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MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 8/10:

Just imagine for a moment if a few days before he was nominated to be Vice-President of the United States a major Arab leader had said Jews were "snakes", that they "were all thoroughly evil" and that "God himself was sorry he ever created them".  You can bet both Joe Lieberman and Holocaust-survivor Hadassah Lieberman, and Al Gore too, would have been outraged and would have insisted on providing us all with moral leadership.

Well, as Senator Lieberman was basking in the accolades of his being chosen to run for V-P, one of Israel's leading Rabbis, in fact a former Chief Rabbi of the country, did say these very things -- but about the children that have descended from Abraham's other wife, about the Arab people who are today far more numerous than the Jewish people.

But even though Senator Lieberman went to some pains to tell us how proud he is as a Jew, what a strong supporter he is of Israel, how he has many Arab friends (he named a few Arab Kings and rulers), how "the Rabbis" make exceptions for emergencies on the Sabbath, and how his wife comes from a family that survived the Holocaust, not a word from the Senator about one of the most blatantly racist and bigoted comments to be ever uttered in front of the world about an entire people by one of the major religious figures in Israel.

There is such a terrible double-standard these days; and sadly it is one many Jewish leaders have allowed to take hold and even encouraged.  Since the Holocaust the Jews have demanded many things for themselves -- including tremendous dollar amounts of reparations and restitution from far and wide.  But when the same terrible slanders that were once used against them and in fact led to the Holocaust are now uttered by senior personalities within their own ranks, the Jewish "moral" leaders of our day cower in submission, hide behind easy excuses, pretend they have no responsibility to loudly speak up, condemn, and insist "never again".

Meanwhile, at least an Israeli writer, Akiva Eldar, has filled in where Joe and Hadassah and Al fear to tread.  The following article is from the leading Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz, on Wednesday, written the very day Joe Lieberman was celebrating his nomination in front of the world without saying one word in public about any of this.

Let's not be coy or restrained about this; and let's not let the many available excuses prevail.  It was precisely this kind of moral insensitivity and political cowardice that initially led to Crystalnaught, then to the Yellow Stars, and then to the concentration camps and crematoriums of just 60 years ago.

Let's also not forget that as Gore and Lieberman were planning to come forward as a team to provide their brand of political and moral leadership last weekend, others in Washington were protesting the "genocide" of our time that these two American politicians have both personally helped bring about and which has resulted so far in 1.5 million corpses and tremendous human misery at the very cradle of Western Iraq.

And as Seymour Hersh, himself a courageous American Jewish journalist, warned in his important book "THE SAMPSON COMPLEX", deep-seated Israeli racism could still lead to a nuclear catastrophe in the Middle East with Israel carrying out its threats to unleash nuclear weapons on Arab capitals if anyone dares to challenge the Jewish State's continuing determination to dominate the region keeping the entire Arab and Muslim worlds weak, divided, and in post-colonial bondage.
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            "What, is the man an absolute idiot?
             Former Chief Rabbi Yosef speaking about PM Ehud Barak

            "They are like snakes....they are thoroughly evil...
            God regrets having created them".
             Former Chief Rabbi Yosef speaking about the Arabs

                    CUTTING THE TIES WITH SHAS

[Ha'aretz, Tel Aviv, 9 August, by Akiva Eldar]
Can you imagine the hue and cry here had the spiritual leader of the third largest political party in an enlightened Western country - say, Austria - were to refer to the Jews as "snakes" or to say that they "were all thoroughly evil" or to announce that "God regrets having created them"?.

Due to infinitely more moderate statements uttered by Austrian political leader Joerg Haider about Jews, the Israeli government recalled its ambassador from Vienna. Apparently, when racist remarks are aimed at the "Ishmaelites," they do not produce banner headlines in this country. When a racist leader can tip the scales in our political system, he does not have to watch his tongue and instead is free to speak in a way that led the authorities here to outlaw the late Meir Kahane's Kach party.

