TEL AVIV (Realist English). One of the most famous and influential Sephardic rabbis, Meir Mazuz, accused Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid of betraying his people.
“They are traitors to their people, they hate their people. They’re worse than the Nazis — the Nazis love their own people; but [the ministers] hate their people.” he declared on the eve of Jerusalem Day.
Rabbi Mazuz added that we should thank the Almighty for the liberation of Jerusalem, “even if our state is imperfect and it is led by villains.”
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, speaking at the ceremony of the Day of Remembrance of Ethiopian Jews who died on the way to Israel, said:
“Even in the heat of an argument, we cannot compare our brothers with the most terrible executioner of the Jewish people. We have to watch what we say to our compatriots, because we are brothers.”
Commenting on the rabbi’s statements, Lieberman wrote on Facebook: “Rabbi Mazuz taught us a lesson in hatred. I had no idea that studying basic subjects, working and serving in the army was worse than Nazism. The temple was destroyed because of gratuitous hatred, and Mazuz’s statements are gratuitous hatred.”
Israeli leaders have warned of growing hatred, division and incitement in society, particularly since the formation of the current coalition of disparate parties from left, right and center.
Rabbi Meir Mazuz is one of the most famous and influential interpreters of Halakha among Sephardic Jews. Previously, he was a member of the Council of Sages of the Torah (the highest body of the Shas party), but then left it, publicly supporting Eli Yishai. Subsequently, Mazuz returned to the Israeli ultra-religious political party Shas.
The formation of a coalition government in 2021 left the religious parties Yahadut ha-Torah and Shas out of power for the first time in many years. Since then, they have been criticizing Lieberman and Lapid, accusing them of acting out of hatred for their constituents.
The ministers insist that they have no hostility towards the ultra-Orthodox population, but they seek to put an end to various social benefits that give preference to the ultra-Orthodox over other groups of citizens.