An ultra-Orthodox rabbi in Israel is concerned that gays are responsible for bringing the bird flu to his country.

David Batzri, the rabid rabbi?Rabbi David Batzri, head of the Magen David Yeshiva in Jerusalem, seems worried about not only the plight of chickens affecting the food chain, but also the specter of further plagues to be visited upon the land if those in power ignore his edicts.

Batzri thinks God has a system for such maladies, first its animals and then it’s people. And the people plague may be coming soon.

“The bible says that God punishes depravity first through plagues against animals and then in people,” said the rabbi.

Is this consistent with the pattern of Passover plagues visited upon Egypt when Pharaoh didn’t let the Israelites go?

The rabbi seems to think so, but he didn’t comment about how an earlier swine flu epidemic might have fit in.

Maybe that’s because as an Orthodox rabbi he keeps kosher and isn’t particularly worried about the plight of pigs.

But with Passover coming up Batzri may be concerned there won’t be enough untainted chicken soup to go around, and what’s matzo balls without a little chicken soup?

Seriously though, Rabbi Batzri, following in the footsteps of another fundamentalist Pat Robertson of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), consistently sees God punishing people that disagree with him. Specifically, those that oppose his religious vision for Israel, which he insists, must not include same sex marriage.

Batzri lambasted Israeli politicians that support gay marriage for “strengthening and encouraging homosexuality,” that he described as “not a disease or a deviation, but a straight-out abomination” reports 365 gay.com.

Much in the same manner Batzri invokes the Almighty, Robertson claimed that God smote Prime Minister Aerial Sharon with a stroke because he engineered the pullout from Gaza.

Robertson, like the rabbi, quoted the bible to support his religious rant, though after some bad press the preacher recanted his remarks.

Batzri also has had harsh things to say about Arabs and is a segregationist.

“The Arabs are donkeys and beasts. They want to take our girls. They are endowed with true filthiness. There is pure and there is impure and they are impure” he said. Adding, “It is forbidden to blend darkness and light. The nation of Israel is pure and the Arabs are a nation of donkeys. They are an evil disaster, an evil devil, and a nasty affliction.”

What would the rabbi think of Moses’ wife Zipporah, couldn’t she be considered Arab?

Statements like these have gotten the rabbi into trouble.

This week the state prosecutor ordered police in Israel to open a criminal investigation of the so-called “sage” whose religious edicts apparently fit within the legal description of “racist incitement” rather than the realm of biblical words of wisdom reports Haaretz.

Meanwhile Good as you.org pondered the link between the Almighty and “animal ailments.” What about “Mad Cow disease”? The Web site even suggested that there might somehow be a “phonetic link between rabbis and rabies,” well at least maybe this rabbi and his rabid racist remarks.

Which brings up an interesting conundrum, should Rabbi Batzri be quarantined?

The Israeli authorities are investigating.

In a strange twist a controversial rabbi known for his music and scandal, lives on through pop bands in New York City that have drawn an ultra-Orthodox Jewish cult-following

The Moshav Band and Soulfarm band members grew up within communities founded by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach in Israel in the late 70’s. Now they play in Manhattan clubs to head-banging fans often with covered heads reports the New York Times.

Carlebach, an inspiration for the bands, was a pop rabbi with a cult following of his own. His music drew upon traditional Chasidic melodies and themes.

The rabbi died in 1994, but left behind mixed legacies of music and scandal.

Many considered him a musical genius, but he also allegedly had a penchant for sexually harassing women during his long career. Some of those women later spoke out.

Carlebach was quite controversial amongst his Lubavitch brethren for his touchy-feely approach. Such contact between men and women is strictly proscribed among ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups.

And it seems Carlebach did much more than simply hug many of the ladies he met.

But the rabbi’s musical legacy has endured long after his death. Now the NY bands have created a new form of pop fusion music composed of a little bit Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers and Carlebach.

Carlebach would probably be pleased. The constantly touring rabbi wanted to make Chasidic music and thought more accessible. One promoter observed that he “revolutionized Jewish music.”

For the Orthodox Jewish young people that have become the fans of his musical progeny the music is perhaps a “gentle form of rebellion.” But because of its Chasidic themes, attending clubs that stage these bands is apparently permissible.

The net effect is that otherwise largely cloistered ultra-Orthodox youth have found a vehicle to break out of their strictly controlled and insular communities.

Again, Carlebach would probably have liked that. And it is something of a celebration of the positive legacy he left behind.

As for the bands, one member observed that the Chasidic/Carlebach influence apparent in their performances has “gotten us a lot of work.”

Guess what fanatics from Islam and some Jewish extremists have in common? They both hate Israel.

A fringe group of ultra-Orthodox Chasidic Jews called the “Neturei Karta” or “the Guardians of the City” consider the Jewish state an “abomination,” reports the Guardian of London.

Historically, some ultra-Orthodox Jews initially opposed the establishment of Israel on the grounds that it essentially undercut or pre-empted the “messianic” redemption they expected. Their position was to wait for the messiah, rather than be Zionists and work through the UN.

The Islamic Wahibi sect of Saudi Arabia would likely agree with such radical Jewish thinking. They too consider Israel an “abomination.” And support for violent radicals amongst Saudi Wahibists, unlike the “Neturei Karta,” appears to go all the way to the top, reports the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC).

So is there any chance that these different groups of religious radicals might sit down and discuss their mutual hatred? Might this be the basis to begin a dialog? After all according to their respective religious traditions aren’t they both descendents of Abraham?

Forget about it.

Saudi Wahibists often describe the “demonic nature of Jews,” like a religious doctrine, reports the DLC.

Eric Hoffer, the author of the seminal book “The True Believer,” points out that there is little difference between the “true believers” or fanatics from one group, as opposed to another. He wrote about their common characteristics, motivation and dynamics.

Ironically, it might be observed metaphorically, that they often seem to share the same “demonic nature.”

In what can easily be seen as a summary of the story of Osama bin Laden Hoffer once said, “Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.”