On Monday Bill de Blasio, the Democratic candidate for New York City mayor, mourned the death of the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, prominent Jewish activist, and avowed racist Ovadia Yosef—whom Jeffrey Goldberg called the “Israeli Ayatollah”—by praising Yosef’s “wisdom, charity and sensitivity” as “legendary.” According to The Yeshiva World, de Blasio (appearing in the video above) refused to back down during a Manhattan fundraiser on Wednesday.

“I think it is so important when you’ve got a leader [Yosef] who had such an extraordinary devotion and brought people together in the way he did, no one is perfect in this world, but I think it’s incredibly important to acknowledge what it meant to so many in the Jewish community,” Mr. de Blasio stressed. “By the way, I heard there were a million people by his funeral. That’s extraordinary, an unbelievable statement.”

While de Blasio’s campaign declined to comment on the record to Gawker, a spokesman told The New York Post: “Bill, like the US ambassador to Israel, was offering his condolences, not an endorsement of his views.”