Chief Rabbi attempts to appease Russian immigrants after calling them ‘enemies of religion’

January 9, 2020 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef has attempted to appease the Israeli immigrants from the former Soviet Union after accusing them of being “non-Jews” who are “enemies of religion, haters of religion” who were brought to Israel for the weaken the ultra-Orthodox parties’ electoral power.

Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Son of the well known Former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Ovadi Yosef Speaks at the Annual “Jerusalem Conference” convention sponsored by the Besheva News outlet. Febuary 13, 2017 Photo By: Adi Gefen/TPS

At a rabbinical conference in Jerusalem last week, Yosef said that “they brought them here to the country to counterbalance the ultra-Orthodox community so that if there were elections, the ultra-Orthodox wouldn’t get many [seats in the Knesset].”

“There are many, many non-Jews here, some of them are Communist, enemies of religion, haters of religion. They are complete non-Jews, absolute non-Jews,” he added.

His statements drew harsh criticism from across the political spectrum, prompting him to issue a clarification of his statements.

He said that Russian immigration to Israel is “welcomed” and that he “respects all immigrants, Jews and non-Jews. At the same time, the rabbi said that some non-Jewish immigrants have developed a hatred of Judaism and he spoke about them.”

“There is the blessed immigration of hundreds of thousands of Jews who immigrated here to the Land of Israel and we receive them with great love and affection,” he explained in a Tuesday statement.

“But there is another immigration, we will not deny it, immigration of those non-Jews, not only are they non-Jews but there are those who even develop a hatred of Judaism, towards anything sacred, that we have talked about. They caused all sorts of terrible incitement against Judaism,” he charged.

He urged all Russian immigrants “not to take part in the incitement that some people are doing” in an attempt to exploit his previous statements “for political interests.”

Members of Knesset who immigrated from the former USSR and who were vocal in criticizing Yosef for his last week remained silent following his clarification.

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