The return of Arye Deri

You can already start to feel sorry for Yishai. Soon he’ll find out that the sheep to be slaughtered in honor of this historic reconciliation is himself.

October 18, 2012 22:00
2 minute read.
Shas's Arye Deri, Eli Yishai shake hands

Shas's Arye Deri, Eli Yishai shake hands 370. (photo credit: Shas handout)


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The sight of a new troika in Shas feeds our imagination about what might happen in the Sephardi haredi party on January 23, 2013. There is one lion (Arye Deri), one fox (Ariel Attias), and one black sheep (Eli Yishai).

It’s time to concede that all the promises Deri made about establishing a new “social party” and creating a revolution on our political map were merely a spectacular intimidation maneuver eagerly swallowed up by all of us, in one way or another.

No social party, and no alternative. Ultimately, Deri came home with his tail between his legs. Without being the chairman, without being the senior official in the party, but don’t worry about him. He’ll show them after the election.

You can already start to feel sorry for Yishai. Soon he’ll find out that the sheep to be slaughtered in honor of this historic reconciliation is himself.

Once it became clear that Deri was returning, MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem, the chairman of the Shas breakaway Am Shalem, issued this statement: “Today, Shas has been infected with moral turpitude. I propose the party also takes back Yair Levy, Shlomo Benizri, Rafael Pinhasi, Ofer Hugi and other party members convicted of various crimes. Shas disgraced and shamed the Sephardi public. In Moroccan, they call it “Hashoma“ (“shame”). This is a desecration of God’s name. Shas today has finally killed its remaining shame. The first party in Israel to allow a convicted felon to return to its ranks is a haredi party.”

I disagree with Amsalem regarding the right of Deri to return after he served his punishment and paid his debt to the society, just the way I think Ehud Olmert can make a political comeback, or Haim Ramon or Tzachi Hanegbi.

There is law in Israel and there is no reason not to uphold it. And the public? The public will judge through the ballot box if it is appropriate or not. Only the public, and no one else.

But regarding all other things he said, I totally support Amsalem. If Deri was establishing an independent movement, I would have had some doubts.

Because Deri says what Amsalem says, but behind closed doors. He whispers. He would not dare say it publicly.

Now, as Deri returns to Shas, the party that did more than any other to represent the poverty of people from eastern communities, it’s clear to me, that the only alternative, the one that raises real hope, is Amsalem’s social movement.

Shas will continue to represent extremist Lithuanians, who are anti-Zionist and unproductive.

It will continue to represent Sephardim over Ashkenazi haredim, reinforcing their current ignorance and isolation.

Amsalem represents the exact opposite: the return to a warm Judaism, a sane and embracing religion, just like in our fathers’ homes. A real return to Judaism’s former glory.

Amsalem preaches in favor of haredim serving in the military service and going out to work, while at the same time, the real sages study Torah.

Amsalem is the only one who tells the truth. He promises to post a woman in the third place on his list. He is the only bridge between the haredim and the rest of us.

He is the only hope, and at least for me, he will be a real alternative in the January 22 elections. Anyone who cares about what happens to our education and culture should consider voting for Am Shalem headed by Rabbi Haim Amsalem.

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