Prominent Rabbi Rejects African Workers
"Catholics could be utilized to help Israel fight a war against fundamentalist Islam"—Yisrael Rozen
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Attacks on Africans
Despite requests from readers, I didn't react to the second wave of attacks; I wanted to find out who the provoker of the violence was, and that wasn't easy. Yet, the large numbers of people exposed to the racist venom were a sign that eventually the message would appear in the mainstream media. Camouflaged among a bunch of bulky Bolivians, I waited. On Friday, June 15, 2012, Rabbi Yisrael Rozen wrote an article named "Africa is Here!" The racist piece was published by Arutz Sheva (Channel 7) Israel National Radio which has its headquarters in Beit El, the settlement in the center of the Ulpana Affair. The rabbi made astonishing statements there.
Yisrael Rozen is a prominent rabbi living in Alon Shvut, an illegitimate West Bank settlement. A Haredi rabbi, he founded the Judaism Conversion Office in the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, where he is a judge. He is director of the Zomet Institute for the interface of religion and technology; as such, he received in 2008 the Lev Prize by Machon Lev for outstanding achievement in torah and science. He is also the editor-in-chief of the annual journal Techumin published by that institute, and edits the weekly newsletter Shabbat B'Shabbato (roughly "Every Saturday" in Hebrew), where he writes a weekly column. I almost forgot to say that he was born in Tel Aviv, where he still has substantial contacts with the local rabbinate.
All this is not enough to accurately establish his worldview. In 2009, during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Israel, the rabbi's message to the visitor was that Jesus was a false messiah who deserved to die, but that Catholics could be utilized to help Israel fight a war against fundamentalist Islam. In other words, probably there isn't a better candidate for spreading racism along Tel Aviv's beaches.
The rabbi seized the opportunity handed to him by the settlers' main media outlet to publish one of the most racist articles ever published in Hebrew. Luckily for him, many of the idioms used lose much of their original strength when translated into English; yet, the material is clear. "The main problem is operational; how do we stop the infiltrators' flow, and get rid of those who are already here?" The rabbi asks this question almost at the beginning of his piece and then he adds: "We treat the issue of African infiltrators as a first rate national danger. This danger dwarves—almost zeroes—the personal and human dimensions of the problem." As a reference justifying this he cites an article he published already in 1983, where he explained the violation of human rights of foreign workers on Talmudic grounds.
Until now, this was just mildly racist; in order to make his point clearer he added a paragraph which—knowing the numbers I cited above—can be defined only as a wild exaggeration and xenophobic in nature: "There is no need to say many words regarding the national danger originating in the thousands of infiltrators every month, and in the many tens-of-thousands of Sudanese and Eritreans that fill up southern Tel Aviv overflowing from there to all the cities and villages of the country. They are foreigners who ruin the very fragile demography of Israel. They don't work, they drink, rape, rob and are violent; they frighten the neighbors, and because of their numbers, they can't be spread out one in the city and two in the village. They are an economic burden, who eats food that is not enough to feed its legal owners…" Was Rabbi Rozen paraphrasing a Nazi discourse on Jews? He sounds like Goebbels to me…
Following this ugly racist tantrum, the rabbi proposes "to throw them in a forgotten corner of Africa; the IDF will find a suitable spot," but that not before "not letting them work for a salary, but in exchange for food, bed, and basic health care." The only allowed exception is if they will work in the construction of the southern fence designated to block the entrance of their brothers. I searched the article for the relevant word, but it wasn't there. The prominent rabbi is so wise on technological issues that he forgot the moral considerations expected from a religious man. What he is proposing is called "slavery," and has become the core—the Jewish Heart—of modern Judaism.
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