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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Olmert and Shas cut a deal

With yesterday's departure of Yisrael Beiteinu from his coalition, Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert is left with a coalition of 67 MK's and only one party to the right of his own Kadima Achora party: Shas. For those not familiar with it, Shas is a Sephardic ultra-Orthodox party which broke away from what is now United Torah Judaism - the Ashkenazic ultra-Orthodox party in the mid-80's. Shas has a very right wing electorate, but takes rabbinic guidance from Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who is a long-time proponent of land for 'peace.' Some of Shas' politicians have not always been known for their upright behavior....

But Shas has twelve seats in the Knesset, and if they bolt his coalition, Olmert would be left with 55 seats rather than 67, and would be dependent on a 'safety net' from Meretz's five seats from outside the coalition. So Olmert went to Eli Yishai (pictured, top left), Shas' leader, and cut a deal:
Olmert's associates relayed messages to Yishai and to Communications Minister Ariel Attias that negotiations with the Palestinians on Jerusalem would proceed at a much slower pace than other core issues of the conflict. They asked Attias to forward the messages to Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Yosef issued a new directive Tuesday that the party would leave the government as soon as serious negotiations began on the fate of Jerusalem. Attias said Olmert would take the threat seriously.

"Olmert is not an idiot," Attias said. "He will leave the Jerusalem issue until the end of the negotiations because of us, and we will make sure he never gets there. As long as we are in the government, Jerusalem will not be negotiated. We will go to the next elections as the defenders of Jerusalem."

Shas officials said the party could remain in the government for an extended period as long as the Jerusalem issue was not negotiated and no concrete agreement was reached on the other core issues of the conflict, such as refugees and the final borders of a Palestinian state.

"Negotiations on the core issues have started, and we haven't left," Attias said. "Now that Israel Beiteinu is gone, our job is to put the brakes on dividing Jerusalem. We will check on an ongoing basis whether Jerusalem is on the table."
I don't see how they can prevent Olmert from negotiating and reaching agreements on all of the 'core issues' (sugyot ha'liba) - no one else is going to be sitting in the room with foreign minister Tzipi Livni and chief 'Palestinian' negotiator Abu Ala, and Livni can present the government with a fait accomplis that will make Shas' subsequent resignation meaningless. Ask the NRP what happened with Gush Katif. (The NRP - National Religious Party - was part of the coalition when Ariel Sharon brought the first stages of the Gaza expulsion plan to vote. They remained in the government saying that they were going to prevent the expulsion from happening. We all see the results. Of course, had they left the government, their 'institutions' would have suffered financially...).

I note that when Shas joined the government in 2006, it did so with reservations about the provision in the coalition agreement that called for a "reduction in the areas of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria." I guess that one doesn't matter any more, and they won't object if Olmert freezes Jewish housing in Judea and Samaria entirely - so long as apartments are still built in Beitar Ilit and Kiryat Sefer (the two ultra-Orthodox cities that are just over the green line). I also note that just before the Annapolis gang rape, Eli Yishai told Mishpacha magazine that ""If Israel agrees to a settlement freeze in Yehudah and Shomron, Shas will be forced to leave the government." There goes that promise too. In case you didn't figure out yet, there's only one thing that matters to Shas. It's pictured below. But at least it will be going to 'their institutions.'
Please allow me to repeat something I have told you all before that might make this a bit more understandable to those of you who don't live and breathe Israeli politics every day.
Tonight, I have to tell you the truth. The truth is that many people in this country - maybe even most people in this country - don't give a damn about anyone outside their own family, their own neighborhood, their own community or their own 'kind.' Most of us are afflicted with a disease where we don't care for others, have no feeling for the common good, and no sense of community. Everyone is out for themselves. Whether it's abandoning land because I don't live near it or cheating on taxes because everyone does it or going on strike because someone else is making more money than I am thereby leaving thousands of adolescents to roam the streets for six weeks, most of this country has no feeling of belonging. Everyone is trying to avoid being a 'frier' (a sucker) and everyone is out for themselves. The chickens are now coming home to roost.
I don't think I've ever written anything truer on this blog than those words.


At 11:42 AM, Blogger Unknown said...


I do not think that your assumption is correct. (By the way how can you conciliate such a view of the Israeli nation with "ahavat Israel"?)

The apathy is there but it is more lack of hope than the callous lack of care you assume.

This text http://www.danielgordis.org/Site/Site_ViewDispatches.asp?id=10 is one year old but still relevant.

If you find it too secular, use this response to complement it:


At 11:54 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Jews should love each other but that's hard to see from a government that considers conciliating terrorists its first order of business - whether that's surrendering land, dividing up Jerusalem, kicking Jews out of Beit Shalom in Hebron, letting the murderers of David Rubin and Achikam Amichai go free, refusing to defend the people of Sderot under fire and generally acting in a spirit of self-abasement, greed, weakness and cowardice.

Those have become Israeli values. There's a dangerous degree of Jewish self-loathing and self-hatred that has been internalized that puts Israel's very survival into question.

