Shas embarked on a full-scale ethnic campaign Thursday, accusing the joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list of discriminating against Sephardim and contributing to the secularization of the state.
The campaign came in reaction to statements by Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman insulting Shas's Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias. Arye Deri of the Shas leadership triumvirate warned that just like the Likud "humiliated" Social Welfare Minister Moshe Kachlon, it was trying to humiliate the rest of the Sephardi ministers.
"Now it is clear who is really in charge of Likud Beytenu," said one of Shas. "Yisrael Beytenu took over the Likud in a hostile takeover. From the party of the people, the Likud has become the party of arrogance that represents Russians and Whites. This should be a wake-up call for all Sephardim that only Shas will take care of them in the next Netanyahu government."
Shas officials said their surveys had found that the ethnic issue helped the party. The party released a new commercial that contrasts tolerant quotes about Judaism from Liberman in Hebrew and anti-Shas quotes in Russian."
Yisrael Beytenu officials responded that the new Shas campaign and quotes were unfortunate, noting the likelihood that the two parties would sit together in the next government.