Deputy Knesset Speaker and MK Shlomo Molla (Tzipi Livni Party) called on Yisrael Beytenu MKs who immigrated to Israel to publicly denounce a Shas campaign ad which has been widely decried as racist for negatively stereotyping Israel’s immigrant population from the former Soviet Union.
Molla also called on Yisrael Beytenu to declare publicly that the party will not sit in a coalition with Shas.
Yisrael Beytenu had refused to comment on the ad until Wednesday afternoon, despite the fact that the majority of their voters come from the Israeli-Russian community.
MK Sofa Landver did eventually respond, while making it clear she was reacting to the ad itself and not to Molla.
“Shas’ racist propaganda was highly predictable,” the MK said in a statement to the press. “The Shas leadership has lost its compass and its conscience... and the party tries time and again to make political capital through hatred of the other and to blame it’s failures on the immigrant community which has, for a long time, been a tool for societal progress in all fields including the security and economy of the country.”
Landver also alleged that a recent statement by Shas joint-leader Arye Deri that Likud-Beytenu was a party of “Whites and Russians” was not a slip of the tongue but a “motto for Shas’ propaganda.”
Shas’ campaign ad casts aspersions on the state conversion system, and features a tall blonde woman named Marina, speaking Hebrew with a thick Russian accent, punctuated with phrases in Russian, who dials “1-800-conversion” on a fax machine while standing under a wedding canopy with her fiancé.
A return fax rolls in immediately with her conversion certificate.
Molla addressed his letter specifically to Yisrael Beytenu MK Sofa Landver, an immigrant from Russia, stating that Shas’ commercial broadcast “a message of hatred and racism and delegitimization towards the sector of the population you and your friends in Likud-Beytenu claim to represent in the coming elections”
“Shas’ campaign ad is patently racist and threatens to undermine the fabric of Israeli society whilst directing insulting messages to the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to Israel and tied their fate to the state under the Law of Return,” Molla wrote.
The MK, who is in the eighth slot on the Tzipi Livni Party, said that he expects from Yisrael Beytenu MKs to publicly denounce Shas campaign “if you have left in you a shred of basic decency and a drop of respect for your voters and for all Israeli citizen.”
Molla said that without such a basic declaration Yisrael Beytenu MKs, “some of whom, like me, who experienced the pains of immigration,” would be partners to the “hatred and racism” of Shas’ campaign.