Shas Spiritual Leader Calls Israeli National Anthem 'Stupid'

No one can teach the rabbi, who grew up in Jerusalem, what Zionism is, says party.

Yaakov Cohen / Behadrei Haredim

The spiritual leader of Shas, Rabbi Shlomo Cohen, said Sunday at a party convention in Netivot that Israel’s national anthem, “Hativka,” is a stupid song. The Walla! news portal published a recording of what he said.

Cohen said that he was by the side of the party’s late spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, for 60 years and described meeting him at a conference in 1955 when Yitzhak Nissim was appointed Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel.

“At the end of the ceremony they started to sing, ‘As long as in the heart,’” said Cohen, referring to a line from Hatikva. “What are these crazies? What, they’re crowning a prime minister,” recalled Cohen. “What is this? I didn’t stand. They all stood. So did the rabbi.”

Cohen said that he asked Rabbi Yosef why he stood for the national anthem, and “he said, ‘I told you the truth. I said the Aleinu,’” said Cohen, referring to the traditional Jewish prayer. “A real man. Why did he say Aleinu? He didn’t want this stupid song to influence him,” he explained.

The Shas party commented in response to the video clip, “No one will teach the wise man Shalom Cohen, who grew up all his days in Jerusalem, what Zionism is and what his relationship is to the Land of Israel. It is his right and duty to think that the sources of the Torah in Israel are 10 times more important than a poem composed only in the last decades.”