The Zionist Conspiracy
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef On Katrina
In his weekly Torah sermon, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef stated that the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina is G-d's punishment for U.S. support for Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Rabbi Yosef further remarked that G-d specifically brought the carnage on the black residents of New Orleans.
When rabbis of lower esteem make statements such as these, the appropriate response is to condemn those remarks. When a person of Rabbi Yosef's stature says what he said, not only is it necessary to condemn, the condemnation must be stronger and absolutely unequivocal.
I am sure there will be much negative fallout from Rabbi Yosef's comments, and I fear that many well-meaning observant Jews will struggle to explain that the comments were taken out of context, should not be taken literally, etc.
They shouldn't. It's not our job to rationalize idiocy, regardless of who the person expressing the idiocy is.
From a theological perspective, Rabbi Yosef's statements are preposterous. Judaism recognizes that it is appropriate to look inward when hardship occurs, to seek reasons for painful events. However, nobody has a direct line to G-d, and nobody should have the arrogance to claim knowledge of why disaster occurs.
The racism in Rabbi Yosef's remarks is also disgraceful. The best one can say is that it likely comes out of sheer ignorance and prejudice, rather than out of malice.
Finally, even if one were to look upon Katrina solely from a completely Jewish-centric perspective - in other words, as though the only suffering that anyone should care about is Jewish suffering - Rabbi Yosef's comments are absurd. There are quite a few Jewish residents of New Orleans (including very religiously observant ones) who are now left homeless by Katrina. Shuls have been completely destroyed. The notion that G-d would respond to the expulsion of Jews from Gaza and the destruction of shuls in Gaza by expelling Jews in New Orleans from their homes and causing the destruction of shuls and day schools in New Orleans is moronic.
(Of course, looking at Katrina solely from a Jewish-centric perspective is not acceptable; my point is simply to point out the foolishness of Rabbi Yosef's sermon even from what appears to be his own perspective.)