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Moving Left, Rav Ovadia Recrowns Deri as Shas Boss

The countdown to a Shas+UTJ replacement of Bennett in the government may have begun.
Shas MK Aryeh Deri

Shas MK Aryeh Deri
Photo Credit: Isaac Harari/FLASH90

Shas’s spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said that his appointment of MK Aryeh Deri as the party’s new chairman is tantamount to “returning of a deposit to its lawful owner,” and was not intended as a move to humiliate MK Eli Yishai.

Yishai served as party boss during Deri’s three years in prison for accepting $155 thousand in bribes. In late 2012, Rav Ovadia created a triumvirat at the head of the party, with Yishai, Deri and Housing Minister Ariel Atias. Late last week, a Shas spokesman announced that Deri has been returned to his original, pre-prison post.

During his weekly Saturday night class, Rav Ovadia remarked that after Deri had been sentenced to prison, he, Rav Ovadia, promised to keep for him the party chairmanship as a deposit, until he returned to political life.

Rav Ovadia added: “If you judge us positively [over this decision] so will God judge you positively.”

He also insisted that the new appointments did not reflect badly on Eli Yishai, whom he said had served him loyally.

Rav Ovadia’s decision has been slammed by many, including Rabbi Amnon Bezek, a dean at Har Etzion Yeshiva, who noted that “this Haredi-Orthodox party, is doing what no other political party in the country would have dared to do: give the leadership post to a man convicted of serious bribery crimes, in place of a man who had served the party faithfully for years and with flawless morales. This decision is blasphemous, and also conveys the message that money and bribery offenses are not serious enough in Jewish law to disqualify a person from serving in such an important public position.”

During the most recent elections, serving as one of Shas’s three leaders but actually running the party’s campaign, Aryeh Deri “released the racial demon out of the bottle,” as the Israeli saying goes. He slammed Liberman’s party directly, alluding that it was pushing easy conversion for Russians of a dubious Jewish association. He also refused a call for an alliance with Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi, saying it was a known thing that Prime Minister Netanyahu was not going to let Bennet et al into his coalition government.

Later, when the Bennett-Lapid axis led to a government without Haredim, and Shas found itself in the opposition, Deri became a furious left-winger, declaring he had more in common with the Arabs of the country than with the middle class-based coalition.

Deri has been held responsible for Shas’s inability to rise beyond the 11 seats it had held in the 18th Knesset, but that, apparently, is not much of a concern for Rav Ovadia.

What should be a concern is the fact that Deri was a supporter of the Oslo plan, as well as of returning large chunks of Eretz Israel to the Arabs. It is not improbable that Netanyahu could opt to replace the Lapid-Bennet axis with a Labor-Deri axis which, along with the 7 Torah Judaism votes could give him a majority should his two youthful partners balk at any of his proposed policies.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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5 Responses to “Moving Left, Rav Ovadia Recrowns Deri as Shas Boss”

  1. Myriam Obadia says:

    Bibi should think long and hard before pulling such a stunt. He may be committing political suicide if he tries to replace two men whose reputation hasn't had time to be tarnished, by a convicted felon who preyed of fellow Jews. The last elections already showed a clear erosion in the PM's popularity, so he should be very prudent.

  2. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef should follow the Pope’s example and retire. He is fast becoming a discredit to his party and the the memory of what he used to be.

  3. Anonymous says:

    While I never voted for Shas – I thought Eli Yishai was a decent human being with good intentions – WAY more than I can say for the convicted and NEVER repentant felon – Deri. Its a shame.

  4. deri has no place in politics at all, it should have been Yishai, Atias and Bukharian born Amnon Kohen who is able politician and businessman, these three could and can lead Shas, unite with Yahadut Torah and make such Kosher noise but this darkness lapid and bennet r not really good cards at all, netanyagu giving in to obummer amalek demands, the dark age has dawned very heavily :(

  5. Rabbi Bezek, Deri has denied the charges. And even if they are true let's not forget that there is a concept of Teshuvah in our religion. Instead of calling the decision of a Gadol hador "blasphemous" perhaps we should give the Gadol the benefit of the doubt. https://www.dropbox.com/s/jk7w2d48up51d5b/03%20Aleph%20Bais%20Song.m4ahttps://www.dropbox.com/s/jk7w2d48up51d5b/03%20Aleph%20Bais%20Song.m4a

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