I feel sure that Shas’s newest Knesset Member, Yinon Azoulai, would find it strange to be lumped together with an Iranian brigadier general, but their shared bigotry makes them suitable bed partners. Perhaps that’s what happens when religious zealotry and blind hatred interfere with one’s ability to think.
A UK newspaper reported earlier this week that the head of Iran’s Civil Defence Organization, Brigadier General Gholam Ridha Jalali, had told those attending an agricultural conference in Iran that “Israel and another country in the region have joint teams which work to ensure clouds entering Iranian skies are unable to release rain.” He added that “on top of that, we are facing the issue of cloud and snow theft.”
At first sight, his remarks sound ludicrous, but he was only echoing what former Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had stated back in 2012 when he declared “the enemy (is) destroying the clouds moving towards our country.”
Now we all know that Jews are incredibly clever and control the world, but if we really exercised that amount of power, we would not be facing another year of drought with natural water resources standing at their lowest level in a century, and Israel would not be investing vast sums of money in building two further desalination plants at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars!
But what has all of this to do with Yinon Azoulai MK, whose father is Israel’s Minister of Religions? Earlier this week, Azoulai postulated that Reform and Conservative demands for egalitarian prayer rights at the Western Wall were responsible for the earthquake Israel experienced on Wednesday morning.
As he put it: “Today we heard that there was some kind of earthquake, maybe we should engage in some introspection that this earthquake was because someone here is trying to harm that which is holy to us?”
To the best of my knowledge Azoulai is not a seismologist and Jalali is not a meteorologist, but they both exhibit a level of bigotry that borders on insanity and which many would consider unbefitting of those who claim to be religious.
Jalali wants to destroy Israel, while Azoulai has suggested that Reform and Conservative Jews should spend the money they invest in Israel on building another “Western Wall” in the United States.
At least the head of Iran’s meteorological service was brave enough as to question the veracity of Jalali’s accusations. Perhaps, during this three-week period between the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem on the 17th Tammuz and the destruction of the Temple on the 9th Av, Yinon Azoulai needs to be reminded that our sages said that the 2nd Temple was destroyed because of sinat chinam, gratuitous hatred (Yoma 9b).
Azoulai and those like him should also remember that Jewish tradition provides additional grounds for the destruction of the 2nd Temple. These include an incident where one priest killed another while fighting over the right to work at the altar (Tosephta Yoma 1:12) and Rabbi Yochanan’s statement that “Jerusalem was destroyed only because the judges ruled in accordance with the strict letter of the law, as opposed to ruling beyond the letter of the law” (Baba Metzia 30b).
Many might feel that there are uncomfortable parallels between what happened then and what is happening within Israel’s religious establishment today.