The Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yitzhak Yosef, recently said that non-Jews should not be allowed to reside in the country if they do not adhere to a set of seven laws mandated. These laws,according to the Talmud, were given by God for the children of Noah or all of humanity.
“According to Jewish law, gentiles should not live in the Land of Israel,” Yosef said in a sermon on March 26. “If a gentile does not agree to take on the seven Noahide Laws, we should send him to Saudi Arabia. When the true and complete redemption arrives, that is what we will do.”
According to 64-year-old Yosef, the only reason non-Jews are still allowed to live in the Land of Israel is the fact that the messiah is yet to arrive.
“If our hand were firm, if we had the power to rule, that’s what we should do. But the thing is, our hand is not firm, and we are waiting for the Messiah,” he added.
Yosef elucidated that gentiles who agree to abide by the Noahide Laws, a fundamental moral code –that includes restrictions on denying God’s existence, blasphemy, illicit sexual relations, murder, theft, eating from a live animal as well as an obligation to set up a legal system– would be allowed to stay in the Jewish state and play the roles that have been reserved for gentiles in serving Jews.
“Who will be the servers? Who will be our assistants? Therefore, we leave them here in the land,” he said.
A couple of weeks before this particular sermon, Yosef said that Israelis should kill knife-wielding, life-threatening terrorists without fearing the law.
“If a terrorist shows up with a knife, it is commanded [by Jewish law] to kill him,” Yosef said at the Yazdim Synagogue in Jerusalem while quoting the ancient rabbinic exhortation.
“You shouldn’t be afraid… He who comes to kill you, arise to kill him [first].”
Yosef then warned Israelis not to be concerned by what he described as the vicissitudes of generals or judges.
“When faced with an armed assailant, don’t start worrying that someone will take you to the High Court of Justice, or that some [IDF] chief of staff will say otherwise,” he further stated.
He went on to say however Israelis should not kill a terrorist who no longer poses a threat to humanity; explaining that the messiah, who was yet to arrive, was the only arbitrator who could sentence to death a non-threatening enemy.
On March 29 however, Yosef denied having urged the expulsion of non-Jews from the Jewish state. A statement from his office clarified that his Saturday sermon had referred to a theoretical post-messianic setting and his comments were not relevant to contemporary times.
“What is clear is that there is no law in our time that calls for the expulsion of non-Jews from the country, “ the statement said.
Stressing Yosef has always acted in the name of reconciliation, the statement further clarified that Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi did not demand the killing of any Palestinian attackers who may have been taken into custody or wounded at the scene.
“Contrary to reports, he was one of the only people to declare that a neutralized terrorist should not be killed but handed over to law enforcement authorities,” the statement said.
The statement also accused Israeli media of having distorted Yosef’s words, taken them out of context and presented them in negative light.
Yet, Jewish leaders in the United Kingdom went on to castigate Yosef for having said that non-Jews residing in Israel should be expelled and sent to Saudi Arabia. Despite his office having denied his outrageous comments, Yosef’s sermon caused instant recoil at the Board of Deputies of British Jews. The organization’s president as well as senior vice president issued a strong statement of condemnation, accusing Yosef of encouraging race-hate crimes against religious minorities in Israel.
“Such comments risk stoking prejudice, at a time when unity is sorely needed,” said Jonathan Arkush and Richard Verber. “They are also a source of embarrassment.”
Both men added that it was important to remember and uphold the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel, which promises complete equality of political and social rights to all its citizens irrespective of race, religion and sex; as well as ensures freedom of religion, language, conscience, culture and education.
Photo Credits: Mint Press News