Almost every news outlet that covered Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s death did so with apparent restraint. The largely one sided obituaries painted Yosef as “Influential,” a “Giant,” a “Spiritual leader,” a “Kingmaker” and yet when it came to his views on Islam, Arabs, Palestinians specifically, those descriptions are looked upon with confusion. This rabbi also had a very radical and dark side to his outlook of the “other.”
The Guardian was willing to provide one of the more complete obituaries by revealing Yosef’s many extremist, racist and dangerous views:
On the other hand, he often took abstruse, even offensive positions. He lambasted Reform Jews as “destroyers of religion”; claimed that Jewish law forbade men to walk between women; and told President Bill Clinton to “kiss our feet”. In 1999 he repudiated the supreme court after his protege, Aryeh Deri, was jailed for accepting bribes. In 2000 he called Holocaust victims “reincarnated souls of sinners”; later he likened Palestinian and Arab foes to snakes and vipers. In 2010 he said gentiles should serve Jews, he once called Binyamin Netanyahu a “blind she-goat” and this year he dubbed a religious Zionist party as a “home for goyim [non-Jews]”…
A spokesman for the downtrodden and a champion of faith, or a bigoted autocrat who undermined democracy, and whose political dalliances sullied his religious purity? At least Yosef silenced orthodox Ashkenazim who once had lampooned him and his community.
The New York Times made mention of these views on page 2 with only one passing sentence:
In 2010, he called President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority “evil” and asked God to strike “these Ishmaelites and Palestinians with a plague, these evil haters of Israel.”
The only critical sentence in the NPR obituary was a single sentence on the rabbi’s “conservatism,” his remarks about Muslims were omitted and NPR framed the sentence as though Yosef was an equal opportunity hater of secular Jews and Arabs/Muslims alike.:
In later years, he was widely seen as becoming more conservative in his views. And the outspoken rabbi also famously called several other leaders “evil” — including Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, and Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas.
But from all the articles not one news outlet covered his Islamophobic beliefs. His anti-Muslim venom. I had to dig up an old article here on LW to remind myself what he said:
Israel’s top Rabbi, Shas party spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, harshly criticized Islam as a religion and described it as an “ugly” faith during a speech he delivered on Saturday night for the occasion of Hanukah. The comments have left many in the Arab world questioning the role of religious leaders in the Jewish state. The Rabbi, according to a report by Egypt’s al-Youm al-Saba’a newspaper, who quoted the statements of the Rabbi from Israel’s Ma’arev daily newspaper, reportedly said, “Islam is the worst religion and a religion that disregards the rules of marriage and divorce among Muslims.”
- Guardian: Rabbi Ovadia Yosef obituary
- Huffington post: Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Dead: Head Of Shas, Israel Sephardic Jews Dies At 93
- Jewish Press: Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, One of Today’s Giant Torah Sages, Dies at 93
- Israel National News: Leading Sephardic Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Dies Aged 93
- Al Jazeera English: Israel’s Rabbi Ovadia Yosef dies at 93: Influential spiritual leader of Sephardic Jewish community and ultra-Orthodox Shas party dies in Jerusalem hospital.
- Ynet News: Rabbi Ovadia Yosef dies at 93
- Jpost: Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef dies at 93
- NYTimes: Page 1:Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Influential Spiritual Leader in Israel, Dies at 93 /Page 2: Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Influential Spiritual Leader in Israel, Dies at 93
- NPR: Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, A ‘Kingmaker’ In Israeli Politics, Dies
- Christian Science Monitor: Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s death robs Israel of spiritual and political powerhouse
- LA Times: Rabbi Ovadia Yosef dies at 93; Israeli ultra-Orthodox leader