Hurricane Katrina is a punishment meted out by God as a result of U.S. President George W. Bush’s support for the Gaza and northern West Bank disengagement, Shas spiritual leader and former Chief Sephardic Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said Tuesday.
Notably, the rabbi chose to openly declare what many ultra-Orthodox believers have said for a while now, namely that recent naturally disasters in the U.S. are a direct result of American support for the pullout.
In his weekly sermon, the rabbi said: “There was a tsunami and there are terrible natural disasters, because there isn’t enough Torah study… black people reside there (in New Orleans). Blacks will study the Torah? (God said) let’s bring a tsunami and drown them.”
“Hundreds of thousands remained homeless. Tens of thousands have been killed. All of this because they have no God,” said the rabbi, who already found himself in hot water in the past following controversial remarks of one kind or another.
Yet Rabbi Ovadia was not done there, and proceeded to explain in detail why Americans deserved the Hurricane.
“Bush was behind the (expulsion of) Gush Katif,” he said. “He encouraged Sharon to expel Gush Katif…we had 15,000 people expelled here, and there 150,000 (were expelled). It was God’s retribution ..God does not short-change anyone.”
“He (Bush) perpetrated the expulsion. Now everyone is mad at him…this is his punishment for what he did to Gush Katif, and everyone else who did as he told them, their time will come, too,” the rabbi said.
Ovadia concluded: “Where can evil escape to from God? Its time will come and it will be slapped on the head.”
Knesset Member Eliezer Cohen (National Union) dismissed Ovadia’s comments in a talk with Ynet.
“I know meteorology well enough not to believe such rubbish,” he said.
Meanwhile, Knesset Member Ronny Brison said: “What, God is cross-eyed? He metes out punishments at the wrong place? We’re sick and tired of Rabbi Ovadia’s primitive worldview. He already did his part, he can remove himself from public life.”
Ilan Marciano contributed to the story