Former Shas leader and convicted felon Aryeh Deri announced on Wednesday that he is planning to return to politics. But not with Shas. Deri has been out of politics for several years now due to a bribery conviction.
|Accusation of Amalek|
|image of Amsalem via davidvaaknin.blogspot.com|
Yishai publicly slams Amsalem; MK appointed bodyguard
By JONAH MANDEL
Shas newspaper compares maverick lawmaker to Amalek; lawyer files complaint on threats, incitement to violence appearing in newspaper.
In his first public statements on the maelstrom raging in Shas around MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem, party chairman Eli Yishai spent an hour on Thursday lashing out against the lawmaker.
Amsalem is refusing to resign from the Knesset, despite the demands of the party’s spiritual leadership.
Shas’s Torah Sages publish letter slamming Amsalem
Amsalem defies Ovadia Yosef’s order to quit Knesset
“Nobody knew who he was a minute before he joined Shas,” Yishai said in an interview with Radio Kol Berama, which is affiliated with Shas.
As for the possibility of Amsalem forming a new political party, Yishai said that “without a rabbinical council of leaders behind him, not even his wife would vote for him.”
Amsalem was recently officially ousted from the party for expressing opinions such as that only a select minority should dedicate their lives to Torah scholarship, while the others should combine work with study; that non-Jews in Israel from the former Soviet Union with Jewish roots should be provided an easier way into converting to Judaism; that everyone should acquire the basic skills of mathematics and a foreign language, as provided in the state’s core curriculum; and that Sephardic Judaism should not bow its head before the Ashkenazi Lithuanian haredi leadership, which Amsalem says Shas is doing in its stances on matters of religion and education.
Yishai also denied Amsalem’s assertion that he and others prevented the MK from meeting with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, head of the Shas Council of Torah Sages, in order to truthfully present his stances on Torah scholarship, employment, secular studies and conversions.
“There wasn’t even one time that Amsalem wanted to meet with him and he couldn’t,” Yishai said, and added that recently “Yosef himself told his secretary he doesn’t want to meet with Amsalem, since he doesn’t listen to him and distorts his opinion.”
Amsalem did not respond to Yishai’s interview.
Earlier on Thursday, Shas newspaper Yom Leyom took the hostilities against Amsalem to new heights, comparing the lawmaker to Amalek
The front page of the weekly paper, as well as much of a supplement, were dedicated to Amsalem, the Shas Council of Torah Sages’s Monday decision, and elaborations on the “sinful ways” of the MK.
“We demand of Mr. Haim Amsalem by the law of Torah to return his mandate to Shas,” the four-man body of senior Sephardi rabbis had written in their edict. “If he doesn’t do so, he is a thief in broad daylight… And we call on all of those who care about the Torah to keep far away from him and his strange and heretical opinions.”
A wealth of quotes from the council’s decision condemning Amsalem, strongly worded by council head Yosef, were quoted and analyzed by various writers throughout the newspaper.
But Ron Halevy, writing in the supplement, outdid all others in comparing Amsalem to a biblical-era foe whom Jews are ordered to eradicate.
Writing about the “vast damage” that Amsalem’s “empty claims” have caused, Halevy wrote that “with arrogance and boastfulness, that man did the deed of Amalek who the Torah orders us to wipe out his memory, ‘who met thee by the way.’”
The verse from Deuteronomy continues, “and smote the hindmost of thee.”
The Knesset’s master of arms on Thursday ordered a bodyguard to accompany Amsalem at all times.
Amsalem’s office said that “the incitement in wall posters and newspapers that are tantamount to wall posters is very severe. The comparison to Amalek has but one meaning that is clear and dangerous. This is certainly not the way of Torah.”
Sources close to Amsalem were undecided on what they would do in response to the alleged incitement, but Idan Abuhav, a private attorney, decided on his own to both file a complaint with the Tel Aviv police about threats and incitement to violence, as well as write a letter to State Attorney Moshe Lador and Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein asking that they order a criminal investigation into the implicit incitement to violence in the newspaper.
“We secular folk cannot sit on the sidelines and observe how a haredi MK with an agenda of bringing the publics closer to one another, encouraging haredim to join the workforce and study core curriculum subjects, will be the victim of combined attack from all sides,” Abuhav told The Jerusalem Post.
Abuhav stressed that his complaint was not against the council and its harshly worded decision, nor against Shas, and noted his good working relations with some of the party’s other members.
This is only against the statements in Yom Leyom that contain violent incitement, he said.
“We’ve already seen a public figure [prime minister Yitzhak Rabin] here murdered in part due to talk and an atmosphere created. In this case we should be all the more cautious, and not let every bully say what they want,” Abuhav said.
The ambush by Amalek: Exodus 17:8-16
At the time of the exodus, the Amalekites has moved out of their traditional transjordan territory into the Negev just west of Petra: Numbers 13:29
Deuteronomy 25:17-19 Amalekites were a tribe had their origin within the Edomites, being descendants of Esau. They are often associated with Edom, living in the same area as Edom. Their traditional territory is transjordan between Babylon and the gulf of Aqaba.
