An ultra-Orthodox rabbi considered to be a political kingmaker has enraged religious and secular Israelis by saying the Holocaust was God's punishment for sins such as violating the Sabbath and eating pork.
"Not for a long time has any single remark caused such an emotional reaction," said Razi Barkai, host of a radio talk show that was flooded with hundreds of calls Thursday over the remarks of Rabbi Eliezer Schach.Barkai said calls ran about 3-to-2 against the 97-year-old rabbi, who said another disaster may befall Jews for violating traditional religious tenets.
"The last time he brought destruction, it was the Holocaust. Because of the sins, the Almighty may bring another Holocaust upon us, and it may already be tomorrow," Schach told Jewish seminary students this week.
About 6 million Jews died in the Nazi genocide during World War II, and tens of thousands of survivors live in Israel. Five percent of Israel's Jewish residents are ultra-Orthodox, while 70 percent define themselves as secular.