The Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel called black people “monkeys” during his weekly sermon on Saturday evening.
Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef was addressing Jewish legal aspects of the blessing on seeing fruit trees blossoming, and whether one should bless one tree or at least two.
In that context, he mentioned a blessing uttered upon seeing an “unusual creature,” citing the example of encountering a black person who has two white parents on the street in America.
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According to Ynet, Yosef referred to black people by the derogatory Hebrew word “kushi,” and then going on to term a black person a “monkey.”
His office told Ynet that the comparison was a quote from the Talmud.
This was not Yosef’s first time causing controversy in his sermons. Last May, he appeared to suggest that secular women behave like animals because they dress immodestly.
The Anti-Defamation League tweeted a condemnation of the remarks Tuesday night, "Racially charged comment made by Israeli Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, comparing people of color to "monkeys", is utterly unacceptable."
The comments came days before Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a speech to the Negev Conference in Dimona Tuesday that migrants coming into Israel are a bigger threat to the country than terrorism. “How could we have guaranteed a Jewish-democratic state with 50,000 and after that 100,000, and it would have reached 1.5 million [illegal immigrants]?” said Netanyahu. We would have had to close down the country, but we didn’t, he added.