Deri's a 'Soul' man

Former Shas leader setting up new movement.

aryeh deri looking jaunty 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
aryeh deri looking jaunty 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Former Shas leader Arye Deri will make an announcement about the formation of a new social welfare movement called Haneshama (the soul) in the near future, sources close to him said Thursday. The ban on Deri engaging in political activity ended two weeks ago, on the seventh anniversary of the end of his prison term for bribery. But Deri decided against marking the occasion and said at the time that he would only announce his future following the end of the traditional three-week mourning period that ended with Tisha Be'av on Thursday. Attorney-general Menahem Mazuz said he would recommend that the ban be extended by one year because Deri's term had been shortened due to good behavior. However, that ruling would not impact Deri's announcement, because the movement would not engage in political activity at first. Nonetheless, Deri has hinted in recent conversations with confidants that he could decide to wait and form the movement only after the fall holidays end on October 10. "There is no reason to hurry," Deri said. "Everything is ready. I can wait for the right timing to announce the founding of the new movement, which will reach out to every sector of the nation and try to bring about unity. The movement will also deal with social justice and help the weak." Deri reportedly recently raised money for the movement among the Syrian Jewish community in Deal, New Jersey, which has become the center of a high-profile corruption investigation. Sources close to Deri said the new movement would eventually become a political party and could even attract current MKs to jump ship before the next election. In a rare interview, Deri told a Tisha Be'Av program on Channel 1 that he was disturbed by the fragmentation of Israeli society. He said it was wrong of the Knesset to focus so many hours on the eve of Tisha be'Av on legislation as divisive as the so-called Mofaz bill. Deri has also recently criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his socioeconomic policies and for not appointing more experienced political advisers. In order to prepare for his political comeback, Deri has been studying English with a private tutor. "I'm already 50 years old, and it's tough learning a new language, but the teacher said I am talented and I already have a good vocabulary," Deri told a confidant. "I will keep learning until I am fluent. I now understand the importance of learning English, and my children are studying and have become fluent, especially my daughters."