“Destroy them, God, obliterate them from the face of the earth.”

Pop quiz: What religio-political leader said the following, about which nation?

Do good, God, wipe them out, kill them…. Destroy them God, obliterate them from the face of the earth.

If you said Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, head of Israel’s Shas Party and one of the country’s ultra-Orthodox kingmakers, and further guessed that he was talking about Iran—please take a seat at the head of the class….

…Yosef also mentioned Hezbollah (“when we say that our enemies, foes and anyone who desires to do evil to us should be cut off, we should have in mind Hezbollah and Iran”), but even having said that, I’m finding it hard to see a real difference between these statements, and statements so like them that emanate from Iran.

In both cases, men who consider themselves, and are considered by legions of followers, to be exemplars of their faith communities, leaders with direct insight into the heights and depths of their religions’ teachings and traditions, are calling on the Almighty to do what they genuinely believe the Almighty already wants to do: Destroy the other guy.

When such things are said in Persian, Jews around the world rightly react with some alarm.

To read the rest, please click here to go to Open Zion/The Daily Beast — but don’t click too hard! You want to read it, not obliterate it.


  1. No Cute Pseduonym

     /  August 31, 2012

    And lo, poe’s law comes to Mark Twain’s war prayer.

    Does the moral of Twain’s piece suggest that Yosef should get brownie points for at least being honest about what ‘God is on our side’ means in military rhetoric? I don’t honestly know.

  2. DAparat

     /  September 5, 2012

    The difference is that it if Iran were to stop threatening Israel, the Rabbi would stop threatening Iran. Iran chose to make itself Israel’s enemy.

    • I see what you’re saying, but it’s a little like saying “If the Hatfields stopped hating the McCoys, the McCoys would stop hating the Hatfields,” only with God thrown in for good measure.

      It is a tenent of extremism that The Other can never, actually, be trustworthy or good, that it is in The Other’s cultural, or indeed biological, DNA to be wicked. Yosef referred back to the Esther story because there’s a belief that every generation has its “Amalek”, the most evil of the Israelites’ enemies in Hebrew Scripture, and it’s said that we’re to fight Amalek unceasingly. Haman, from the Esther story, was that generation’s Amalek, Nazi Germany/Hitler was the mid-20th century Amalek, and Iran/Ahmadinejad/et al are today’s Amalek, in this worldview. Amalek doesn’t change, though he may try to trick you into believing he has.

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