Ultra-Orthodox Judaism Declares War on Netanyahu
"State with a Soul"—Shas main 2013 Elections Slogan
"We do what we want because we have the strength"—Secular Judaism Mantra
New in the Website
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?
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.
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.
"I don't keep the Sabbath"
In the last days of April, Netanyahu's government faced a vote of no confidence due to its proposed budget. This is a regular festival that follows every attempt of the government to pass a budget. In fact, the government passes two laws. One contains the budget proper and is called the Budget Law. The second is known as the "Arrangements Law" (Hok HaHesderim), though its formal name is "Economic Policy Law;" this highly controversial law "fixes" existing laws so that the budget would be legal. This farce is what happens in countries without a Constitution. This year the festival was different since the Ultra-Orthodox parties, including Shas, voted against the government.
The festival became a scandal, when an Ultra-Orthodox Member of the Knesset, shout towards the Minister of Finances Lapid "you update your Facebook status during the Sabbath." Regardless most of them being proud "hyrax-eaters," government ministers had always been carefull to keep at least an external image of being good Jews. Lapid shocked everybody by saying, while giving a formal speech on the State Budget, "I don't keep the Sabbath."
The event was so shocking that it was defined using Judges 15:8 "And he smote them hip and thigh." The English translation is rather soft. The original Hebrew is better translated as: "he hit their legs on their thighs;" this is an idiom used to denote a complete victory. The new budget cuts a significant percentage of the State allowance to Ultra-Orthodox families. Moreover, later this year there are Chief Rabbi's elections. Yosef's favorite candidate, Shlomo Amar, requires a change of legislation since he already holds the title. Yet, Netanyahu's coalition opposes the change.
The Ultra-Orthodox waked up. They understood that the situation is serious. In recent months, there were talks that Deri would run for mayor of Jerusalem in the October municipal elections. Not any more. Rabbi Yosef called an urgent meeting of the religious leadership of Shas. Deri was said to have met with him privately and having exhorted the rabbi to reach a decision on the leadership. Today's answer was clear, Rabbi Yosef decided to "Restore the Crown to its Old State"* by returning Deri to the leadership.
If Netanyahu's government survives, the Ultra-Orthodoxy will need to take a painful decision. One option would be to "secularize," accepting draft to the IDF and joining the outrageous educational system of the State. The other option would be to create an autonomic enclave within the State based upon help from the Ultra-Orthodox communities of Europe and the USA, which are extremely wealthy. This second option is probably the path to be favored.
* "Restoring the Crown to its Old State" ("Leahzir Atara LeYoshna") was the party's slogan during its first years; it’s an excellent summary of his views. It means restoring the pride of Mizrahi Jews, which suffer from discrimination in Israel; it also means rejecting Kabbalah wherever it contradicts earlier writings; in other words, he isn’t a mystic. Yosef holds a Halakhically ambivalent view towards Zionism, considering it "Atchalta D'Geula" ("Redemption’s Beginning" in Aramaic). In 2010, Rabbi Yosef and Shas' "Moetzet Chachamei HaTorah" (Council of Torah-Sages) approved the party’s membership in the World Zionist Organization, transforming it into the first Zionist-Haredi party in Israel. Yet, that’s only due to political interests. In an interview, Yosef said, “What is a Zionist? By our understanding, a Zionist is a person who loves Zion and practices the commandment of settling the land. Whenever I am overseas, I encourage Aliyah [immigration to Israel]. In what way are they more Zionist than us?”
My articles on the web are my main income these days; please recognize my efforts in writing them by donating or buying a copy of The Cross of Bethlehem, or Back in Bethlehem.