A controversial rabbi who claims sick Jewish children are being punished for sins in a former life has been banned from entering Britain, ahead of a speaking tour of London synagogues.
Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi who has 200,000 followers on social media, was to be hosted by Charedi rabbis in north London, including Rabbi Aharon Bassous in Golders Green – who led a boycott of the JW3 culture centre for encouraging “homosexual activities”.
Mizrachi has been criticised by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and others for his views, including his claim that fewer than one million halachic Jews were killed in the Holocaust, Down’s Syndrome and autism are punishments for previous sins and blind children are serving penance for watching pornography in a past life.
Mizrachi, who labels his critics “worse than Hitler”, was due to give three lectures, including one called ‘Defeating the Modern Day Amelek (enemies of Israel)’. Venues include Bassous’s Sephardi synagogue Beth Hamadresh Knesset Yehezkel in Golders Green, a charity whose purpose is “to advance religion in accordance with the orthodox Jewish faith”.
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Heichal Leah Synagogue in Hendon, which was due to host Mizrachi on Saturday, told Jewish News his schedule had changed and “will not be speaking at the venue after all”. Beit Hamedresh Knesset Yehezkel and Seuda Shlishit Knesset Yehezkel were uncontactable.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “When the purpose of someone’s visit to this country is to spread hatred, we can and will stop them entering Britain. This Government upholds free speech but we will not let it be used to excuse detestable views that directly contravene our values. We take the threat from extremism seriously and we will challenge it wherever we see it.”
David Toube, director of policy at Qulliam, said: “Mizrachi was prevented from boarding his plane to the UK. I applaud the Home Office’s decision and am proud the mainstream Jewish community has been united in its opposition to this man.”
In 2016, hundreds signed a petition calling for the rabbi to be banned from the UK as community members and representatives called him a “hate preacher,” but in 2014 he toured the UK lecturing schoolchildren and has been seeking a return.
An online petition described Mizrachi’s views as “cultish, divisive and contemptible,” with the former Three Faiths Forum (3FF) director Stephen Shashoua writing that “hate should be given no oxygen” and Jewish sociologist and author Keith Kahn-Harris saying “there is a violence to his views”.
In videos posted online, Mizrachi tells Jewish children: “God only want him [the disabled child] here 40 years to suffer. Why? Measure-for-measure. You spoke bad about people in a previous life, now you’re going to feel what it is to live 40 years without being able to say a word.”
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said: “We condemn all forms of hate speech, regardless of the source. Bigotry is not welcome in our community and that applies to this individual.”
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