Haim Amsalem 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Shas Council of Torah Sages will convene Tuesday to decide on the political
future of MK Haim Amsalem, who has been at the center of a heated debate in the
haredi world for over a week since an article cited him as slamming the Shas
movement and suggested he was about to break off and form a new religious
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As reported by The Jerusalem Post, veteran political
commentator Shalom Yerushalmi drew up the lines for Amsalem’s projected new
party in the November 5 weekend Maariv, based on conversations with the lawmaker
and sources close to him. The party would promote haredi employment and army
service, all from a halachicly committed standpoint, according to the report.
Yerushalmi also mentioned the name of former Shas leader Aryeh Deri as a figure
who could join Amsalem’s new party.
That same Friday, Amsalem issued a
statement saying that he was “a member of Shas and active in it, and from within
it, in order to change and amend what is needed, for the benefit of the people
of Israel and the Torah of Israel” – without explicitly denying Yerushalmi’s
Shas chairman Eli Yishai seized the opportunity to convince
Amsalem’s spiritual leader and political patron, Rabbi Meir Mazuz, that his
protegé desecrated the name of heaven not only in the recent article, but in
many other instances as well, and presented an entire file last Thursday proving
Amsalem has caused the other Shas politicians grief on more
than one occasion – most notably regarding discrimination against Sephardi
children in the haredi education system, with Amsalem leading a continuous and
clear line of separation from dependency on Ashkenazi institutions. In addition,
Amsalem, a rabbi by training, does not hesitate to draw on Jewish sources to
prove the importance of employment for those incapable of dedicating their life
to Torah study, or to advocate that the rabbinical establishment encourage
conversion for Israelis with Jewish roots who have tied their fate with that of
the Jewish people, such as the hundreds of thousands of olim from the former
Soviet Union who are not halachicly Jewish but serve in the
Following the discussion with Yishai, Mazuz reportedly informed
Council of Torah Sages head Rabbi Ovadia Yosef that as far as he was concerned,
Amsalem could be ejected from the party.
In addition, Rabbi Moshe Maya,
also a member of the council, said in a radio interview Sunday that Amsalem was
in need of mental health care due to the statements attributed to the
Amsalem, who was out of the country for a week and did not
respond directly to the maelstrom, returned to Israel Monday evening from
Canada, where he had attended the Ottawa Conference for Combating Anti-
Semitism, and headed off to meet with Mazuz.
The MK expressed confidence
that he would be able to set things straight with his mentor, whom he believes
was deliberately misinformed by Yishai.