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 he was being disrespectful to the US president, 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, he said, so Netanyahu is focused on saving Israel and the world from destruction.
He 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 drew an analogy between the conquest of Babylonia by ancient Persia and the armed conflict between Iran and Iraq.
In relation to Iran, he said that the only difference between Iran and the Islamic State was who would be using power to control the world.
Closer to home, he 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.”
Riskin was not the only prominent rabbi to criticize Obama over the weekend for his diplomatic policies.
The World Values Network, founded and run by American rabbi and public figure Shmuley Boteach, took out a full page advertisement in The New York Times on Saturday comparing the deal being drawn up with Iran on its nuclear project to the Munich Agreement signed in 1938 by British prime minister Neville Chamberlain with Adolf Hitler, widely seen as an act of appeasement that emboldened the Nazi leader.
The Times ad bore a picture of a pensive-looking Obama with an inset picture of Chamberlain holding aloft a copy of the Munich Agreement that he infamously declared to represent “peace for our time,” just 11 months before Hitler ordered the invasion of Poland marking the beginning of the World War II.
The ad described Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a “terror overlord” and a “Hitler-wannabe,” and said that the deal being discussed with Iran would “enable the world’s foremost sponsor of terror to become a nuclear power.”
It called on Obama to demand that Khamenei personally and publicly repudiate his threats against Israel, that Iran cease support for terrorist groups and for the US president not to approve a deal that “allows the potentially catastrophic one-year-weapons-breakout period, which endangers Israel, the Middle East, America and the world.