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The chairwoman of the Central Elections Committee, Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinisch, on Sunday called on Shas Party leader Eli Yishai to retract harsh accusations he made against her after she rejected a Shas radio election commercial.
"I assume that now that the facts have been put before you, you will find the proper way to retract the grave statements you made, which were aimed not only at me personally but also against the important public office that I fulfill as chairwoman of the CEC and against our efforts to prevent violations of the law while providing the opportunity for all contesting party lists to state their case before the public without constraints," Beinisch wrote Yishai.
She was reacting to criticism leveled by Yishai on Saturday night and, in his own voice, in a radio interview on Sunday morning. Among other things, Yishai said that, "whoever silences the words of Torah represents a world view built on hate and destruction - hate rejected by the Jewish people long agoâ€¦It is a sorrowful fact that in the Jewish state, people are trying to censor, destroy and obliterate Torah, an act of abhorrence to the Jewish people."
Yishai accused Beinisch of censoring an election commercial in which Shas spiritual mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef told the story of a man who died and went up to heaven and was immediately ushered through the gates by an angel because he had voted for Shas, which had built mikvaot and synagogues. This claim was reported in the media on Saturday night and Sunday.
But according to Beinisch, the controversial commercial involved a blessing (Mi Sheberach) by Yosef for Shas voters in which he promised that anyone who voted for Shas "would be blessed along with their wives, children, students and all their familiesâ€¦and will be given happiness, honor, good healthâ€¦their youth will be revivedâ€¦success, health and all things good."
Beinisch wrote that this segment violated Section 122 (6) of the Knesset Elections Law, which prohibits the promise of a blessing in return for one's vote.
Beinisch said a member of the CEC called Shas representative Yehuda Avidan and explained that she could not allow the commercial to be aired. "Avidan agreed immediately to withdraw the segment and even accepted the recommendation of the CEC official to voluntarily cancel the entire ad so as not to lose any of the minutes allotted to the party and, instead, to prepare a new ad which would use up all the time at their disposal," wrote Beinisch in her letter to Yishai.
Shas spokesman Roei Lachmanovich told The Jerusalem Post that Shas had been told that Beinisch's disqualification had included two segments - the heaven section and the blessing section. "If that isn't true, we'll be happy to air the heaven section," he added.
In a related development, the High Court of Justice rejected a petition by the Shinui Party against Beinisch's decision to disqualify an ad featuring haredim as impediments latching on to the feet of a secular Israeli. When the secular Israeli casts his ballot for Shinui, the haredim dissolve. The court rejected the petition and said it would hand down the reasons for its decision at a later date.
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