Rabbi Yona Metzger, former Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel, has responded for the first time to the investigations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust that led him to step down early from his public office.
"Sadly the media has distorted my character and this has been very hurtful for me." Metzger said in an interview to Israel's Channel 10. He added, "Our media looks for blood and only looks for the negative."
The former chief rabbi claimed that if the famed Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaCohen Kook, the first to hold the title of Chief Rabbi of Israel, was in the post today, he would not have been as adored as he was, due to the treatment he would have received from media.
"Rabbi Kook is cherished today through all echelons of the community, but if there was then the kind of media that we have today, he would not have been adored." Metzger speculated.
Turning to the allegations against him he said: "I received a discount from a hotel that I had no idea about, big deal, I even paid back the difference." However, Rabbi Metzger said he stood no chance of remaining in office. "It didn't help. Until I was hounded out of my job, we weren't left in peace."
Rabbi Metzger also recalled how Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, had once said in an aside to him, "You received a discount and look what they are doing to you."
Rabbi Yona Metzger was replaced as Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi by Rabbi David Lau the son of popular former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau. Meanwhile the position of Sephardic Chief Rabbi was awarded to Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef a son of the leading sephardic halakhic authority Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
In the wake of the new appointments, Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett, along with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, voiced frustration at the election process and pledged to combine the portfolios creating just one Chief Rabbi for all Israelis.