Shas MK: Don’t Worry, We Will Survive Without Deri

December 31, 2014  

If the resignation of Aryeh Deri as head of Shas was undertaken to show how badly the party needs him, it isn’t working, at least as far as MK Nissim Ze’ev is concerned. Ze’ev, a charter member of Shas, said that the party existed and functioned before Deri, and it would continue to do so after Deri as well.

“The Jews will continue to live,” said Ze’ev, using a Talmudic phrase to describe his thoughts on Deri’s resignation. “We have had many leaders, and there will be others after Aryeh Deri. Our power is a spiritual power, not a political one.”

Ze’ev was responding to comments by Shas and Deri spokesperson Yaakov Bezalel, who on Wednesday circulated a letter among Shas members decrying Deri’s move. “Without Aryeh Deri there is no Shas,” he wrote. “By resigning, Aryeh Deri is sentencing hundreds of thousands of people to a fate in which no one will care about their needs.” Shas activists, he added, should drop everything and “work only to restore Aryeh Deri to Shas.”

That was unnecessary, said Ze’ev; if Deri had decided to quit, so be it. “We are not dependent on Aryeh Deri, but only on our rabbis,” he said. “Shas is not dependent on any political personalities. We are not like other parties. Of course we are sorry that he resigned and we are working to bring him back.”

On Tuesday, Deri submitted a letter of resignation to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud), after being discredited in video recordings released to the media showing Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef zt”l slamming Deri. In the recordings, Rabbi Yosef is seen in private meetings condemning Deri for his corruption that had him jailed in 1999 and explaining he didn’t want to reappoint him as head of Shas in place of Eli Yishai – and even going as far as to refer to him as “evil.” Another recording revealed that Deri and not Rabbi Yosef was responsible for Shas’s shift to the left and support for the 1993 Oslo Accords.

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