The fact that he is old is no excuse.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said, in a sermon at a synagogue in Jerusalem this weekend, a few days before last-ditch efforts to hold Israeli-Palestinian direct talks in Washington, that “Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] and all these evil people should perish from this world … God should strike them with a plague, them and these Palestinians”. His remarks were reported on Israeli Army Radio [the most popular radio station in Israel] overnight.
As media reports indicate, this is not the first time that Yosef has said some truly shocking things.
It goes to show, among other things, that the brazen ugliness of hate-filled incitement is not a one-sided phenomena in this conflict.
But, supporters of Israel are by far the most vociferous in denouncing any instances of Palestinian bad behavior they can find.
They also make periodic demands that all errors be corrected before any engagement in any peace process.
Today, the Palestinian chief negotiator did the same, as his office informed journalists by email this afternoon. Saeb Erakat “called on the Israeli government to denounce and take appropriate action against the constant Israeli incitement and racism against Palestinians. Dr. Erakat’s call came after comments made by Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas Party, during his weekly sermon. Yosef ‘s party, Shas, is one of the main coalition members in Netanyahu’s government. [n.b. - Shas Minister Eli Yishi now heads the Israeli Ministry of Interior...] In his sermon, Yosef declared that President Mahmoud Abbas and the rest of the Palestinian people must ‘perish’ from this world … ‘The spiritual leader of Shas is literally calling for a genocide against Palestinians and there seems to be no response from the Israeli government’, Erekat said, adding that Yosef ‘is particularly calling for the assassination of President Abbas who within a few days will be sitting face to face with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Is this how the Israeli Government prepares its public for a peace agreement?’ … [Erekat also said that] ‘This type of incitement is part of Israel’s larger policy against a Palestinian state, which also includes its illegal settlements activities, forced removals and evictions, home demolitions, water theft and separating occupied Jerusalem of its Palestinian residents. They all have the same destructive goal. We call on the international community to condemn incitement to genocide by public figures in Israel’.”