Ovadia Yosef is a loon. He is the Pat Robertson of Israel. I can imagine much of the same stuff coming from Robertson’s mouth. No justification for what he says or the truly miserable experience of Shas, but take it with a grain of salt. He is part of the religious lunatic fringe, although through political wrangling and circumstance he holds more power than he should.
I said in the Pit thread on Mahathir that I thought, as a Jew, that the call to the Muslim world to stop violent actions against the Jewish world and to instead battle them intellectually was a very valuable thing. I think it outweighs all of the anti-Jewish diatribe. I compared it to the US push towrads math and science in the 1950s that was spurred by anti-Communism, manifested in the space race. I quoted Voltaire to show that these kind of opinions – that the Jew is low and dirty but worthy of life – are not new. In fact, these exact opinions led to the relative flourishing of Jewish life during the European enlightenment. Jews only run into problems when their adversaries are out for blood and will not negotiate (or negotiate in bad faith). Non violent competition – intellectual, cultural, and economic – should be welcomed by the Western world, regardless of the motivations. It will only lead to increased education, which may one day lead to a sort of Muslim Enlightenment to sweep away all of the old fixations on Western and Jewish dominance.
The Western World should pick our battles. Of course we should criticize his anti-Semitism, but his proposals for increasing education will only serve to decrease anti-Semitism in the long run anyway. Let’s not be too harsh on the guy.
Boykin is a different situation entirely. Much of the US mission in the Middle East nowadays is building trust, cooperating with the locals, pacifying a population, and rebuilding moderacy. IMHO it is a pretty bad move to put someone with obviously negatively biased views of the people in charge of the reason. No issues with the scale of response, though: we are talking about one of many generals versus the prime minister of a country.