A country that puts up with the kind of leadership Israel has does perhaps deserve to have the Western Wall torn away from it as punishment for its sins. I think deserting and turning one's back on one's own Jewish brethren, as Israel is doing, is enough to make the Divine Presence reject it.

At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ישעיהו פרק סו
א כֹּה, אָמַר יְהוָה, הַשָּׁמַיִם כִּסְאִי, וְהָאָרֶץ הֲדֹם רַגְלָי; אֵי-זֶה בַיִת אֲשֶׁר תִּבְנוּ-לִי, וְאֵי-זֶה מָקוֹם מְנוּחָתִי. ב וְאֶת-כָּל-אֵלֶּה יָדִי עָשָׂתָה, וַיִּהְיוּ כָל-אֵלֶּה נְאֻם-יְהוָה; וְאֶל-זֶה אַבִּיט--אֶל-עָנִי וּנְכֵה-רוּחַ, וְחָרֵד עַל-דְּבָרִי. ג שׁוֹחֵט הַשּׁוֹר מַכֵּה-אִישׁ, זוֹבֵחַ הַשֶּׂה עֹרֵף כֶּלֶב, מַעֲלֵה מִנְחָה דַּם-חֲזִיר, מַזְכִּיר לְבֹנָה מְבָרֵךְ אָוֶן--גַּם-הֵמָּה, בָּחֲרוּ בְּדַרְכֵיהֶם, וּבְשִׁקּוּצֵיהֶם, נַפְשָׁם חָפֵצָה. ד גַּם-אֲנִי אֶבְחַר בְּתַעֲלֻלֵיהֶם, וּמְגוּרֹתָם אָבִיא לָהֶם--יַעַן קָרָאתִי וְאֵין עוֹנֶה, דִּבַּרְתִּי וְלֹא שָׁמֵעוּ; וַיַּעֲשׂוּ הָרַע בְּעֵינַי, וּבַאֲשֶׁר לֹא-חָפַצְתִּי בָּחָרוּ. {ס}

ה שִׁמְעוּ, דְּבַר-יְהוָה, הַחֲרֵדִים, אֶל-דְּבָרוֹ; אָמְרוּ אֲחֵיכֶם שֹׂנְאֵיכֶם מְנַדֵּיכֶם, לְמַעַן שְׁמִי יִכְבַּד יְהוָה--וְנִרְאֶה בְשִׂמְחַתְכֶם, וְהֵם יֵבֹשׁוּ. ו קוֹל שָׁאוֹן מֵעִיר, קוֹל מֵהֵיכָל; קוֹל יְהוָה, מְשַׁלֵּם גְּמוּל לְאֹיְבָיו. ז בְּטֶרֶם תָּחִיל, יָלָדָה; בְּטֶרֶם יָבוֹא חֵבֶל לָהּ, וְהִמְלִיטָה זָכָר. ח מִי-שָׁמַע כָּזֹאת, מִי רָאָה כָּאֵלֶּה--הֲיוּחַל אֶרֶץ בְּיוֹם אֶחָד, אִם-יִוָּלֵד גּוֹי פַּעַם אֶחָת: כִּי-חָלָה גַּם-יָלְדָה צִיּוֹן, אֶת-בָּנֶיהָ. ט הַאֲנִי אַשְׁבִּיר וְלֹא אוֹלִיד, יֹאמַר יְהוָה; אִם-אֲנִי הַמּוֹלִיד וְעָצַרְתִּי, אָמַר אֱלֹהָיִךְ. {ס}

י שִׂמְחוּ אֶת-יְרוּשָׁלִַם וְגִילוּ בָהּ, כָּל-אֹהֲבֶיהָ; שִׂישׂוּ אִתָּהּ מָשׂוֹשׂ, כָּל-הַמִּתְאַבְּלִים עָלֶיהָ. יא לְמַעַן תִּינְקוּ וּשְׂבַעְתֶּם, מִשֹּׁד תַּנְחֻמֶיהָ; לְמַעַן תָּמֹצּוּ וְהִתְעַנַּגְתֶּם, מִזִּיז כְּבוֹדָהּ. {ס}

יב כִּי-כֹה אָמַר יְהוָה, הִנְנִי נֹטֶה-אֵלֶיהָ כְּנָהָר שָׁלוֹם וּכְנַחַל שׁוֹטֵף כְּבוֹד גּוֹיִם--וִינַקְתֶּם; עַל-צַד, תִּנָּשֵׂאוּ, וְעַל-בִּרְכַּיִם, תְּשָׁעֳשָׁעוּ. יג כְּאִישׁ, אֲשֶׁר אִמּוֹ תְּנַחֲמֶנּוּ--כֵּן אָנֹכִי אֲנַחֶמְכֶם, וּבִירוּשָׁלִַם תְּנֻחָמוּ. יד וּרְאִיתֶם וְשָׂשׂ לִבְּכֶם, וְעַצְמוֹתֵיכֶם כַּדֶּשֶׁא תִפְרַחְנָה; וְנוֹדְעָה יַד-יְהוָה אֶת-עֲבָדָיו, וְזָעַם אֶת-אֹיְבָיו. {ס}

