Shas’s behavior calls to mind the strategy employed by Aharon at the time of the Golden Calf, which we read about in Parshat Ki Tissa. Not only did he participate in the building of the idol, he failed to stop Israel from sinning and was rebuked upon Moshe’s return. And Aharon had a mob to deal with while Moshe, the only person able to control the people, was on Har Sinai. Shas is not threatened by an angry mob. Quite the contrary – Olmert has little support from the people, and most Israelis think he should resign.
Shas spokesmen would no doubt respond to all this by saying that various factors need to be taken into account before the party could leave the government. Perhaps party leaders have made a personal commitment to Olmert. Perhaps they believe it would be unprofessional to quit. But such things pale in comparison to the responsibilities owed to Jerusalem and the Jewish people.
It is no defense for Shas to claim it is not morally responsible for Olmert’s actions. The party is his partner. Shas’s spokesman is Olmert’s vice premier. Its spiritual leader offers Olmert aid and comfort in times of political trouble.
One Jerusalem, an organization dedicated to Jewish sovereignty over a unified Jerusalem, is exclaiming “basta!” to Shas. It recently sent out an action alert asking supporters to contact Shas (email@example.com) and urge it to leave the government. “At present, Israel’s Shas party holds the life of Jerusalem in its hands,” the alert stated.
Shas must cease this folly of keeping in power a government whose most important policy Shas claims to reject. No Torah party should participate in a government that stands ready to negotiate the division of Jerusalem. Shas talks about the unity of Jerusalem, but when will it act to preserve that unity – when the completion of negotiations is but a mere formality before the papers are signed?
Every moment Olmert remains in power brings the division of Jerusalem that much closer. If Shas does not act now, it may soon be too late.