Welcome To The Dark Side...

or, The Jazza Festival, A New Hope, And The Rabbi And The Gentiles

The following article first appeared on the Jazz page of this site and was duplicated on the Jewish Music page, on 28th October, 2010.


Just as London's 2010 Jazza Festival brought hope for a peaceful and just future, and also when just days earlier an unprecedented uncensored no holds barred interview with Gilad Atzmon and Robert Wyatt in Haaretz, as a symbol of true free speech, gave hope that not only had the tide changed but maybe, just maybe there might be the beginnings of a real sea change with regard to the situation pertaining to Israel and Palestine, along come the pronouncements of a prominent Sephardi Rabbi and former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rav Ovadia Yosev, as part of a sermon, reported in the Jerusalem Post of 18th October and crush any such optimism with an insight into what is truly one of the darkest kinds of mentality imaginable... While I generally endeavour to keep politics off this site, the truly horrifying statements by the good Rav cannot be ignored. And must not!

What Rav Yosef was quoted as saying in his sermon essentially comes down to this. The Gentiles only live, indeed, were only created, to serve the Jews. The Gentiles' sole purpose in life is to serve and toil for Jews, they will plough and reap and the Jews will sit like a master and eat. Indeed, in other words, Jews are the master race.

Does this kind of talk ring any bells? It certainly should. Great, big alarm bells. Third Reich come to mind? It should. That's certainly where we heard this kind of outrageous racist nonsense before, only in reverse, we were the "untermentshn" and the Germans the master race.

Welcome to the dark side, Rav Yosef. Welcome to the dark side, Israel? Now in other circumstances one might be tempted to assign those statements as the demented ramblings of a senile ninety year-old man. But the good rav is far from senile, and he is moreover a highly influential figure in Israel.

Remember the old adage about those who adopt the methods of the enemy, becoming the enemy? Goodness knows Israel has slipped down that slippery slope often enough already. (The Wall and Gaza reek of concentration camp.) Is Israel now sliding into also adopting the language and ideology of the enemy?

As deeply horrifying and deeply offensive as Rav Yosef's statements must be to anyone with a shred of decency, the implications of this kind of thinking and this kind of language are even more disturbing.

In the run-up to the Jazza Festival 2010, British prog rock legend and much-loved national treasure Robert Wyatt stated, 'For the musicians who support the long suffering people of Palestine, silence is simply not an option.'

Tragically, Rav Yosef's little sermon seems to remind us that in the face of such disturbing and disturbed ideology, the great Robert Wyatt's statement might be more appropriately paraphrased as, ' For any human being who opposes racism of any kind and neo-fascist or neo-nazi ideology of any kind, silence is simply not an option and never has been.'

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