טו כִּי-הִנֵּה יְהוָה בָּאֵשׁ יָבוֹא, וְכַסּוּפָה מַרְכְּבֹתָיו--לְהָשִׁיב בְּחֵמָה אַפּוֹ, וְגַעֲרָתוֹ בְּלַהֲבֵי-אֵשׁ. טז כִּי בָאֵשׁ יְהוָה נִשְׁפָּט, וּבְחַרְבּוֹ אֶת-כָּל-בָּשָׂר; וְרַבּוּ, חַלְלֵי יְהוָה. יז הַמִּתְקַדְּשִׁים וְהַמִּטַּהֲרִים אֶל-הַגַּנּוֹת, אַחַר אחד (אַחַת) בַּתָּוֶךְ, אֹכְלֵי בְּשַׂר הַחֲזִיר, וְהַשֶּׁקֶץ וְהָעַכְבָּר--יַחְדָּו יָסֻפוּ, נְאֻם-יְהוָה. יח וְאָנֹכִי, מַעֲשֵׂיהֶם וּמַחְשְׁבֹתֵיהֶם--בָּאָה, לְקַבֵּץ אֶת-כָּל-הַגּוֹיִם וְהַלְּשֹׁנוֹת; וּבָאוּ, וְרָאוּ אֶת-כְּבוֹדִי. יט וְשַׂמְתִּי בָהֶם אוֹת, וְשִׁלַּחְתִּי מֵהֶם פְּלֵיטִים אֶל-הַגּוֹיִם תַּרְשִׁישׁ פּוּל וְלוּד מֹשְׁכֵי קֶשֶׁת--תֻּבַל וְיָוָן: הָאִיִּים הָרְחֹקִים, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-שָׁמְעוּ אֶת-שִׁמְעִי וְלֹא-רָאוּ אֶת-כְּבוֹדִי--וְהִגִּידוּ אֶת-כְּבוֹדִי, בַּגּוֹיִם. כ וְהֵבִיאוּ אֶת-כָּל-אֲחֵיכֶם מִכָּל-הַגּוֹיִם מִנְחָה לַיהוָה בַּסּוּסִים וּבָרֶכֶב וּבַצַּבִּים וּבַפְּרָדִים וּבַכִּרְכָּרוֹת, עַל הַר קָדְשִׁי יְרוּשָׁלִַם--אָמַר יְהוָה: כַּאֲשֶׁר יָבִיאוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת-הַמִּנְחָה בִּכְלִי טָהוֹר, בֵּית יְהוָה. כא וְגַם-מֵהֶם אֶקַּח לַכֹּהֲנִים לַלְוִיִּם, אָמַר יְהוָה. כב כִּי כַאֲשֶׁר הַשָּׁמַיִם הַחֲדָשִׁים וְהָאָרֶץ הַחֲדָשָׁה אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי עֹשֶׂה, עֹמְדִים לְפָנַי--נְאֻם-יְהוָה: כֵּן יַעֲמֹד זַרְעֲכֶם, וְשִׁמְכֶם. כג וְהָיָה, מִדֵּי-חֹדֶשׁ בְּחָדְשׁוֹ, וּמִדֵּי שַׁבָּת, בְּשַׁבַּתּוֹ; יָבוֹא כָל-בָּשָׂר לְהִשְׁתַּחֲו‍ֹת לְפָנַי, אָמַר יְהוָה. כד וְיָצְאוּ וְרָאוּ--בְּפִגְרֵי הָאֲנָשִׁים, הַפֹּשְׁעִים בִּי: כִּי תוֹלַעְתָּם לֹא תָמוּת, וְאִשָּׁם לֹא תִכְבֶּה, וְהָיוּ דֵרָאוֹן, לְכָל-בָּשָׂר.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger VinceP1974 said...

It doesn't surprise me that Shas has no princples.

Back in the 1990s I would get the daily Arutz 7 news letter, and if memory serves back then they were in the posituion they were in now,, they could bring down the govt... but they kept playing games of brinkmanship... I forget who was PM and what the issues were. but it was the same game.

At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I forget who was PM and what the issues were. but it was the same game."
The name of the PM was Rabin.

The issue was Oslo.

And here we still are!

At 1:30 PM, Blogger VinceP1974 said...

You might be right about their involvement in the Oslo years (early 90s) but my memory is of the late 90s.

So I guess Shas's entire past 20 year history has been whoring out the security of the state for money for its agenda.

At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vince, your last post's second paragraph compliments its first paragraph.

After Rabin, there was Peres, then BiBi, then Barak, then Sharon, then Olmer.

Consistant whoring throughout each PM's term in office.

At 6:45 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


Do you live in Israel?

I think the country is lacking in ahavat Yisrael. Very lacking.

What's going on today in Sderot is perhaps the strongest symptom of it. If that were Tel Aviv, we would be at war now.


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