Photo: Gil Yohanan
Shas leader Eli Yishai with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Extortion in God’s name

No precedent for Shas-style political extortion in Jewish history

Fifty percent of the population is not represented among its ranks. This party, in the upcoming elections and until the Messiah arrives, will not allow any woman to independently speak her mind in parliament. A million and a half new immigrants also have no representation among the bunch of men Shas sends to the Knesset. This party also never had, and certainly never will have, an Arab representative, even though it regularly cries “discrimination.”


And what about secular Israelis? Those are asses, as Rabbi Ovadia said just recently, referring to secular teachers – and this is one of his kindest statements regarding those who do not vote for his party.


Shas is a sectarian, belligerent, and whiny organization that shamelessly ignores the principles of true representative democracy; yet this did not prevent Knesset Member Yakov Margi to inform his supporters and the media that Kadima of all parties is the one that is closed of to “non-whites” and that Kadima’s PR consultants spread hatred, just like, you know, those people in Europe, during an era MK Margi doesn’t know too much about.


The Nazis did not compare Jews to mice, by the way. This was actually a powerful anti-Nazi image created by a Jewish illustrator, Art Spiegelman, in his ingenious comic book. I have no doubt that MK Margi never read it.


Yet these are the people who demand the education portfolio in the next government: People who hold on to views according to which it isn’t at all clear whether one can vote for a party headed by a woman. People whose willingness to join the Israeli job market is inversely related to their desire to despise, show contempt, and disparage the large secular community, whose taxes pay the salaries of Shas’ dark and separatist education system – where they teach a new generation why and how women, seculars, new immigrants, Arabs, and anyone who isn’t a Shasnik are disqualified in their eyes.


Orderly doctrine

The cheeky, false, and hurtful statement made by MK Margi is the latest escalation in a struggle that anyone who finds democracy dear to his heart must support – in words, deeds, with serious intentions and in the public arena. This struggle did not start in the current elections. On the night Ehud Barak was elected prime minister, in May 1999, hundreds of his supporters yelled “just not Shas,” yet he nonetheless chose it as a coalition partner.


The extortion campaign led by its elected representatives eventually saw the government crumble, and it is doubtful whether anyone still remembers the one righteous soul in that Sodom-like administration, Education Minister Yossi Sarid, who refused to delegate more and more powers to Deputy Education Minister Meshulam Nahari. Barak preferred to see Meretz quit the government, and continued the regular campaign of government flattery towards Rabbi Ovadia and his elected representatives.


Ever since then, who knows how many Shas Knesset members found their way to prison, and how many insults were hurled by them towards the seculars – and how many billions of shekels all of this cost those asses, the seculars.


The problem with statements such as the one uttered by MK Margi is not the fact that it was made in the heat of an election campaign. Rather, it is part of an orderly doctrine of an organization whose final objective – forgive this expression – is the establishment of a religious state in Israel. If you push them into a corner, all of Shas’ Knesset members will admit that, God willing, this is exactly what they envision.


With such goal, almost everything is allowed – aside from having women in the Knesset of course. It becomes okay to compare Kadima to the Nazis, and it is certainly okay to do so while completely distorting history. Because over the course of history, which is not seriously studied in Shas’ education system, and even in the history of the Jewish people, which Shas followers study in a partial and biased manner, there is not even one case where Jews formed a party and used the political system in order to extort other Jews. This only happened once: Ever since Shas has been playing in the democratic theater, doing so without much interference or protest.


פרסום ראשון: 11.24.08, 19:23
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