Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef
Leader of Lithuanian ultra-Orthodoxy, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, and spiritual leader of the Shas Sephardi ultra-Orthodox movement, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Photo by Archive
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The newspaper of the Lithuanian stream of ultra-Orthodoxy in Israel disassociated itself from the nationalism of the settlement movement in an editorial over the weekend, against the backdrop of the start of direct negotiations with the Palestinians and the attacks on settlers last week in the West Bank. The editorial in Yated Ne'eman, written at the initiative of the leader of Lithuanian ultra-Orthodoxy, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, is seen as a veiled reference to the spiritual leader of the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox movement, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

In a sermon about a week ago, Rabbi Yosef express a death wish for Palestinians, particularly Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The Yated Ne'eman editorial stated that "marginal figures" in the ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, community had been swept up in what the paper called "extreme nationalism." The paper disassociated itself from acts and statements that might be construed as "goading the nations," in the words of the editorial, a reference to the international community.

The appearance of the editorial followed the start of the Arab-Israeli summit in Washington and the fatal attack on settlers near Hebron, which the article referred to in the context of the growing involvement of Haredim in demonstrations and events the editorial said reflected "signs of clear nationalism."

The editorial continued: "It is not acceptable that due to marginal figures who are swept up in extreme nationalism, the impression could be created that the entire Haredi public is a party to goading the nations, inasmuch as every act involving goading the nations of the world, both vis-a-vis the American administration and Arab elements, is utterly contrary to the teachings of our holy Torah as received through our sages."

A source in the Degel Hatorah political faction of the United Torah Judaism party said the editorial was initiated by Rabbi Elyashiv and approved by him before it was published. The source said Rabbi Yosef's remarks were the primary reason for the article, even though he was not explicitly mentioned in the piece, and that the condemnation of Yosef's remarks by the U.S. administration buttressed Rabbi Elyashiv's position that the comments constituted "goading the nations."

The editorial, which opened with a condemnation of last week's shooting attack near Hebron, said: "There is only one practical matter at hand at this time: caution over any involvement whatsoever, certainly over any act that could cause tension with the American administration and the nations of the world. As has been written in the past, Haredi Jews should be especially cautious of this inasmuch as [these] acts are contrary to the outlook of the Torah."