Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Racist Comment!

Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yitzhak Yosef (Times of Israel)
I hesitate to call Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yosef racist. But I am afraid that the shoe might fit. It is shocking to hear an otherwise respected religious leader refer to black men as a monkeys. And during a religious sermon, no less!

This is a leader whose own people are discriminated against by many Asheknazi Jews. Even Orthodox ones. An injustice Rabbi Yosef has courageously fought against all of his life . An injustice that is ironically based in part on the fact that many Sephardi Jews are darker skinned than Ashkenazi Jews.

That said, I don’t think Rabbi Yosef wants to persecute black people. He is not that kind of racist. But he does apparently consider them an inferior race. In my book, that is racism. Not much different than referring to Jews as an inferior race by neo Nazis.

To say the least, I am disgusted by it.

It is bad enough when any human being refers to a member of a particular race as a monkey. But when a Chief Rabbi does it, it increases the pain because he speaks as a religious authority.  His so-called explanation does not in any way soothe the hurt he must have caused black people that have heard about this. It actually makes what he said even worse.

And then there is the setback he has caused to relations between the black and the Jewish community with a comment like that.  If I were a black person, I would want to have nothing to do with a people whose religion considers me a monkey. I would be much more inclined to turn to people like Louis Farrakhan; believe his lies about Jews; and cheer the venom he spews at us.

Which makes Rabbi Yosef’s comment rise to the level of a Chilul HaShem. I reject and condemn it as un-Jewish and untrue. No human being is a monkey. Human beings are created in the image of God. Calling someone a monkey because of his skin color is counter to that biblical concept.

And now this Chilul HaShem has spread far beyond Jewish circles and has made it into widely read secular media like Newsweek.  I cannot imagine the level of damage he has as a rabbinic leader done to the image of Jewish people. I’m not even sure an apology would work anymore. If I were Rabbi Yosef and wanted to make amends to both black people and his own Jewish people, the best way to do that would be to resign as Chief Rabbi.