Amsalem announces Knesset run in Am Shalem

Expelled from Shas in 2010, maverick MK says he wants to "bring back moderate and beautiful Judaism to the Jewish people."

October 17, 2012 06:09
2 minute read.
Shas MK Haim Amsalem

Haim Amsalem 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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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 party.

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.

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“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 Tel Aviv.

“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 said.

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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 Knesset.

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 Knesset.

“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 schools.

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.

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