The Obama administration condemned what it said was incitement by an influential Israeli rabbi.
“We regret and condemn the inflammatory statements by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Sunday in a statement.
On the eve of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Yosef, a former chief Sephardic rabbi and the spiritual leader of the Shas Party, wished for the demise of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“Abu Mazen and all these evil people should perish from this world,” Yosef reportedly said during his weekly Saturday night sermon at a Jerusalem synagogue, using Abbas’ byname. “God should strike them with a plague, them and these Palestinians.”
Who was Rabbi Ovadia Yosef inciting? He was only inciting God. Is the State Department afraid that Rabbi Yosef has pull with the Holy One?
This controversy over the rabbi’s latest sermon is silly. Rabbi Yosef is praying to God that He smite Israel’s enemies. Fine. If Muslim clerics prayed to God that He smite the Jews, fine.
Rabbi Yosef did not call on Jews to murder innocent Palestinians. Rabbi Yosef did not call on Jews to do anything bad to Palestinians.
I don’t think the rabbi’s remarks are a big deal. There is all the difference in the world between calling on God to do something harsh and calling on people to do something harsh.