When American author and Israel expert Jeffrey Goldberg recently asked a Netanyahu confidant to explain this fixation, he simply replied: “Think Amalek.” This is the Jewish concept that forms a potentially disastrous parallel to the Islamic Haqqani school — a pair of mirror-image concepts that could spell war. In a biblical context, Amalek was a descendant of Esau who, with his tribal warriors from Canaan, launched a treacherous and unprovoked attack on the Hebrews as they were traveling to the Holy Land, Eretz Israel. In a broader sense, the term Amalek refers to the existential threat to Judaism at all times, under all circumstances and by all enemies. The Torah, Devarim 25, Fifth Book of Moses, reads: “Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt–how, undeterred by fear of God, he surprised you on the march, when you were famished and weary, and cut down all the stragglers in your rear.”
No Jewish generation is permitted to forget the conflict with Amalek, because Amalek embodies the intrinsically evil and destructive. Fighting Amalek is the duty of every devout Jew, a “mitzvah aseh” or commandment of action. According to some interpretations of ancient scripture, this mitzvah is more far-reaching, namely a commandment to eliminate the original enemies of the Jews.
Rabbis like Bibi Netanyahu’s grandfather taught, and continue to teach today, that Jews are forced to combat the Amalekites, who are constantly, as Goldberg puts it, “reappearing in new forms”: the soldiers of Nebuchadnezzar and of the Spanish Grand Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada, Adolf Hitler’s thugs, and now the Iranian hardliners ,who are vowing to destroy Israel, together with their president, Ahmadinejad. Those who, like Netanyahu, see Iran’s nuclear program as Amalek’s arsenal of weapons, are not just entitled, but are in fact obligated, to take preventive measures to destroy it. According to Jewish apocalyptic constructs, a Jewish state would cease to exist after a possible Iranian nuclear first strike. In other words, it is better to attack first in the case of doubt.The notion that Iran, if it were to use nuclear weapons, would be acting suicidally and would see its government and hundreds of thousands of innocent people wiped out in the inevitable counter-attack is irrelevant. In fact, say the anti-Amalekites, Ahmadinejad literally yearns for such an inferno, because it would pave the way for the return of the Mahdi in the resulting end-time scenario. The Israelis reject as naïve the idea that Ahmadinejad is “merely” a populist and, with his nuclear program, could “only” be pursuing tactical goals like the regional strengthening of Iran to bring it to the same level as Israel, a nuclear power.
But the signs are currently pointing to stormy weather ahead: to Haqqani versus Anti-Amalek, and to a showdown between the unlike twins.via euro-med.dk
Speculation is rife after the Shas spiritual mentor turned 90 this week
Among the most controversial covers of the respected magazine The Jerusalem Report was a haunting picture of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson with the headline “What happens when the Rebbe dies?” The magazine was published in April 1994, two months before the Lubavitcher Rebbe passed away. Printed after he suffered a stroke, the article said Schneerson had no children and had not chosen a successor, leaving his movement’s future in doubt. Sixteen years later, the concerns raised in the magazine have undoubtedly been proven unfounded. Chabad has continued to grow by leaps and bounds, and there are now more than 4,000 Chabad emissary families around the world. Yehuda Krinsky, who is the chairman of Chabad’s educational and social service arm, was even named recently by Newsweek as America’s most influential rabbi. The concerns raised in The Jerusalem Report story came back to the forefront this week when Shas’s spiritual mentor and the leader of Sephardi Jewry worldwide, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, reached the lofty age of 90. While Yosef is reportedly in relatively good health, even the closest people to God cannot emulate His immortality. He, too, is a one-of-a-kind phenomenon, and he has certainly given no indication of who could possibly succeed him. So what happens when Rabbi Ovadia dies? When Shas chairman Eli Yishai is asked that question the first time, he responds that he does not answer hypothetical questions. When pressed and told that the rabbi’s death is inevitable, not hypothetical, he gets offended and replies, “Up to 120, period.” That comparison to Moses, while inadvertent, underscores the problem. Before Moses died at that age, God insisted on Joshua being named as the new leader of the Jewish people so there would be no leadership vacuum at a critical point in the history of His people. Shas’s leadership says it has made no preparations whatsoever. But others outside the Sephardi haredi movement are getting ready. Shas’s critics believe that when the rabbi goes, so does his party, and the country’s political landscape will change dramatically overnight. The six or seven mandates Shas gets from people who are not haredi could return to secular parties. Shas will no longer be the kingmaker in coalition horse-trading. A secular national-unity government that could then more easily be formed could make vast changes in the framework of Israeli politics and society. Changes in the political system that have long been vetoed by Shas could pass. Direct, regional elections for part of the Knesset could be initiated, the electoral threshold could be raised and prime ministers will be much less vulnerable to political extortion. Israel might even get its first constitution. If the secular government changes the