New York – The NY Post’s highly inflammatory and negative attack titled “de Blasio praises hateful Rabbi,” published just a few hours after the death of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, was beyond the pale, and an affront to the Rabbi’s memory and to countless Jews who considered him their spiritual mentor.
Furthermore,to attack a mayoral candidate for issuing a brief statement of condolence upon a revered Rabbi’s passing, was petty and mean spirited. Rabbi Yosef’s unparalleled achievements as the long time spiritual leader of world Sephardic Jewry, made such a statement appropriate.
That close to one million Jews attended Rabbi Yosef’s funeral should have warranted some level of respect and sensitivity to the subject by the Post. Naïve? Maybe. But to contrast, even Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, understood the loss of this spiritual giant and expressed his condolences.
It is noteworthy that the NY Times, not always sympathetic to Orthodox Jewish interests, showed respect for the iconic sage, writing, “As a Sephardic Torah scholar and arbiter of Halakha, or Jewish law, he was often described by followers as ‘the greatest of the generation’.”
What makes the Post’s nasty diatribe especially disappointing is that it comes on the heels of last week’s Post editorial criticizing Mayor Bloomberg’s “aggressive nannyism” in regulating an aspect of Jewish ritual circumcision. That enlightened position, which was appropriately acknowledged in Orthodox Jewish circles as a positive contribution to the public debate, might have led some to believe that at long last, the Post was transitioning to a more balanced approach towards issues of concern to religious Jewry. Alas,the Post’s galling attack on Rabbi Yosef reminds us that a leopard cannot change its spots. The Post’s lack of a moral compass leads one to conclude that they are guided only by an insatiable appetite for circulation and titillation.
The NY Post has reached a new low, and that’s really saying something.
Chaskel Bennett is a NYC based activist and community advocate.