Rabbi's sermon criticized by State Department

Washington Times:

The State Department on Sunday condemned remarks by a prominent Israeli rabbi advocating divinely ordained death for the Palestinians and their leaders.

"We regret and condemn the inflammatory statements by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a statement. "We note the Israeli statement that the Rabbi's comments do not reflect the views of the Prime Minister. These remarks are not only deeply offensive, but incitement such as this hurts the cause of peace. As we move forward to relaunch peace negotiations, it is important that actions by people on all sides help to advance our effort, not hinder it."

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the 89-year-old former Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel and current spiritual leader of the ultra-orthodox Shas party, reportedly said in a sermon Saturday that "[Palestinian President] Abu Mazen and all these evil people should perish from this world … God should strike [the leaders of the Palestinian Authority] with a plague, them and these Palestinians."

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At 89 one's patients with adversaries becomes shorter. His sermon does not sound much different from what is heard in and out of the mosques of the Palestinian Muslims. It would not surprise me to see some examples of that rhetoric in the coming days.

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