Eli Yishai splits from Shas to form new party
Former Shas chairman MK Eli Yishai announced his departure on Monday from the party he served for 30 years, and declared that he is establishing a political faction, called Maran, to run in the upcoming elections.Some new polls have suggested otherwise. In any case, certain Shas supporters from yeshivas did not take kindly to this departure, and disrupted the press conference:
At a press conference at the Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem and with an image of the revered former Shas spiritual leader, the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, at his side, Yishai, who predicted that his faction would secure 10 Knesset seats, declared that hundreds of thousands of people in the country would support his new party, whose name was oddly not announced.
“The people are with us, they want unity, they want to break down the walls between religious and nonreligious, between Sephardim and Ashkenazim,” said Yishai.
“The people want Torah, they want our traditions, Jewish values, decency and love of Israel. The nation wants true peace with our neighbors alongside love of the nation,” he continued, in a refrain designed to resonate with the national-religious community.
He insisted several times during his address that he is “leaving a party, but continuing the path of Maran [Yosef],” and took pains to point out that he is splitting from Shas to begin his own party with the blessing and support of Rabbi Meir Mazuz, a well-respected rabbinic figure in the Sephardi haredi world.
Securing the backing of Mazuz is an important step for Yishai in gaining legitimacy for his party and his decision to split from Shas in the eyes of the haredi community, although the weight of the four-member Council of Torah Sages – which includes one of Yosef’s sons – and the memory of Yosef himself, will be hard to overcome.
As the press conference was drawing to a close, several dozen Shas and Deri loyalists, mostly yeshiva students, laid siege to the conference room shouting “traitor” at Yishai, claiming that he was betraying Yosef and his wishes to preserve the unity of the Shas party.This is disturbing. Deri's claimed those hooligans don't speak for him, but the slapdash education they provide certainly led to this golem-like mentality.
Yishai was forced to cut short questions from the press, and his entourage extricated him from the room via a back door, as police personnel arrived at the scene to break up the disturbance.
In one especially poignant moment, a Deri loyalist grabbed hold of the picture of Yosef at the podium in a brief tussle with the Yishai activists at the event.
As noted, several hours after the press conference, polls show that Shas will be getting its numbers halved. And with their dismal platforms - to say nothing of Deri's own standings, that's why they deserve it.