Maverick Shas MK Haim Amsalem formally announced on Tuesday that he would be
running for the Knesset as head of his recently formed Am Shalem
Amsalem was expelled from Shas in 2010 due to his public criticism
of the party for discouraging military service and integration into the work
force among the haredi public, but remained an MK.
“The Am Shalem party
is setting out on the electoral path in order to bring back moderate and
beautiful Judaism to the Jewish people,” Amsalem said at a press conference in
“When I speak of moderate Judaism, I’m talking about a Judaism
which is Zionist and nationalist, a Judaism of Torah and [earning] a livelihood,
of service in the army and which is close to the heart, of accepting those who
are different, of live and let live, and of mutual respect,” he
Amsalem, who is also an ordained rabbi, also said that his party
would seek to redress social problems that have been neglected, and to listen to
and help those living in the periphery of the country who he said have been
ignored and left to their fate.
He also attacked the existing haredi
parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, for having “brought the haredi public
into a pit,” claiming that the ultra-Orthodox community is fed up with poverty
and wants to integrate into society.
The Am Shalem party would fight for
the Jewish people and the haredi public to repair these issues, Amsalem said.
During the event, Amsalem also announced the names of other party members who
would be appearing on his party list as candidates for election to the
Included on the Am Shalem list are Moshe Zarfati, a former
colonel in the air force and a hi-tech entrepreneur; businesswoman Tamar
Abuhatzeira; Rabbi Ariel Konstantyn, founder of the Tel Aviv International
Synagogue and a member of Tzohar, a national-religious rabbinical association;
and Maxim Oknin, Deputy Mayor of Arad.
A poll for Channel 10 conducted in
September showed that a party led by Amsalem would win two seats in the
“We don’t have tens of millions [of shekels] to pour thousands
of activists onto the street, but the public knows who will fight for the good
of the Jewish people,” he said.
Back in November 2010, Amsalem issued a
broadside attack against the Shas party condemning full-time yeshiva students
who are married yet prefer to study and live on government subsidies instead of
finding work. He also railed against other aspects of haredi life and Shas
policies, including the failure to teach core curriculum subjects in haredi
Shas and its spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef ostracized
Amsalem for his comments at the time, but he refused to give up his Knesset seat
despite the demands of the party.