Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of Efrat on Saturday night compared US President Barack Obama to Haman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Mordechai.
Speaking at the Jerusalem Great Synagogue, the American born Riskin said that he could not understand what was going through Obama’s mind.
“The President of the United States is lashing out at Israel just like Haman lashed out at the Jews,” he said. “I’m not making a political statement,” he clarified, “I’m making a Jewish statement.” When a woman in the audience shouted out that Riskin was being disrespectful to the President of the United States, she was booed by the crowd. Riskin said he didn’t need any help from the audience. “I am being disrespectful because the President of the United States was disrespectful to my Prime Minister, to my country, to my future and to the future of the world.”
Just as Mordechai was focused on saving the Jews of Persia from destruction, Riskin noted, so Netanyahu is focused on saving Israel and the world from destruction.
Riskin said more than once throughout his address that he was proud of Netanyahu, and added that he did the right thing in speaking to Congress “even if it angered Obama.”.
Riskin also drew an analogy between the conquest of Babylon by ancient Persia and the armed conflict between Iran and Iraq.
In relation to Iran, Riskin said that the only difference between Iran and ISIS (the Islamic State) was who would be using power to control the world.
Closer to home, Riskin said that one of Israel’s greatest tragedies is that the rabbinate is enmeshed in politics. Alluding to Shas leader Arye Deri, Riskin declared that he didn’t know how someone who went to jail for bribery could be put back into the same place without ever admitting to his guilt or expressing remorse.
Riskin insisted that this was not compatible with Jewish philosophy. “What we’re all about is compassionate righteousness and moral justice,” he said. “We have to have a free voice that is not politically fettered.”