Shas campaign to focus on high cost of living, 'assault' on Judaism

"The damage in the past year on all subjects related to Judaism reflects a complete misunderstanding and lack of faith in what we are doing here in the Land of Israel," Shas CEO MK Haim Biton said.

 MK Moshe Abutbul at emergency Knesset meeting, April 6, 2022. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
MK Moshe Abutbul at emergency Knesset meeting, April 6, 2022.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Shas did not waste any time launching its campaign after elections were announced on June 20. The party is focusing on two main points: the high cost of living, and what the party views as the assault by the current government against the country’s Jewish character.

A campaign video released recently by the party – whose official name is “International Union of the Sepharadim, Guardians of the Torah” – shows the hands of a woman as she pulls money out of her wallet but cannot afford to pay for gas, while a man wearing a kippah is not allowed onto a bus because he cannot afford to pay the fee. The video then shows the hands of a young boy who does not have enough coins to buy a loaf of bread.

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman is then shown in black and white drinking a cup of coffee while the words “enough with the cruelty” are splashed across the screen in red. Then the words “Only Shas will lower the cost of living” appear.

"We are here because we are the Jewish nation, we are here due to tradition."

Shas CEO MK Haim Biton

Several Shas MKs went on a media blitz Thursday and were interviewed on a number of platforms.

Shas party election banner in Tel Aviv, April 2019 (credit: BEN BRESKY)Shas party election banner in Tel Aviv, April 2019 (credit: BEN BRESKY)

“The damage in the past year on all subjects related to Judaism reflects a complete misunderstanding and lack of faith in what we are doing here in the Land of Israel,” Shas MK Haim Biton said on Channel 14 on Thursday.

“We are here because we are the Jewish nation, we are here due to tradition,” he added.

Biton also claimed that Shas was stable and that it did not change its views during the five election cycles, unlike Yamina which it says changed its views in order to enter the government.

MK Abutbul's statements

MK Moshe Abutbul added to this in a separate interview on Channel 14.

“What you see [in the government] are people who are disconnected. If there was a Knesset plenum I would come and wave a loaf of bread and shout at them to wake up,” Abutbul said, referring to the intention of Israel’s main bakery to raise the price of bread by 30%. Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Economy Minister Orna Barbivay managed to push off the price hike but it is still expected in coming weeks.

What are other religious parties doing?

In addition, contrary to reports that the Ashkenazi haredi party, United Torah Judaism, will consider entering a government under current Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Shas remains steadfast in its support of opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu. However, young potential Shas voters are beginning to shift toward the far-right Religious Zionist Party. To preserve its strength, Shas will need to come up with a strategy to reel them back in.

Finally, former MK and Shas leader Arye Deri will once again play a part in the party’s campaign. Deri was forced to resign from the Knesset in February as part of a plea deal on tax offenses. Despite the offenses, Deri announced that he will run again in the upcoming election.