On the heels of an endearing statement of condolences released by Bill de Blasio at the passing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in Israel on Monday, the NEW YORK POST is calling out de Blasio, asking why he, unlike so many others who issued similar condolences, failed to acknowledge the rabbi’s well-documented past history of inflammatory, sometimes racist remarks.
In his statement released Monday, de Blasio said, “Jews around the world lost a leader today in Rabbi Chacham Ovadia Yosef. His wisdom, charity and sensitivity were legendary.”
The POST points out that de Blasio failed to even acknowledge, or at least “qualify,” that Rabbi Yosef had a storied history of making hateful remarks, saying that de Blasio released his statement “without mentioning that even the Anti-Defamation League had repudiated some of the rabbi’s hate-filled statements.”
Citing several of Rabbi Yosef’s more controversial statements, including his 2000 comments stating that the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust were “reincarnations of the souls of sinners” who had been “reincarnated in order to atone” for sins previously committed, THE POST questions why de Blasio didn’t take the same “nuanced” approach to the rabbi’s death others did.
THE POST notes that the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, qualified his statement about Yosef, saying, “Rabbi Ovadia Yosef will long be remembered as one of Judaism’s towering rabbinic figures who has left a lasting legacy for Sephardic Jews in Israel and for Jews all around the world.
Rabbi Yosef was not without controversy and it is no secret that we disagreed with some of his statements in the past, which we considered intemperate and biased.”
And Joe Lhota, says THE POST, did the same thing, adding to his condolences that the rabbi “has made statements over time that were unfortunate.”
A de Blasio spokesman said his remarks weren’t intended to support “outright” what the rabbi stood for.
“Bill,” said Wiley Norvell, “like the US ambassador to Israel, was offering his condolences, not an endorsement of his views.”