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August 2000 - Current Index Complete Index This Month     MiddleEast.Org 8/09/00
News, Information, & Analysis That Governments, Interest Groups, and the Corporate Media Don't Want You To Know! 
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      "How can you make peace with a snake? The Ishmaelites
 [Arabs] are all accursed evil people... God regrets
 having created these Ishmaelites."

 "Rabbi Ovadiah's fulminations cannot easily be dismissed.
 A former chief rabbi of Israel, and a religious scholar
 of some repute, he is also the spiritual leader of the
 Shas party, the kingmaker of Israeli coalition politics."

MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - 8/8/00:
   It's rather ironic that in the modern secular world of the 20th century there is a such a revival of theocratic based nationalism in the Middle East.  Whatever one's view of this development its important to realize that this didn't start with the Iranian revolution against the Westernized Shah.  Nor did it begin with the Muslims who in casting off the Ottoman Empire early in the last century dreamed of an Arab nation based on geographic nationalism.  It actually started with the birth of the first specifically religiously identified state in the region in 1948, the "Jewish State".  And the ramifications of this development are still taking place.  The following article appeared in ©The Guardian on 7 August by Suzanne Goldenberg writing from Jerusalem:

"The bad boy of the Israeli rabbinate created a rare unity between Arab and
Jew yesterday, scandalising his own people by saying that the millions killed
in the Nazi Holocaust were sinners, and outraging Palestinians by declaring
them accursed "snakes" despised by God.

The outpourings from Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, who devoted his Saturday sermon to
the Holocaust and the Arab-Israeli peace process, caused a firestorm as
prominent Israeli rabbis and politicians as well as Palestinians took to the
airwaves to deplore his views.

"The victims of the Holocaust, all 6 million Jews, all those poor people who
were lost at the hands of those evildoers the Nazis were reincarnations of
earlier souls who sinned time and again and did all sorts of things that
shouldn't have been done, and were reincarnated so that things could be set
right," the rabbi told a crowded synagogue in Jerusalem, and thousands of
followers who tuned in on pirate radio stations.

He berated the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, for trying to make peace
with the Palestinians. "Why are you bringing them close to us? You bring
snakes next to us. How can you make peace with a snake?" Rabbi Ovadiah told
his applauding followers.

"The Ishmaelites [Arabs] are all accursed evil people. They are all haters of
Israel. God regrets having created these Ishmaelites," he went on.

Rabbi Ovadiah's fulminations cannot easily be dismissed. A former chief rabbi
of Israel, and a religious scholar of some repute, he is also the spiritual
leader of the Shas party, the kingmaker of Israeli coalition politics.

Shas, which combines ultra-Orthodox theology and ethnic pride of Middle
Eastern Jews, is the third largest party in the Israeli knesset, or
parliament, and Mr Barak is desperate to woo its 17 parliamentarians back to
his coalition. That explains the prime minister's tepid response yesterday.

Ignoring the slur against the Palestinians, Mr Barak said the rabbi's
comments did not befit a religious leader of his stature. "They are liable to
harm the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust and the feelings of
their family members," his office said in a statement.

Mr Barak's silence on the attack on Arabs was inexcusable, said the
Palestinian information minister, Yasser Abed Rabbo. "Every Israeli stands
accused of being a racist until he condemns this racist and idiot."

An Israeli Arab member of the Knesset, Ahmed Tibi, said he would ask Israel's
attorney general to charge the rabbi. That seems unlikely; the attorney
general has already refused to charge Rabbi Ovadiah with incitement after he
called the secular education minister an enemy of the Jews who should be

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