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Sunday, July 14, 2013 

Another Shas rabbi goes overboard

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef isn't the only Shas leader who's been spewing nasty, bigoted remarks about non-Haredis. Now he's been joined by rabbi Shalom Cohen, who's just as bad, possibly worse:
Shas’s Council of Torah Sages member Rabbi Shalom Cohen in a sermon Saturday made degrading remarks against the religious Zionist sector by questioning their Jewishness and referring to them as "Amalek" - a biblical tribe hostile to the ancient Israelites.

Cohen, dean of the Porat Yosef Yeshiva, was seen in a video on the haredi website Kikar Hashabat as saying, "the Throne [of God] is not complete as long as there are Amalek, ..when will the Throne be complete? When there are no more [religious Zionists]."

Bayit Yehudi Chairman and Religious Services Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday blasted Cohen for his remarks.

Bennett called on Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who was seated next to Cohen during the sermon, to condemn the "incitement campaign against the [religious Zionists] before it is too late".

"At this time, thousands of [religious Zionists] can be found from the Syrian border to the Egyptian border, from the highest level of command [in the army] to the last soldier, spilling their blood to defend [the country], and the honor of the rabbi."
Where and when will the revulsion end? The staff of Shas must be pressured somehow to cut out their hatemongering that's mainly leveled against nearly anybody who's not Haredi. The Times of Israel describes Cohen's screed like this:
Referring to the national religious Israelis by the colloquial Hebrew term for “knit kipa” — the preferred headgear for such Jews — Cohen declared in a sermon delivered Saturday night that “as long as there are knit kippot, the [divine] throne is not whole. That’s Amalek. When will the throne be whole? When there is no knit kipa.”
So any man who wears a knitted kippa, dresses simpler than Haredis do, is an abomination, and you can be sure he must think the same about non-Haredi women too. Shameful. Cohen is a rabbi in name only. Why, someone from the same Sephardic background he comes from had the following to say:
As a Sephardi Jew who is proud of my ancestor's tradition of sages who spoke words of Torah with grace, kindness, love and respect, I am ashamed at this primitive outburst of hatred and divisiveness. Rabbi Uziel (who sought unity his entire career, and was the Nasi of the same Yeshivat Porat Yosef where this so-called rabbi is today) would turn over in his grave if he heard such words from a so-called "spiritual leader." What is the point of fasting and reading Kinnot on Tisha B'Av, if we begin "Shavua She-hal Bo Tisha B'Av" with such divisive words? Hoping and praying for the fulfillment of our daily prayer -- הָשִׁיבָה שׁוֹפְטֵינוּ כְּבָרִאשׁוֹנָה, וְיוֹעֲצֵינוּ כְּבַתְּחִלָּה.
Amen. How can Cohen abuse the bible and twist its scriptures out of context by comparing Jews to Amalek, while acting as though ultra-Orthodox are the only true Jews? Again, another Haredi rabbi demonstrates why they're not saints any more than anybody else.

Update: also worth pondering:
Rabbi Cohen's words - uttered in the presence of Rabbi Ovadia Yoseph, a leading Hareidi rabbi - will be seen as yet another worrying example of an escalated campaign of incitement by the hareidi leadership against other sectors of Israeli society.

Last week, such incitement was blamed for at least two separate violent attacks against hareidi-religious soldiers by hareidi extremists.
I think there's very valid concern here. Some non-Haredis are reluctant to stroll through Haredi neighborhoods for fear of being harassed/assaulted/terrorized by hoodlums from the most deranged sects. What if this leads to more similar cases?

Update: frighteningly enough, I seem to have made a prophecy: another soldier was attacked today:
The police reported that another haredi attack on a religious soldier took place on Sunday afternoon in the ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Yisrael, close to Mea Shearim.

According to police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby, two haredi men attacked a uniformed soldier with a knitted yarmulke who was passing by on Sha’arei Shamayim Street.

Ben-Ruby said that the passers by spat at the soldier and punched him. The soldier fled the scene and called police to assist him. He was extracted from the area by police without injury.

The suspects also fled the scene with Yassam motorbike mounted police units searching for them in the neighborhood.
If this is correct, there's a chance those hoodlums might've been influenced by the very kind of hate Cohen was spewing. As before, this is truly disgusting, and I think the victims should file a motion in court against any "rabbi" who dares incite this kind of sickness.

Update 3: Cohen has been doing damage control, attempting to "clarify" his statements by saying they were only aimed at the Jewish Home party. Sorry, but I don't buy, and it doesn't excuse his crude tactics either.

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