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Friday, May 14, 2021 

Shas leader Aryeh Deri is to blame for the Meron tragedy

David Weinberg makes a very valid case against the chairman of the Haredi political party Shas:
The State of Israel long has faced an existential threat from Haredi separationist ideology. The tragedy in Meron, of which Haredi men were themselves the primary victims, is a painful demonstration of the dangers involved in continuing to ignore the roots of conflict between Israeli society and the Haredi public, and especially the rotten role of Haredi politicians in exacerbating the situation.

[...] Everybody knows that had Meron been treated like any other site of mass gathering, like a music concert, soccer game, or political rally, police safety regulations would have limited attendance to ten or twenty thousand people. Never would have 100,000 people been allowed into the site, not to mention the 250,000 worshippers and revelers who have attended in previous years.

But who is going to dare try to impose such restrictions upon powerful Haredi politicians and their belligerent, often-anti-Zionist, rabbinical masters?

Shas leader Aryeh Deri is the ultimate expression of pugnacious Haredi power
; a super-self-confidant politician who bulldozes overall legal, civic, and moral boundaries to "bolster" (read: enfeeble) his Haredi voting public. His brand of blithely sectorial, brusquely cynical politics is catastrophic.

Deri was one of the father figures of the Haredi world of dependency, of living off the dole. He was central to the creation of the all-encompassing government-support system for those studying in yeshiva; a system so comprehensive that it simply does not pay for a Kollel student to step out into the working world. He has never spoken positively about the higher education and professional training programs for the Ultra-Orthodox that have opened in recent years, nor has he said one word about the importance of increased participation of Haredi men in the army.

[...] Deri also was behind the infamous "Kochavit Giyur" (Dial-a-Conversion) advertising campaign that Shas ran in recent elections. This campaign smeared Russian immigrants as "counterfeit converts" and slandered Religious Zionist rabbis as liberal destroyers of conversion standards.

Deri spawned the failed "stinking maneuver" in 1990 which attempted to bring down the unity government led by Prime Minister Shamir and install a narrow Peres government instead. Then, Deri bought the Labor Party's support for the Haredi takeover of state religious enterprises (such as the Chief Rabbinate and religious courts) by backing the Oslo process – until the intifada made it too difficult for Shas voters to stomach this.

Deri will cut a deal with anyone of any background to get his candidate elected if it serves his momentary purpose – such as getting Moshe Lion elected as mayor Jerusalem. Deri collaborated with the oh-so-very-treif, staunchly anti-religious Russian party boss Avigdor Lieberman for this purpose.

I conjecture that Deri would sell every settler to the Saudis, twice over, if that were to earn Shas-affiliated schools a two percent budget increase
.

The fact that Deri has been caught in criminal violations more than once and gone to jail has not stopped him; nor the fact that once again today he is facing new criminal indictments. He brushes this off by presenting himself as a persecuted Dreyfus and wronged Demjanjuk rolled into one, and as a holy man whose concern for the poor will bring salvation to the downtrodden of Israel.

[...] According to Deri's longtime personal aide, Yosef Schwinger, Deri "fought like a lion" to have the event go ahead, despite Health Ministry warnings that it could be a coronavirus super-spreader event. (Guess what? Schwinger was appointed by Deri to lead the Religious Services Ministry's National Center for the Development of Holy Places, which has responsibility for Meron.) "Rabbi Deri deserves credit for saving the Lag BaOmer celebration from a more limited format," avowed Schwinger on the radio the day before the tragedy.
Deri practically boasted about it on radio, and now, his mistakes led to a horrific tragedy where 45 people were killed. This is a man who's practically got the Haredi society indoctrinated on socialism, among other terrible elements. And it's time already for him to resign, and take responsibility for his grave errors.

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