Ombudsman: take action against Chief Rabbi for ‘political’ remarks

March 6, 2020 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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The Ombudsman’s Office of the Israeli Judiciary has recommended that Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef be tried for disparaging remarks he made in January against immigrants to Israel from the former USSR.

Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, the Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel at Shas party convention at Teddy Stadium, Jerusalem, Apr 14, 2017. Photo by Kobi Richter/TPS

A complaint was lodged by the Yisrael Beiteinu political party, which base is comprised primarily of former Russians, following which the ombudsman recommended that the Minister of Religious Affairs take disciplinary actions against Yosef for “his repeated statements on matters with a political hue that are at the heart of public controversy.”

Yosef said at a rabbinical conference in Jerusalem that Israeli immigrants from the former Soviet Union were “non-Jews” who are “enemies of religion, haters of religion” who were brought to Israel for the weaken the ultra-Orthodox parties’ electoral power.

“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.”

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.”

After hearing both sides and “in light of the foregoing, the complaint was found to be justified” and Yosef should be tried,” the ombudsman said.

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