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Op-Ed: Aryeh Deri Should Not Be Head of Shas

He paid his debt to society in prison and is legally allowed to assume the position he was given, but it should not have been offered him, says the writer.
Published: Sunday, May 05, 2013 12:02 AM


Can a religious party have a convicted felon - one who was once convicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, as the head of its party? Could a “Council of Torah Sages” indeed say that Aryeh Deri is fit to lead their party?

Deri, who was convicted of bribery, was prohibited for seven years after the end of his prison sentence from being elected to the Knesset or serving as a public servant – and now the seven years are up, so he is back in the Knesset.

Shas is unsurpassed in the amount of leaders in their political party. who were indicted for breaking the law, from Rafael Pinhasi, Yair Levy, Ofer Hugi, and Yair Peretz, Shlomo Benizri to their new (returned) leader, Aryeh Deri.

Owning a PR agency, 5WPR,  I ask is it not horrifying that a man who was convicted of bribery is the leader of a major Israeli political party? Can anyone doubt that this makes Israel and the Sephardic religious Jewish community look bad? What an unwise Public Relations move to appoint a man like Deri to such a position. The man is seen as a political operator – and this move will draw more people to be antagonistic towards the religious community of Israel.

He will surely focus on opposing Netanyahu at all costs – regardless of what is right or wrong for Israel. Deri approved the dreadful Oslo peace process and is a dangerous man. Of course it could have even been worse, because if he hadn't gotten this position – he wanted to be Mayor of the most religious city on Earth, Jerusalem.

Wearing a kippa or sporting a beard is not enough to make one religious. Aryeh Deri brought shame to the State of Israel – and it is surely not fitting for him to be at the head of a  religious party.

Truly religious people have values and beliefs – a core value system which stands for something. Praying three times a day, wearing tefillin and tzitzit are not enough to make one truly religious.

Ronn Torossian is an entrepreneur.