• ISRAEL \ Jul 30, 2001
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    Rabbi Ovadia Yossef: 'The Messiah will speed Arabs to hell'
Rabbi Ovadia Yossef: 'The Messiah will speed Arabs to hell' JERUSALEM:

The spiritual leader of Israel's ultra-orthodox Shas party, renowned for his racist denunciations of Arabs, on Friday said that they were reproducing like insects and were destined to end up in hell.

"In the old city of Jerusalem they're swarming like ants. They should go to hell - and the Messiah will speed them on their way," Rabbi Ovadia Yossef said in a weekly sermon broadcast on Army radio.

The ageing founder of Shas, which now holds 17 out of the Israeli Parliament's 120 seats and belongs to the coalition government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, earlier this year called Arabs "snakes" and "vipers."

Yossef also denounced Sharon's self-declared "restrain" policy in dealing with the Palestinians saying the Prime Minister should not let fear of international criticism prevent him from striking back hard.

"Who are these nations of the world? The Messiah will come and scorn them, will condemn them and with a single breath will scatter them," he said.

Shas was for a long time considered one of the more moderated parties concerning the peace process, and had favoured making territorial concessions to the Palestinians in exchange for peace.

"Come and See" adds that But the party has drifted rightward and many of its to officials in the government have aligned themselves with hardliners calling for a heavy crackdown on the Palestinians to quell their 10-month uprising.

"Come and See" adds:

A second rabbi in Israel had an interesting statement. The Israeli Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau said in a lecture on Thursday that Israel's much-criticized practice of targeting Palestinian militants for death "has the full backing of Jewish religious law".