President Moshe Katsav just last week promised to be the president of all of Israel's citizens - Jews and Arabs alike - yet the only thing he did was to mutter a few words of apology to Holocaust survivors. After all, are derogatory remarks about a non-Jewish community enough justification for his getting into hot water with the person who calls the shots regarding who sits in the prime minister's office?

Even Prime Minister Ehud Barak is keeping a low profile on this affair. Instead of announcing that he was severing all ties with Shas, at least until the party formally denounces the wicked and inciteful statements of its leader, Barak is willing to do cartwheels just to get Shas back into his government. This, after hearing the barest hint from the party's chiefs that they might consider a return to the coalition.

The mainstream of Israeli politics was in an uproar, and justifiably so, over the slurring of the memory of the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. The organization that calls itself A Constitution for Israel published an ad on the front page of Monday's Ha'aretz under the rubric "Ovadia Yosef, we are sick to death of you!" The ad goes on to say that Rabbi Yosef has slandered the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and has also shown terrible disrespect for the prime minister.

Furthermore, the ad reminds us how Rabbi Yosef has viciously attacked the institution of the Supreme Court and how he has made inciting remarks against members of the Israeli cabinet.

Yet not one word was mentioned about the fact that he had dealt a blow to the dignity and sentiments of our Arab neighbors.

A dozen letters to the editor appeared in yesterday's Ha'aretz, all of them condemning Rabbi Yosef's interpretation of the Holocaust. Yet not one of these letters contained any allusion to the racist equation he had presented: Ishmaelites = snakes.

Shinui leader Yossi "Tommy" Lapid has dubbed Rabbi Yosef an "old fool" for having depicted the Nazis as emissaries of God. Lapid is mistaken here. Rabbi Yosef is no fool, but he has been making utter fools of the members of Israel's "peace camp" for years.

More than seven years ago, Rabbi Yosef told his adherents that the "Arabs are worse than the most dangerous beast on earth" and then added, "The whole world hates the Jews." Like a seasoned merchant, he offers his goods to the highest bidder. To some customers, he sells a territorial compromise, while to others he proposes a fresh batch of hatred.

One day he is talking with Minister Haim Ramon about "the sanctity of human life" as he promises that his followers will vote unanimously for presidential candidate Shimon Peres, and the next day he tells his flock that Barak is stupidly asking to "make peace with a snake."

Trying to offer an excuse for the unilateral withdrawal he made from his commitment to the principle of "One Nation - One Draft" and to the concept that yeshiva students should also be drafted into the Israel Defense Forces, Barak claimed that he had come to the realization that he would first have to work on the unification of the nation before he could start working on the unification of its draft procedures. Barak should listen carefully to Rabbi Yosef's criticism: "What, is the man an absolute idiot?"

Here we see him running amok toward the other side, just to make peace with them. And what kind of peace do you think he will obtain?"  This statement ironically describes the way the secular left sees Rabbi Yosef.  From Shas's perspective, there is only one way of achieving national unity: The game rules for the criminal justice system, for the norms of ethical government and for the proper administration of the state coffers will just have to be twisted out of shape in order to conform to Shas's criteria and to meet its needs. Even the idea of recycling plastic bottles, which makes sense to everyone else and which is intended to improve the quality of life, makes Shas unhappy. And who needs peace anyway, if others are willing to do the dirty work for you and to deal with a bunch of snakes?

The only thing worse than the political foolishness Rabbi Yosef displays in his attitude toward the "peace camp" is the adoption of a lenient, forgiving, understanding approach to his racist statements.

At best, Rabbi Yosef will instruct his followers to support the surrender of territory to a bunch of "wild beasts"; however, the price that Shas will demand in return - in terms of funding and new legislation - will be enough to frighten away the remaining Barak supporters among immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

If Barak wants to get chummy with Shas, he will only end up driving away the secular and Arab segments of the population that brought him to power in the first place. The road to Rabbi Ovadia's constituents starts from the grassroots where ordinary citizens seek solace from him for their poverty and their distress. Any benefits from courting Rabbi Yosef will be canceled out by the accompanying loss which will be twofold, both moral and political. The decision to bring Shas back into the cabinet should have been accompanied by instructions for returning Israel's ambassador to Vienna.

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