A former Israeli professor, once dubbed “the most hated man in Israel”, drew the wrath of a senior Sephardic haredi rabbi recently, after he criticized the Jewish holiday of Passover and slammed the tradition of eating unleavened bread (matzah) during the week-long festival.
Amir Hetsroni, a former lecturer at Ariel University in Samaria, was accused of racism in 2015 after he slammed Sephardic Jews for Binyamin Netanyahu’s electoral victory that year. Hetsroni has been a frequent critic of Israel, calling the Jewish state “the North Korea of the Middle East”, and in 2015 announced he was emigrating from the country.
Recently, Hetsroni denounced the tradition of consuming unleavened bread (matzah) during the Passover holiday, saying that he makes sure to be out of the country during the holiday each year.
“I can’t bear to see in Israel during Passover,” said Hetsroni, “because I see Jews eating matzah.”
According to Kikar Hashabbat, Rabbi Meir Mazuz, dean of the Kisse Rahamim Yeshiva and the spiritual leader of the Yahad party, castigated Hetsroni over the anti-matzah rant.
During a lecture at the Kisse Rahamim Yeshiva, Rabbi Mazuz recalled his shock when he first heard Hetsroni’s comments.
“So what? Does this [the fact that people eat matzah] harm your health? What does it matter to you? Eat what you want. But he sees Jews eating matzahs and goes crazy.”
“On the spot I calculated the numerical value of his name, Hetsroni, and told my driver… ‘Hetsroni has the same numerical value of ‘Satan’ [HaSatan] – this is the embodiment of the Satan, and that’s why he can’t be here during Passover, so he needs to leave.”
Hetsroni responded to Rabbi Mazuz’s statement by referencing the rabbi’s ethnicity, saying that the Sephardic rabbi, born in Tunisia, should show more gratitude to Ashkenazi Jews for the establishment of the State of Israel.
“Rabbi Mazuz’s father was murdered by Arabs in Tunisia,” Hetsroni said, according to Israel Hayom.
“If the rabbi himself had stayed [in Tunisia], he probably would have shared the same fate, so he ought to thank Ashkenazi Jews like me for bringing him to Israel.”