Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef (L) and former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar (R)..
(photo credit: OFFICE OF RABBI SHLOMO AMAR)
Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef has banned the Kol Barama haredi radio station from broadcasting his weekly Torah lessons, the latest step in a fierce campaign Shas and its leader, Minister of the Negev and Galilee Aryeh Deri, has waged against the station.
Kol Barama is part owned by businessman Tzvi Amar, a close ally of former Shas chairman and Deri rival, Eli Yishai. The station was established with help from Shas in 2009 when Yishai was party chairman.
The station once broadcast weekly Saturday night Torah lessons by revered late Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who was the chief rabbi’s father. These broadcasts were suspended several months ago, and the lessons are now carried by Moreshet Radio, a branch of Israel Radio.
Since Deri’s return to Shas from his forced political exile for having spent time in prison on bribe convictions, the rivalry between him and Yishai has deepened and Shas animus against Kol Barama, has also grown.
In October 2014, Shas’ new spiritual leader Rabbi Shalom Cohen criticized Kol Barama and banned listening to the station. A year earlier he accused the station of broadcasting lies about Shas and called for it to be shut down.
In January, Deri banned Shas officials from being interviewed on the station.
Kol Barama had reached a deal to resume broadcasts of the late Rabbi Yosef’s shiurim, but Shas has put pressure on Yosef to retract his approval of a month ago. The chief rabbi’s office published a handwritten letter by Yosef in which he praised Radio Kol Hai, Kol Barama’s main competitor, now favored by Shas’ leaders, and Moreshet Radio, for broadcasting his lessons.
But he also wrote that “no other station has permission to broadcast the lesson without my approval,” in what was understood to be an indirect reference to Kol Barama.