Where are the Moderates?

Response to Chicago Tribune’s “Israeli Rabbi Makes Katrina Comments”

When Ovadia Yosef, the former Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, called Hurricane Katrina “a punishment from God for President Bush’s role in forcing Israelis to leave the Gaza Strip,” there was no mistaken demand made that all Jews worldwide rise up and deny these statements (“Israeli rabbi makes Katrina comments,” Sept. 16). People did not ask, “Where are the moderate Jews?” even though it is a reflexive question asked today whenever something is said or done by people claiming to be Muslims.

There is an understanding that this rabbi does not represent the majority mainstream Jewish community even though he is a religious leader and has made several offensive statements in the past, including calling for the annihilation of Arabs in 2001. Hopefully the next time a Muslim extremist leader makes hateful comments, people will treat the greater Muslim community like they have treated the Jewish community now: realizing that every community has its radicals and that not all members of a community need to step up and disassociate themselves from those fanatics to prove they renounce extremism.