This whole debate between Rav Ovadia Yosef and Rav Mordechai Eliyahu about whether Rachel Imenu appeared, and in what form, to soldiers in Gaza must be seen against the backdrop pf the elections. A bit of background: RME and ROY are the leaders of two distinct approaches – halakhic, social, and ideological – within Mizrahi Judaism in
RME, on the other hand, is bears the torch of the Ben Ish Hai and the Baghdadi halakhic tradition, which incorporates kabbalistic elements to a much greater degree. Politically, he affiliated with the National Union party and in general follows a similar line as Merkaz ha-Rav. He has generally been much closer to Rav Uziel and Rav Hayim David Halevi in his cooperation with Ashkenazi communities, religious and secular.
It seems that the context of the story from the RME camp is mostly concerned with the role of RME himself – how he prayed several times at Kever Rachel, before and during the operation, for the safety of the troops. In addition to the “mystical” element, there’s a polemic element: the safety of the troops was weighing heavily on the nationalist RME’s mind, and so he went to pray at a site which, though indisputably a Jewish holy site, is smack-dab on the middle of
Thus, Rav Ovadiah’s story affirms the positive attitude toward the army operations (which he could hardly afford not to do given the current climate), but, at the same time, steals the thunder from RME both as a political figure and as a holy man.
ADD moment: how come none of these Sephardic rabbis ever have last names?