‘The Evil that Men Do Is Remembered After Their Deaths, But the Good Is Often Buried with Them.’ – Shakespeare
It is amazing how much Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (ZTL) has been slandered or obviously misrepresented after he died at the age of 93 in Jerusalem a few days ago. It is symbolic nowadays of the demeaning libel of Judaism by others—not just Zionism— or of the media misrepresentations due either to partisanship or ignorance among many who know they will not be caught or corrected.
But it is also amazing how many Jews, particularly outside Israel, try to use Ovadia Yosef in their suicidal naïveté.
Let me briefly explain.
Born in Baghdad in 1920 (how long ago and what a distant world that was!), Rabbi Yosef was recognized as a genius from an early age. He was a great teacher and jurisprudent. But he was far more than that.
I will summarize his achievements in five points.
First, Yosef gave peace a chance. At a certain point he was really willing to take a dovish stance politically. But then when it was clear that the Palestinian Arabs didn’t want peace, like the majority of others in Israel—including Sephardic Jews like me and many of my friends–he realized it wasn’t going to work.
This is the most interesting point and concluded by many Israelis–though the Western media keep it a big secret.
In 2003 Rabbi Yousf wrote:
“I want to clarify my position with regard to Yesha [the West Bank settlements). Not once have I thought that the Halachic [Jewish religious law] ruling which I issued at the time regarding “territories in exchange for peace” is not valid and does not apply to the current situation. I had intended only a true peace, one in which Jerusalem and it surrounding neighborhoods would rest secure, in peace and harmony. But now we see that on the contrary handing over territory from our holy land endangers lives. We never intended such a peace. Therefore the Oslo agreement is null and void. For I am for peace and they are for war [Quote from Psalm 120] and we have no one to rely on but on our Father in Heaven….
With much love, and one who seeks you well being with all my heart and soul.
That’s the obvious experience that changed millions of Israelis’ minds, making them sure that peace isn’t going to happen. That handing over territory will not bring peace, that Arab states will not accept Israel (or really Iran or Turkey). It is not valid and does not apply to the current situation. Or at least it can and will be reversed by Islamists.