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The Cross of Bethlehem

The Cross of Bethlehem II

Israel's Elections Degenerate into Religious War

"State with a Soul"
Shas main Slogan

 

 

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Shas Elections Poster Featuring Avigdor Lieberman Shas Elections Poster Featuring Avigdor Lieberman

Shas Elections Poster Featuring Avigdor Lieberman | note the "kipah" skullcap

Nowadays, pictures and videos are not credible; they are easily faked. Probably, this is the case with the Shas elections poster shown above. It looks wrong. It reads "Only a strong Shas will prevent assimilation;" the picture shows Avigdor Lieberman with a black "kipah" skullcap, Haredi-style. 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 "rabbit-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. Three weeks before the upcoming elections, the campaign has degenerated into a war between secular and religious Jews. The historic alliance between secular Zionism and ultra-orthodox Judaism has never been frailer. Will it break apart?

Netanyahu in Shas Poster

Netanyahu featured in a Shas Poster
Beyond Sacred and Secular: Politics of Religion in Israel and Turkey

The poster next to the paragraph above shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It reads "Only a strong Shas will take care of the weak." Here too there is a sting. Since early 2011, Netanyahu's government has been facing massive social protests. Both posters end in a similar fashion. They show a Shas party ballot note, and their main campaign slogan: "State with a soul." Religious parties often claim that the secular state is soulless; it cares only for the welfare of the oligarchy running it. Shas campaign is centered on the unacceptability of the secular state.

Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot EXODUS 21:24

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. It forms part of Netanyahu’s coalition, with four members in the actual government. Since its foundation, the party has been under the ideological leadership of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Ovadia Yosef 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.

Shas Leader—Ovadia Yosef

Shas Leader—Ovadia Yosef
Israel and the Politics of Jewish Identity: The Secular-Religious Impasse

"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?” Yet, this doesn't mean that he supports the 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.

Revenge is the main value preached by the State of Israel. In Olmert Acquitted: Administrators' Dictatorship I reviewed two prominent cases showing that. Eliyahu "Eli" Hurvitz is one of Israel's richest businessmen. In the early 1990s, he committed a horrendous crime in the eyes of the bureaucrats running the Israeli Administration: he openly said that he wanted to pay as few taxes as legally possible. He was taken to court by the State; only after ten years of a frightfully expensive struggle, the Supreme Court proved that his attitude was legal. Then, on July 10, 2012, the Jerusalem District Court absolved former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of the majority of the corruption charges brought against him out of political revenge considerations. These had caused his impeachment in 2008. Prosecutor Moshe Lador’s first reaction to the verdict was disgusting. "I’m sorry if Olmert felt hurt," he said. This wasn’t a proper apology for his error, which caused significant damage to Mr. Olmert’s life. He conditioned the apology. This is like saying "I did nothing wrong. However, I say ‘I’m sorry’ so that you will feel better." This is a worthless apology. Can he bring the situation back to the point it was before this unelected administrator took decisions with political implications to the entire area? Unless he restores it, he cannot redeem himself. He is guilty. He did wrong. He must face justice so that no other civil servant attempts to harass a citizen again. Considering the unacceptable behavior of the secular state, Shas was unlikely to survive Yosef's attitude toward secular laws.

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, trapping people 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. In 2000, he was entrapped in a bribe affair and sent to jail. The current leader of Shas—Eli Yishai—replaced him, but he lacked the charisma of Deri, and Shas strength deteriorated. Other leaders of the party were framed using similar tactics; nobody had warned them that the State uses such illegitimate means. They went to jail and analyzed the crimes of the state against them.

In late 2012, Deri decided to return to politics; he is currently 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.

Aryeh Deri - Shas

Aryeh Deri - Shas
Elusive Israel: The Puzzle of Election in Romans

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