Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of Israel’s Shas Party, has called US President Barack Obama “a slave” who seeks to rule the world and control Tel Aviv’s affairs.
“American insidiousness tells us to build here and not to build there as though we were slaves working for them,” he said. “We live in a time when slaves are governing us and are trying to control us.”
The racist remarks were made during Yosef’s weekly sermon on Saturday during which he protested the Obama administration’s policy to exert pressure on Tel Aviv over its settlement expansion.
“We are not employees of the Americans… and Israel does not work for the United States,” he shouted.
Barack Obama, the first African-American US president, has come under increasingly pressure from Israel over his strategy for peace in the Middle East.
In Israel, President Obama is accused of pressuring Tel Aviv to please the Arab states and is criticized for personal dislike for hawkish Netanyahu.
In other parts of his provocative remarks, the senior rabbi attacked Arabs.
“And where is our temple?! The situation there is a cause for grief! There is nothing there but evil Arabs who are occupying our lands… and I hope that the messiah will appear soon to destroy them,” he was quoted by the Arab language daily al-Miesri al-Yaum (Egypt Today) as saying.
The remarks came amid a diplomatic conflict between the US and Israel over settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem (al-Quds).
Washington calls for a complete freeze in Israel’s construction activities; however, Tel Aviv insists it would continue its program to meet the demands caused by “natural growth” of Jewish communities.
On Monday, a group of right-wing supporters gathered in an anti-US rally in Jerusalem. The rallies were supported by Knesset members from ruling Likud party.