status quo on matters of religion and state, Israel may become somewhat less of a Jewish state. The very secular Supreme Court will most likely not prevent this from happening. Secular politicians refer to the rabbi’s death as “the ultimate big bang,” much bigger than the bang that formed Kadima, and certainly bigger than any other inevitable political development. So who could succeed Yosef, who encompasses both the popular appeal to Sephardi Jewry, including the secular constituency that composes Shas’s primary voting power, and at the same time the spiritual leadership, as manifested in his position as head of the Shas Council of Torah Sages? One factor is that while Rabbi Schneerson had no sons, Rabbi Yosef has many. “There are two different types of successor for Yosef,” a prominent figure close to Shas’s spiritual and political leadership told The Jerusalem Post. “The biological successors from among his rabbi sons would be the charismatic, audacious and prolific David; Ya’acov’s contribution would be primarily to the right wing and the national-religious sector; Yitzhak is the halachicly proficient son; and Avraham is the one with accessibility to the broad Israeli public. “But the true successors to Yosef will be two. As the leader of the popular Shas movement that reaches out to people’s hearts, will be accessible to all and safeguard the heritage of Sephardi Judaism, this will no doubt be Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar. Among the Torah-scholars, it will be Rabbi Shalom Cohen,” head of the Porath Yosef yeshiva in Jerusalem and a member of the Shas Council of Torah Sages. Besides Cohen, Rabbis Shimon Ba’adani and Moshe Maya are on the council led by Yosef. “Have no doubt – everything will fall apart after Ovadia’s departure; there will be infighting and rival parties. Many prominent Sephardi rabbis with followings are currently under the auspices of Shas only due to the respect they hold for Yosef’s leadership, but they won’t remain there after he’s gone,” he said. “Amar has a bit of all of Yosef’s powerful leadership traits – he’s a deep-seated Sephardi, welcoming to secular people, with a nonpartisan outlook, the halachic ‘broad-shoulders’ to make concessions, a father to the Sephardim. Not to the degree that Yosef is, but no other leader possesses his qualities to that extent.? “Amar has become Israel’s most influential religious leader. To Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, MK Shelly Yacimovich and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, he is the religious authority, with the character and standing. And he is gaining more and more power. “People close to Netanyahu and Neeman are working to change the law in such a way that would enable Amar to be reelected as chief rabbi after the end of his 10-year term, since they fear that his successor would be problematic – and difficult to cooperate with.” Another factor to Amar’s advantage is the fact that he is Moroccan, the largest Sephardi group in the country. “The Moroccans sought a father-type for years, and didn’t necessarily find it in Iraqi-born Yosef,” he noted. As for the graduates of Sephardi yeshivot, to them “Amar is much less significant. It is Cohen, who will take the helm of the Council of Torah Sages. Cohen is the Sephardi ‘rosh yeshiva,’ the spiritual, scholarly authority,” he said. Here again a parallel between Yosef, who was Sephardi chief rabbi between 1973 and 1982, and Amar emerges. “Aryeh Deri was once asked why Yosef, and not Cohen, is head of the Council of Torah Sages,” he recalled. “The answer he gave was that Yosef was the one who would leave his home every evening in the early ’80s, when Shas was in its initial states of formation, and attend every possible event, meet any interested group, no matter how small, to spread the word of the emerging Sephardi Torah revolution. “Social responsibility is also part of Amar’s agenda. Amar didn’t shy away from the conversion bill, for example, and decrees on every topic. He has a statesmanlike, responsible, sensitive and nonpartisan approach, that takes all of the Jewish people into account, and not just one tribe.” Can Deri himself save the movement he once headed? He has the charisma and can appeal to the Sephardi masses, but he is no halachic authority and is not seen as a religious leader. So who do Shas officials say can succeed Rabbi Ovadia when speaking off the record and only after looking over their shoulder to make sure no one is listening? Rabbi Ovadia. Yes, the rabbi himself, or rather, a picture of him on the wall. Shas officials believe that the traditional Sephardi masses, who voted for Shas because of their respect for Rabbi Ovadia, will continue to do so after his death. “It’s not the ideal situation,” a Shas official said. “But who knows? It worked for Chabad.”
And let us consider for a moment, Eli Yishai. Like so many other children of Jewish refugees from Muslim countries, Yishai was born in Jerusalem. His father, Zion Yishai, however came from Muslim Tunisia. Jews have lived in Tunisia for over 2,500 years. But where they once numbered in the hundreds of thousands, today there are hardly a thousand Jews left. The majority of Tunisian Jews now live in Israel and Europe.
The introduction of Tunisian Jews to Islam began under Idriss I, a direct descendant of Mohammed himself. Idriss I persecuted and massacred the Jews, demanding that they pay Jizya and deliver a certain number of virgins annually to his harem. And thus Idriss I showed himself to be a true greedy and perverted descendant of Mohammed. Several years later Idriss I was fatally poisoned by his Jewish doctor. But despite this coda, as the centuries passed, the discrimination and persecution of the Jews of Tunisia continued.