The spiritual leader of the Shas ultra-Orthodox party, a key faction in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition, said in a sermon that the Iranian nuclear threat could result in death and destruction for the Jewish state, and appealed to God to thwart the Islamic regime’s plans.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef made the remarks in a sermon on Sunday, days after he was briefed on the Iranian threat by Netanyahu’s National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror.
“Heaven forbid, they [the Iranians] could bring upon us death and destruction. May God thwart their plans,” the rabbi said.
Amidror was dispatched by Netanyahu to visit Yosef in order to win over the 92-year-old rabbi’s support — and thus the votes of Shas ministers in the government — for a possible Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear sites, the Kikar Shabbat Hebrew news site reported.
The report quoted Yosef as saying in his sermon, “We beg of Him [God] not to allow those evil people’s plot [to come to fruition]… to thwart their plan and ruin their thoughts, and do to them as they plan to do to us.
He reportedly likened the Iranian regime to Haman — the royal adviser in ancient Persia who, in the Old Testament Book of Esther, died at the gallows after planning to slaughter the Jews of Persia. Yosef prayed that God bring light unto the Jewish people.
Yosef called upon Jews to say slichot — prayers traditionally recited in the month leading up to Yom Kippur, the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar.
Amidror was accompanied to Yosef’s home by Interior Minister and Shas political head Eli Yishai, a senior member of cabinet who has been said, in some reports, to oppose an Israeli strike on Iran.
Iran claims its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Israel believes that the program is military in nature and Netanyahu reportedly fears that Iran will soon cross a threshold after which it will be nearly impossible to stop the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons.