From Khalid Amayreh in occupied East Jerusalem
A major Jewish religious figure in Israel has likened non-Jews to donkeys and beasts of burden, saying the main reason for their very existence is to serve Jews.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual mentor of the religious fundamentalist party, Shas, which represents Middle Eastern Jews, reportedly said during a Sabbath homily earlier this week that “the sole purpose of non-Jews is to serve Jews.”
Yosef is considered a major religious leader in Israel who enjoys the allegiance of hundreds of thousands of followers.
Shas is a chief coalition partner in the current Israeli government,
Yosef, also a former Chief Rabbi of Israel, was quoted by the right-wing newspaper, the Jerusalem Post, as saying that the basic function of a goy, a derogatory word for a gentile, was to serve Jews.
“Non-Jews were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world-only to serve the People of Israel,”
Yosef said in his weekly Saturday night sermon which was devoted to laws regarding actions non-Jews are permitted to perform on the Sabbath.
Yosef also reportedly said that the lives of non-Jews in Israel are preserved by God in order to prevent losses to Jews.
Yosef, widely considered a prominent Torah sage and authority on the interpretation of Talmud, a basic Jewish scripture, held a comparison between animals of burden and non-Jews.
“In Israel, death has no dominion over them…With gentiles, it will be like any person-They need to die, but God will give them longevity. Why? Imagine that one’s donkey would die, they’d lose their money.
“This is his servant…That’s why he gets a long life, to work well for this Jew.”
Yosef further elucidated his ideas about the servitude of gentiles to Jews, asking
“why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap; and we will sit like an effendi and eat.”
“That is why gentiles were created.”
The concept of gentiles being infra-human beings or quasi-animals is well-established in Orthodox Judaism.
For example, rabbis affiliated with the Chabad movement, a supremacist but influential Jewish sect, teach openly that at the spiritual level, non-Jews have the status of animals.
Abraham Kook, the religious mentor of the settler movement, was quoted as saying that the difference between a Jew and a gentile was greater and deeper than the difference between humans and animals.
“The difference between a Jewish soul and souls of non-Jews — all of them in all different levels — is greater and deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle.”
Some of Kook’s manifestly racist ideas are taught in the Talmudic college, Merkaz H’arav, in Jerusalem. The college is named after Kook.
In his book, Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years, the late Israeli writer and intellectual Israel Shahak argued that whenever Orthodox rabbis use the word “human,” they normally didn’t refer to all humans, but only to Jews, since non-Jews are not considered humans according to Halacha of Jewish law.
A few years ago, a member of the Israeli Knesset, castigated Israeli soldiers for “treating human beings as if they were Arabs.” The Knesset member, Aryeh Eldad, was commenting on the evacuation by the Israeli army of a settler outpost in the West Bank.
Faced with the negative effect of certain Biblical and Talmudic teachings on inter-religious relations, some Christian leaders in Europe have called on the Jewish religious establishment to reform the traditional Halacha perceptions of non-Jews.
However, while the Reform and Conservative sects of Judaism, have related positively to such calls, most Orthodox Jews have totally rejected the calls, arguing that the Bible is God’s word which can’t be altered under any circumstances.
The Bible says that non-Jews living under Jewish rule must serve as “water carriers and wood hewers” for the master race.
In Joshua (9:27), we read ” That day, Joshua made the Gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the community and for the altar of the Lord at the Place the Lord would choose. And that is what they are to this days.”
Elsewhere in the Bible, Israelites are strongly urged to treat “strangers living in your midst” humanely “because you yourselves were strangers in Egypt.”