Shmuel Eliyahu asserted that due to alleged mistreatment of the Jewish people, God was punishing disaster-hit nations.
After claiming that the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday was “divine justice,” a controversial Israeli rabbi has sparked outrage. Shmuel Eliyahu, who is the chief Rabbi of Safed in the northern part of Israel and is a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council, asserted that God was punishing nations that were impacted by the disaster for their alleged mistreatment of the Jewish people. He was also a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council.
In an opinion piece that was published on Friday in the Olam Katan newspaper, Eliyahu wrote, “God is judging all the nations around us who wanted to invade our land and throw us into the sea.” The devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake on Monday killed at least 28,000 people, affecting as many as 18 million people directly in northern Syria and southern Turkey.
Eliyahu wrote in his column that Syria had “abused its Jewish residents for hundreds of years, invaded Israel three times, shot for years at the farmers who lived at the foot of the Golan Heights, abused captives, and hanged [Israeli spy] Eli Cohen.” He also said that Syria had also “abused its Jewish residents for hundreds of years.”
In addition, he wrote: “He also took aim at Lebanon, which was rocked by the earthquake and is in a crippling financial crisis.” The nation, which was once known as the “Switzerland of the Middle East,” has unquestionably transformed into hell on earth, and such things do not occur by chance.”
He wrote about Turkey, which was the epicenter of the earthquake: We don’t know what God’s plans are for Turkey, which has slandered us in every way imaginable, but if God says he will punish our enemies, we know that everything will be done to improve the world and clean it up.”
Amihai Ben-Eliyahu, a right-wing parliamentarian and Israel’s heritage minister, is the father of Eliyahu. Eliyahu has been charged with inciting racism and has repeatedly sparked controversy for his anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab remarks. After an attack on a Jewish school in Jerusalem in 2008, he called on the government to carry out “state-sanctioned revenge” against Arabs to restore what he called Israel’s deterrence.
In addition, in 2019, he advised teenagers who were suspected of murdering a Palestinian woman in the West Bank not to be afraid of prison because that is where the path to political power begins. This prompted a number of rights organizations to demand that he be disciplined and that criminal charges be brought against him.
Israel is one of the dozens of nations that have sent teams of aid and rescue to Turkey following the devastating earthquake. Ankara expelled Israel’s ambassador in 2011 in response to a UN report on Israel’s 2010 raid on the Mavi Marmara aid ship to Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish citizens.
In 2016, the rift was patched up when both nations exchanged ambassadors and resumed full diplomatic relations. Israel’s President Isaac Herzog paid a visit to Turkey for the first time since 2008 when he met Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Turkish capital of Ankara.