Rabbi David Stav, Chairman of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization and Rabbi of the city of Shoham, on Tuesday attacked “former convict” and current Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) over the latter’s own attacks on Religious Zionism and Tzohar Rabbis.
Speaking to Reshet Bet Radio, Rabbi Stav said, “Deri is a convicted criminal who dares to cast blame on whole populations, as well as an organization of hundreds of rabbis who have conducted, and with God’s help will continue to conduct, hundreds of thousands of weddings.”
“We did not gather here to respond to the words of convicted criminals,” a furious Rabbi Stav added, noting that “Deri does not know his right from his left, neither in Torah nor in halakha.”
At a closed conference, parts of which were broadcast on Channel 2 News Monday, Deri said, “Even the ‘knitted yarmulkes’ today, in very large communities, mainly at the center of the country, are already on the edge of becoming Reform.”
“Those who know how synagogues and prayer services are conducted there, [knows] there have been very big changes. True – it is done with yarmulkes and it is more Israeli, but it is on the borderline of the Reform.”
As to the political storm surrounding the conversion law, which took away authority from local Orthodox courts in Israel, returning full control to the Chief Rabbinate, Deri said, “The greatest fighters against this law were the Tzohar rabbis, together with the Reform movement, because they knew that the goal was destruction. They enjoyed the shaming of their fellow-men, slandered the Chief Rabbinate, searched for all possible shortcomings.”
“Everything they do is free, with a smile, a friendly face – when we all know the truth behind it,” Deri concluded.
Aryeh Deri was convicted of taking $155,000 in bribes while serving as Interior Minister, and was given a three-year jail sentence in 2000. Deri was released from Prison on good behavior in 2002 after serving only 22 months.
This year, having been returned to the post of Interior Minister from which he was sent to jail, Deri and his wife, Yaffa, are once again under police investigation for money laundering, fraud and breach of trust, theft by an agent, false registration and tax offenses.
According to Israeli Media, Deri’s Shas party is already preparing for “the day after Deri,” which is why the beleaguered politician is looking to deflect talk of his own eroding status by pointing to a common enemy from without. Should Shas take yet another loss in the coming elections, it is expected that some of its voters would wander of to Habayit Hayehudi, the flagship of Religious Zionism.