Said leaders were especially irked by a recent statement made by Shas' spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who said that "the Goyim's (non-Jews) sole reason for existing is to serve Jews."
Both Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Director Abraham Foxman and David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), issued statements denouncing the rabbi's words, and both were critical of the fact that no Israeli leader did the same.
Foxman expressed "great disappointment" in the lack of censure by Israeli politicians, saying that while Israel had every right to decide who will become its citizens; it was disconcerting that politics led to discerning between Jews and non-Jews.
"It is disturbing to see any religious leader, and particularly Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, use their podium to preach such hateful and divisive ideas," Foxman said.
Such remarks, compounded by the apparent recent atmosphere in Israeli society, only "contribute to an atmosphere of hatred and a global trend of intolerance." The ADL chief further warned that this may have a detrimental effect on Israel's relations with American Jewry.
Israelis seem to judge everything to a political prism, which hinders criticism, he said, wondering aloud about the lack of political criticism against the rabbi.
David Harris also found in difficult to tolerate the rabbi's remarks, calling the sentiment expressed in his sermon "despicable" and "abhorrent."
In an AJC statement, Harris said his organization "deplores Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s remarks about non-Jews, delivered in a weekend sermon.
"Rabbi Yosef’s remarks – suggesting outrageously that Jewish scripture asserts non-Jews exist to serve Jews – are abhorrent and an offense to human dignity and human equality.
"Judaism first taught the world that all individuals are created in the divine image, which helped form the basis of our moral code. A rabbi should be the first, not the last, to reflect that bedrock teaching of our tradition."
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