Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, speaking as the representative of the state of Israel, on Wednesday addressed the boycott movement facing the Jewish state while speaking at the World Congress of Religious Leaders held in Kazakhstan.
"Recently we have seen before our eyes how words can kill: as leaders we must express disgust at all types of boycott," Rabbi Yosef said, at the event which was attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
The rabbi spoke with Ban on the sidelines of the Congress, and called on him to actively fight the boycott – his call comes amid reports that the European Union (EU) is preparing sanctions against Israel at the UN along with "settlement" product labeling demands to further the boycott.
"It isn't enough to not cooperate with the phenomenon (of boycotts), one must fight them," said Rabbi Yosef. "Those acting with boycotts are not interested in true peace; the way of boycotting brings the opposite effect."
In his speech, the rabbi explained that in order to reach peace between different nations and faiths, an approach of tolerance is necessary.
He said that Judaism teaches this approach, as symbolized in the three steps backwards during the kaddish prayer for the dead, which are taken in time with the words "He Who makes peace in His high places." In order to reach peace, the rabbi explained one must take three steps back.
Rabbi Yosef thanked the conference's host Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev for holding the event, and concluded with the blessing he referenced: "He Who makes peace in His high places, He will make peace for us and for all Israel, and let us say amen." His prayer was met with vigorous applause.
The rabbi also spoke at the Supreme Council of Religious Leaders, in a meeting that was closed to the press.
The Congress conference was attended by dozens of religious leaders from countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Afghanistan. Several state leaders, such as King Abdullah of Jordan and Albert II, the Prince of Monaco, also took part.