Hundreds object to UK visit of rabbi who believes autism is a punishment for past sins


Hundreds of people have signed a petition condemning the visit of a controversial rabbi to Britain.

Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi has said that he believes autism and Down's Syndrome are the consequences of sins committed in a previous life.

Earlier this year he sparked anger by claiming that only one million "halachic" Jews perished at the hands of the Nazis. According to the New York-based rabbi, eighty per cent of those killed by the Nazis were not of the faith under Jewish law.

The Israeli-born rabbi has also previously stated that Ashkenazi Jews were partially responsible for the Holocaust because of inter-marriage and the secular lifestyles they led.

Nearly 500 people have now backed a petition on campaigning website, protesting at the forthcoming visit because of the rabbi’s “highly offensive, bigoted and hateful views”.

Daniel Jonas, who started the petition, wrote: “The signatories of this petition condemn his views and, whether Jewish or non-Jewish, stand in solidarity with the Jewish community in its efforts to distance itself from extremism and condemn racism, ignorant bigotry and intolerance in whatever form it presents itself.”

According to Rabbi Mizrachi's website, he had been due to visit the UK from September 16-19. However, the reference to the visit was removed from the site today, following the launch of the petition.

Rabbi Mizrachi told the JC that he was now not sure if he was coming to the UK because: "I don't have a date yet".

He added he was "surprised" at the opposition, questioning why people should object to the visit which was, "at a private invitation of one person to speak in his house".

Rabbi Mizrachi, who has over 6,000 YouTube subscribers and more than 18,400 Facebook followers, claims to have brought more than 50,000 Jews back to Torah observance.

He links the spread of cancer and other diseases to immorality and lack of modesty.

In one of his posts, the outspoken preacher outlined exactly how women must dress at all times – even in their own homes.

After the devastating earthquake in Nepal last year, he posted a before and after image with the caption "all the idol worshiping places in Nepal are now destroyed”.

This is not the rabbi’s first visit to the UK. In 2014 he spoke at several Sephardi synagogues in London, as well as to pupils from two Jewish secondary schools.

In an interview at the time, the rabbi said that his views on sin and reincarnation came from the Torah and Kabbalah.

“Suffering comes as a result of something we did in our past,” he said.

“The fact that we need to be reincarnated means we failed our mission in our last life. If we’d succeeded, we would go to heaven.”

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