Arye Deri speaks at Herzliya Conference .
(photo credit: Ori Porat)
Former Shas leader Arye Deri continued to lay the groundwork for his political comeback Tuesday when he spoke out against the values of reality television replacing those of Judaism in a forum on Teaching Jewish Identity and Heritage at the Herzliya Conference on the Balance of Israel’s National Security.
Deri has increased his visibility in recent weeks, and he has made clear to confidants that he intends to return to politics but he has not decided in what framework. While he spoke on a panel with Labor rebel MK Yuli Tamir and former IDF reserve general Elazar Stern, current Shas chairman Eli Yishai is not on the conference’s lengthy list of speakers.
Addressing the name of the conference, Deri said the balance of Israel’s national security depended on its Jewish values, heritage and education. He said he wished that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would speak solely about his view of Judaism in his keynote address at the conference on Wednesday night.
“Jewish culture was always based on the Torah and when modern secular Jewish culture came about, it didn’t really offer anything,” Deri said. “All it really gave us was Big Brother. Do we really want to raise our children with the values of Big Brother??”
Deri said that more haredim were quietly entering the work force, the IDF and universities. He joked that the secular would one day complain that haredim were taking over academia.
In thinly veiled criticism of Shas, he said he generally opposed religious coercion in legislation. But he praised Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich’s effort to promote greater enforcement of legislation banning work on Shabbat, which he said was important to prevent the exploitation of weaker sectors.
When moderator Menashe Raz told Deri that his party would not like some of the things he was saying, Deri asked if he knew what his party was. Tamir then joked that she and Deri had in common that they both lacked a political party.
“We can create headlines: Arye Deri and Yuli Tamir are forming a party together,” Deri joked.
In a speech at a Geneva Initiative forum two weeks ago, Tamir announced that she would not run for Knesset again with Labor because Labor chairman Ehud Barak “preferred instilling fear of a peace deal to negotiating with the Palestinians.”
Tamir’s spokesman denied a report published Tuesday that she had accepted an offer to become president of Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Ramat Gan, but he said it was one of many options before her.
Sources close to Tamir confirmed that she would make a decision about whether to leave the Knesset before its spring recess begins on March 17. If Tamir quits the Knesset, she would be replaced by the next name on Labor’s list, former minister Ghaleb Majadle.
In her speech at the conference, Tamir complained about the divisions between the state, state-religious and haredi education and did not miss an opportunity to criticize the prime minister.
“Netanyahu is holding up the peace process on the Palestinians recognizing Israel as a Jewish state while we ourselves are divided over what constitutes a Jewish state,” she said.