Rabbi calls for annihilation of Arabs


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Tuesday, 10 April, 2001, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Rabbi calls for annihilation of Arabs

Rabbi Yosef is known for his outspoken comments

The spiritual leader of Israel's ultra-orthodox Shas party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, 
has provoked outrage with a sermon calling for the annihilation of Arabs.

"It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and 
annihilate them. They are evil and damnable," he was quoted as saying in a 
sermon delivered on Monday to mark the Jewish festival of Passover.

Rabbi Yosef is one of the most powerful religious figures in Israel, He is known
for his outspoken comments and has in the past referred to the Arabs as 

Through his influence over Shas, Israel's third largest political party, he is 
also a significant political figure.

As founder and spiritual leader of the political party Shas, Rabbi Yosef is held
in almost saintly regard by hundreds of thousands of Jews of Middle Eastern and 
North African origin.

The Palestinian Authority has condemned the sermon as racist and is calling on 
international organisations to treat the rabbi as a war criminal.

'Arab terrorists'

Rabbi Yosef said in his sermon that enemies have tried to hurt the Jewish people
from the time of the exodus from Egypt to this day.

"The Lord shall return the Arabs' deeds on their own heads, waste their seed and
exterminate them, devastate them and vanish them from this world," he said.

Shas spokesman, Yitzhaq Suderi defended the rabbi, saying his remarks referred 
only to "Arab murderers and terrorists" and not the Arab people as a whole.

'Stirring up hatred'

Palestinian cabinet minister Hassan Asfur urged international civil institutions
and human rights organisations to consider Rabbi Yosef a war criminal in future.

The utterances were "a clear call for murder and a political an intellectual 
terrorism that will lead to military terrorism", he said in remarks reported on 
Palestinian radio.

He added that no punishment would come from Israel "because its political 
culture and action are in line with [the rabbi's] racist statements".

Israeli Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit also condemned the sermon, saying: "A 
person of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's stature must refrain from acrid remarks such as 

And he added: "I suggest that we not learn from the ways of the Palestinians and
speak in verbal blows like these."

Salah Tarif, the only Arab cabinet minister in the Israeli government, also 
criticized Rabbi Yosef, saying "his remarks add nothing but hatred".

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