Rescind Yitzhak Yosef's position as Chief Rabbi for un-Jewish, racist remarks

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The Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, used the term kushi, a Hebrew racial slur against black people, and called black people "monkeys" (see Times of Israel article).

As a Jewish American who cares about equality, tolerance, and social justice as well as my Judaism, I find the Chief Rabbi's statements to be horribly offensive, abhorrent, and unacceptable. Such statements would, made by anyone, be utterly unacceptable for the bigotry, prejudice, and ignorance that they demonstrate towards members of the black community. However, coming from someone who is Jewish and, moreover, in a place of leadership within the Jewish community is all the more insulting and offensive for going completely against the fundamental principles of Judaism, bringing shame and embarrassment to the Jewish community, and for harming crucial partnerships between the Jewish community and black communities in fighting intolerance.

As Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef should know, the principle "that which is hateful to you, do not do unto another" is core to Judaism, as is the belief that all people are God's children, are created in God's image, and are deserving of being treated with kindness, dignity, and respect. This statement (and prior statements that are denigrating to women and to non-Jews) fly in the face of the core values of Judaism. In making such statements, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef commits a Khillul HaShem, a desecration of the divine name, by -- as a representative of Judaism -- acting in such a horrible way that it makes the God whose behavior we are supposed to model look bad.

While I am heartened that the Anti Defamation League has condemned this behavior as have other Jewish leaders, this is not enough. Such statements should be utterly disqualifying for holding the position of Chief Rabbi. I call on the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to rescind Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef from the position of Chief Rabbi. Failing that, I call on the Ministry of Religious Services and the Government of Israel to remove Yitzhak Yosef from this office.



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