) Jews' history. What our media fails to point out is that despite isolated incidents, the Sephardim were really only persecuted after the creation of the state of Israel, and in genreral were far better regarded and treated in the Arab world than in the European world.
posted by chaz at 12:42 AM on August 8, 2000

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