(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Shas chairman Arye Deri has apparently banned Shas officials from interviewing on the popular haredi radio station Kol Barama.
Moti Lavi, one of the station’s main news anchors, said on Tuesday morning that a spokesman for Tzvika Cohen, a Shas member of the Jerusalem City Council and a deputy mayor, told him that Cohen could not do an interview on the radio station about the preparations in the capital for the expected snow storm because Deri has banned Shas officials from interviews with Kol Barama.
This is not the first time that the radio station has come under fire from the senior Shas leadership.
This past October, Shas’s new spiritual leader Rabbi Shalom Cohen heavily criticized Kol Berama and said it was forbidden to listen to the station, while in October 2013, Cohen said the station broadcast lies about Shas and should be shut down.
Kol Berama is owned by Tzvi Amar, a close friend of Deri’s long-standing enemy and former Shas member and chairman Eli Yishai who quit the party last month and set up a rival party.
Deri has for a long time suspected the station of favoring Yishai in the interminable feud between the two men and has chaffed at Kol Berama’s coverage of the dispute.
Nati Lasri, a former director of the Shas party and a Shas Jerusalem City Council member until last month, responded to Deri’s ban by telling Cohen he should step down from his position.
“If service to the citizen is dependent on bowing down to this master or that master then we have a problem,” Lasri said in reference to Deri.
“Rabbi Tzvika Cohen is a friend of mine, a man of action and many achievements, but unfortunately this time he has made a mistake and fallen into a trap of a regime that is crumbling.”
A Shas spokesman denied that there is a blanket ban on Shas officials granting interviews to the station but refused to explain the comments of Cohen’s spokesman.
Despite the apparent ban, Rabbi Shimon Baadani, one of the four members of the Shas Council of Torah Sages, visited the offices of Kol Barama on Monday and warmly praised the station, saying that the broadcasters were doing “holy work” and that although the station has its detractors it should not listen to “the slanderers.”
According to a report in the haredi news website B’hadrei Haredim, Shas activists visited Baadani on Monday night and asked that he retract his comments.
No such retraction has been forthcoming.