In the morning hours of May 2, 2013, Jerusalem Time, the political news everybody had predicted since the elections in January was announced. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Ultra-Orthodox Shas party announced that Arieh Deri is returning to lead the political party. Deri has recently announced his intentions to stand against the ultra-secular government leading Israel while Minister of Finances Yair Lapid made unprecedented antireligious declarations in the Knesset. Jewish-Wars are in the air.
Shas was founded in 1984 by dissident members of Agudat Israel. In the last elections, the party won 11 seats (out of 120) in the Knesset, the same it had in the previous one. Yet, it lost its place in Netanyahu’s secular coalition; this is seen by Shas as a disaster since its educational system depends heavily on its being part of the government.
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Since its foundation, the party has been under the ideological leadership of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. He was born in 1920 in Iraq. In 1973, he was elected Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, a post that he held for seven years. He is widely recognized as a prominent Talmudic scholar and leading Halakhic (Talmudic Law) authority. Both Shas and Yosef are considered a threat by the secular segments of society.
A Rabbi threatens Israel?
At first, Yosef looks as the epitome of the unholy alliance between Jewish Ultra-Orthodoxy and Zionists; created in the 19th century, this alliance allowed the foundation of the State of Israel. After all, he was the first prominent rabbi to proclaim himself “Zionist.”*
Yet, two other parts of his doctrine transform him into undesirable in the eyes of Jewish secularists. First, he opposes a secular state. Yosef opposes bringing civil actions to Israeli courts because they decide outcomes by applying Israeli law rather than Jewish-Halakha. Rejecting the legal system equals rejecting the foundations of the State of Israel, and thus discloses the party’s intention of founding a future Halakhic state, based on the Talmud.
Second, he is promoting a cultural unification of the various Jewish liturgical traditions. This is extremely important; he preaches the unification of all traditions according to the “Shulchan Aruch” published by Yosef Karo in 1563. The name means “Set Table” and is the most extensive Code of Jewish Law. It generally follows Sephardi traditions. Shortly afterwards, Rabbi Moses Isserles published his notes to the “set table,” usually known as “mappah” (tablecloth). The combination is an acceptable way of solving liturgical discrepancies among the bulk of Jews, namely Sephardic and Ashkenazi. This scares the State to death; as often analyzed in this website, Israel favors policies of “Divide and Rule.” Unification of Jewish traditions is a real threat to the Humanist-fanatic state.
Shas Elections Poster Featuring Avigdor Lieberman, note the “kipah” skullcap Knowing the people involved, one can’t but laugh at the sting. Shas is an Israeli ultra-orthodox religious political party representing Sephardic and Mizrahi Haredi Jews; Avigdor Lieberman represents Russian immigrants, occupies the second place in the Likud Beiteinu list after Netanyahu and is ultra-secular. He is what Shas-voters will call in a derogative manner a “hyrax-eater.” The latter are not kosher; thus this equals to calling him a pagan. He is unlikely to put a kipah upon his head unless threatened with a weapon; in that case, he wouldn’t be smiling the way he does in the poster. Text reads: “Only a strong Shas will prevent assimilation.”
Since the late 1980s, Shas has been targeted by the State of Israel as an undesirable party. Since its views are legal, the State adopted a different tactic: entrapment. In the Zionist Paradise, entrapment is the State’s favorite way of achieving revenge, its highest value. Shas got political prominence thanks to a charismatic follower of Ovadia Yosef. Aryeh Deri became the political leader of Shas and a government minister at the age of 24. His becoming prime minister in the near future seemed a fact. Alas, in 2000, he was entrapped in a bribe affair and sent to jail. He was replaced by Eli Yishai, who lacks the charisma of Deri. Shas strength deteriorated. Other leaders of the party were framed using similar tactics; nobody had warned them that the State uses illegitimate means.
In late 2012, Deri decided to return to politics, and was placed second on Shas’ list behind Eli Yishai. Regardless of the situation, Deri makes smart decisions. Shas campaign is not centering on his return despite its being the main news of this campaign but in the evils of the secular state. On December 27, 2012, Aryeh Deri said about Likud, “once the party of the people, it has turned into an arrogant and haughty party that represents Russians and whites,” and cost Netanyahu’s party valuable votes. Lieberman with a “kipah,” Netanyahu as a leader obtuse to social needs. “Revenge” is the word, “religious war” is the reality.
Since Deri returned, Shas had been led by a troika. Yishai, Deri, and Atias (see picture above) had an equal weight on political decisions despite Yishai formally keeping remaining head of the party. Following their failure to increase power in the elections and their remaining out of Netanyahu’s government, Yishai’s fate was set. A journalist described their recent relations as “they were stabbing each other occasionally with short knives; now they are using axes.” Deri will be from now head of the party, Atias will lead the list in the Knesset, and Yishai was demoted to be the director of the party’s educational system (in Israel, education is defined by “streams,” like secular, socialist, Ultra-Orthodox, Arabic, and others). Deri is in a desperate quest to save the party.
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- Ultra-Orthodox Judaism Declares War on Netanyahu (jewishterrorism.com)
- Israeli ultra-Orthodox party reinstates leader (utsandiego.com)
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- Israeli Ultra-Orthodox Party Reinstates Leader (abcnews.go.com)
- Deri named Shas Party chairman (jta.org)
- Israeli ultra-Orthodox party reinstates leader (journalstar.com)
- Israeli ultra-Orthodox party reinstates leader (thestate.com)
- Israeli ultra-Orthodox party reinstates leader (cnsnews.com)
- Israeli ultra-Orthodox party reinstates leader (foxnews.com)