There will be an annual conference of Israeli executives in Tel Aviv tomorrow. The central theme is "leadership in a time of crisis" and, as usual at such venues, speakers will include politicians as well as economists and businessmen.
But Benny Gaon, the chairman of the Israel Management Center (which runs the conference), has also invited a special guest lecturer - the Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who will give a talk on "Wealth and Poverty in Israeli Society."
This column discussed this subject a month ago - how is it possible to ask people who work and serve in the Israel Defense Forces to listen to a lecture on "wealth and poverty" from someone who pushes his followers into wretched poverty?
Ovadia Yosef is Israel's leading creator of poverty. He encourages his followers to have as many children as possible, and he encourages the fathers not to work at all, but rather live at public expense as impoverished yeshiva students - dependent on him. And who supports them?
Those who attend the Israel Management Center's conference do - they work and pay high taxes to maintain these parasites. Perhaps the guest lecturer will offer some insights into business ethics and proper management, citing as examples the jobs he arranges for his various relatives?
One of the readers told me the invitation came from Benny Gaon's battle to acquire the Co-Op marketing chain. In this situation, my reader said, it is worth Gaon's while to ingratiate himself with the great rabbi, since one of Yosef's followers, Labor Minister Shlomo Benizri, is responsible for the Registrar of Cooperative Associations - which means that he is responsible for the Co-Op.
Minister Roni Milo also concurred with what I wrote here on September 20 and says he has since raised the matter in other forums and encountered widespread agreement. Attorney Gideon Rosenblum is another person who found the invitation to Ovadia Yosef completely inappropriate. He sat down and wrote letters to several of the people slated to address the conference, such as Professor Haim Ben-Shahar, Oded Tyrah, Galia Maor, Eli Yunis and Gil Shwed, urging them not to take part.
Lest they forget, Rosenblum reminded his correspondents of some of the guest lecturer's pearls of wisdom. He called former state comptroller Miriam Ben-Porat "a troublemaker of Israel"; Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg did "hell's propaganda"; former minister Ya'akov Ne'eman had "spiritual cancer". The rabbi called down a curse on former attorney general Yosef Harish - "may his house be destroyed"; he said of former minister Shulamit Aloni that "on the day she dies, one should celebrate and feast"; he called David Ben-Gurion "a villainous evil-doer"; he termed our judiciary "unfit to judge Jews" and our doctors are "ignorant beasts."
Ovadia greatly admires women: "To walk between two women is like walking between two jackasses." And he wished opposition leader MK Yossi Sarid a premature death - but Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein found no public interest in this statement and therefore declined to indict him for it.
We, of course, do not advocate the use of similarly vile language, a refined protest would be OK - like, for example, walking out of the room when the great rabbi stands up to speak.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now