Israeli Religious Right Blames Gaza for Katrina

Aaron Klein, WND‘s Jerusalem correspondent and frequent puffer of the Israeli far-right, rounds up some religious opinions about Hurricane Katrina. Not many surprises:

“Katrina is a consequence of the destruction of [Gaza’s] Gush Katif [slate of Jewish communities] with America’s urging and encouragement,” Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Lewin, executive director of the Rabbinic Congress for Peace, told WND.

…Rabbi Joseph Garlitzky, head of the international Chabad Lubavitch movement’s Tel Aviv synagogue, recounted for WND a pulpit speech he gave this past Sabbath: “…And here there are many obvious connections between the storm and the Gaza evacuation, which came right on top of each other. No one has permission to take away one inch of the land of Israel from the Jewish people.”

Garlitzky goes on to recount the mystical similarities (the exception being that moving Israelis into Israel proper is wicked, while killing thousands of Americans is just God’s righteousness), such as:

Close to 10,000 Jews were expelled from their homes in the Gaza Strip and parts of northern Samaria. Katrina’s death toll is now expected to reach at least 10,000.

(Further alleged similarities have also appeared in an article for Israel Insider by Israel National Radio host Tamar Yonah. These include “‘Katrina’ sounds very similar to ‘Katif'”)

In fact, both Garlitzky (vars. Yosef Gerlitzky, Yosef Gololutzsky) and Lewin are part of the so-called Rabbinic Congress for Peace, which in Hebrew goes by the name of Pikuach Nefesh, refering to “saving a life”. It is opposed to withdrawal from any land captured by Israel in 1967; in December its deputy chairman, settler rabbi David Drukman, told the UPI that Palestinians living in such areas “should recognize their place”. Lewin, who also works as a journalist, claims there are 1,200 members. Garlitzky, Lewin, and Drukman are all part of the Chabad (“Lubavitcher”) movement, which saw the Asian tsunami as evidence for the coming of the Messiah.

However, the RCP is not just for Chabad members; it also includes Rabbi Ya’acov Yosef, the son of Shas’s spiritual leader and former Shepardic chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Ya’acov and Ovadia have their differences, although a belief in God killing Americans in vengeance for Gaza is not one of them. Ynet News reports:

Hurricane Katrina is a punishment meted out by God as a result of U.S. President George W. Bush’s support for the Gaza and northern West Bank disengagement…Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said Tuesday.

That’s pretty much true to form from Rabbi Ovadia; back in 2000 he claimed that the Holocaust was God’s punishment of Jewish sinners. However, Ovadia also has a second reason for the tragedy:

There was a tsunami and there are terrible natural disasters, because there isn’t enough Torah study…black people reside there (in New Orleans). Blacks will study the Torah? (God said) let’s bring a tsunami and drown them.

Bloghead adds:

As bad as it sounds in English, it sounds even worse in Hebrew, as the word he used for ‘black people’ (‘kushim’) is basically the Hebrew N-word (although, sadly, quite widely used).

I look forward to reading Aaron Klein’s take on that one.

(NB – a number of sites have been following the “Katrina is the wrath of God theme”. Check out The Pagan Prattle for an overview; here for a survey of Christian responses (undertaken by the Universalists); and here for how some Muslims have interpreted it. Get Religion has also covered the subject here).

(A couple of links via Failed Messiah and Jews Sans Frontieres)