Eitan Haber
Photo: Shalom Bar Tal
Shlomo Benizri - Sentenced to 18-month term
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Deri - 'The power went to their heads'
Photo: Gil Yohanan

What happened to Shas?

Eitan Haber tries to understand why so many Shas politicians end up before the courts

The lovely Shlomo Benizri may soon have to change his address to one of Israel’s prisons. (Personally, I must admit that I’m feeling terrible about it – I have great respect for him.)


However, this may be the right time and place to ask the following question: What kind of curse had befallen his Knesset faction, Shas, whereby about half of its members have had their day in court, and according to prevalent jokes around here the other half is on its way there as well?


We are talking about a group of people that includes at least some highly talented individuals and “men of the world” – people who can listen and who can make things happen (former Shas leader Aryeh Deri, for example, is among the top five most talented politicians in the country in my view.)


These people could have “made it big” even without all the shticks and tricks, and without conducting themselves illegally. So what happened to them up there in government positions?


Power went to their heads

I think the answer to this question can be found in the words that Aryeh Deri once told me candidly (and if he was not the one who uttered them, may he forgive me): The power went to their heads, and up there it appeared to them that they can get away with anything, including those acts that ultimately brought them to court.


This is a great pity. Shas is here to stay as part of Israeli politics. It gives genuine expression to a large group of people that has been discriminated against for generations yet chooses to walk the path of reconciliation and understanding (despite a few cases of deviating from that road, here and there, including these days under the leadership of Eli Yishai.)


Shas’ representatives, or at least some of them, are worthy individuals. It seems that at this time they need Jacob’s ladder, which reached up to the heavens according to the Book of Genesis. However, this time around they need this ladder in order to come back down to earth.


פרסום ראשון: 04.28.08, 00:15
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