Since it covered itself with obloquy by taking a stand against the proposed Islamic community center in lower Manhattan, the ADL has been eager to put some distance between itself and its co-opponents. Franklin Graham, for example, who seized the occasion to issue his latest denunciation of Islam in general:
President Bush and President Obama made great mistakes when they said
that Islam is a peaceful religion. It is not. There is no evidence in
its history. It’s a religion of hatred. It’s a religion of war.
In response, ADL national director Abe Foxman took to the Huffington Post to denounce “groups with extreme anti-Muslim agendas,” including those protesting with vile words and deeds the construction of mosques and Islamic centers in other parts of the country.
Now comes Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, founder and now spiritual head of Israel’s ultra-orthodox Shas Party and, mutatis mutandis, Franklin Graham’s Israeli equivalent when it comes to Islam. Yesterday, he declared that God should send a plague to strike down the Palestinians and their leader, Mahmoud Abbas. Shas happens to be a member of the current Israeli governing coalition, whose leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is about to enter into formal peace talks with Abbas. Netanyahu issued a mild statement to the effect that R. Yosef’s comments “do not reflect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s view or the position of the government of Israel.” Let it be known that the current government of Israel is not pro-plague.
To its credit, the ADL’s Israel office has not been shy about criticizing Yosef’s incendiary rhetoric in the past, and not only when he has, for example, called down God’s wrath on the likes of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Back in April of 2001, the office denounced both a Passover sermon in which Yosef called for all Arabs to be annihilated and his subsequent “clarification” that he was only talking about terrorists. It is to be expected that a similar criticism will be forthcoming about the latest Yosef effusion.
But it would be more than appropriate if, this time around, Foxman himself stepped up to plate. What goes for Franklin Graham should go for Ovadia Yosef.
P.S. After a couple of weeks in Maine, it’s great to be back. I guess.
Update: And Foxman does it.