August 14, 2000
STATEMENT BY THE UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL COUNCIL
The leadership of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council wishes to express its rejection of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s public statement that the victims of the Holocaust were expiating sins they committed in earlier incarnations when they suffered their cruel fate. We are deeply saddened and dismayed that a Rabbi with the standing of Ovadia Yosef should address the cosmic horror and unparalleled tragedy of the Holocaust in a way that contradicts history, distorts theology, diminishes spirituality and offends justice.
The Rabbi’s comments pour caustic salt on the open wounds of the survivors and of the families of the victims, adding to the suffering of the innocent. His words may give short-lived comfort to those who exploit historical revisionism or seek to soften the image of the murderers’ moral depravity but cannot affect civilization’s verdict on the evil of the Holocaust and its profound lessons for all of humanity.
We also add that Rabbi Yosef’s hateful comments vis-à-vis Arabs serve only as an example of a failure to draw morally responsible lessons from the bitter experience of the Holocaust which dehumanized millions of men, women and children.