Daily Israel Report

Warning to Shas: Jerusalem Has Already Been Given Away

A widely-disseminated pamphlet, devoted to getting Shas MKs to quit the gov't, says, "Olmert is using your presence to sell out Jerusalem."
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 2/18/2008, 12:44 PM

Yisrael Bordugo

A 4-page pamphlet distributed in synagogues around the country this past Sabbath is devoted to one topic: Getting Shas to quit the government. It warns that Olmert is using the continued presence of Shas in the government to formulate an agreement endangering Jerusalem, other areas of the land of Israel - and hundreds of thousands of Jews.

Shas chairman Eli Yeshai appeared to backtrack on previous promises to quit the government as soon as negotiations over Jerusalem begin.  On Monday, however, he changed "begin" to "continue."  Speaking before a Conference of Presidents audience in Jerusalem, Minister Yeshai said the final decision to quit or remain will be made by his party's rabbinical leaders, but "if negotiations on Jerusalem continue, Shas will immediately leave the government."

No address, organization or publisher is printed on the pamphlet calling upon Shas to leave.  However, it does feature a full-page article by Yossi Elituv, long-time Shas affairs commentator and writer for the weekly Mishpacha magazine.

The top article is headlined, "Israel has Secretly Agreed to Divide Jerusalem," and cites a PA source bragging that major progress has been made in "the secret talks, especially regarding Jerusalem."  The source said, "Today we can say that Israel is agreeable to withdraw from nearly all the Arab neighborhoods and villages in Jerusalem.  Israel is willing to re-divide Jerusalem, and this is a positive development."

Two other front-page stories remind readers - and Shas MKs - that Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, Israel's former Chief Rabbi, has stated his objections in the past to giving away Jerusalem and other areas.  "Don't Talk About Jerusalem," and "Giving Away Parts of our Holy Land Endangers Jewish Lives" are two of the Rabbi's quotes that are headlined.

Similarly, a recent decision by the Shas Council of Torah Sages, headed by Rabbi Yosef, is featured, with this headline: "Council of Torah Sages Rules: The Moment They Begin Talking About Jerusalem, Shas will Immediately Quit the Government."

"Olmert is Using You to Give Away Jerusalem"
Elituv's article, an open letter to the leaders of Shas, praises their governmental work on behalf of their constituents over the past two years - but then goes for the jugular:   

"This period has now ended. Your mandate is over. Shas must leave the government, simply because the Prime Minister has decided to take advantage of the time that is left until the coming elections to formulate an unreal and dangerous diplomatic agreement that has major and far-reaching concessions."

"Jerusalem is being torn to pieces, and all in the merit of the votes of the Shas Knesset Members.  We are talking about terrorist attacks against good Jews all over the country!  ... We are begging you!  What good will it do to get extra benefits for young Torah scholars, if those same Torah scholars won't return home one day because of a bomb on a bus?  And to have new positions for rabbis is truly very important - but what will be the point if the whole country turns into Sderot?"

"You said you would rush out of the government the moment they begin talking about Jerusalem.  Really now.  What do you think [Foreign Minister] Tzipi Livni and Abu Ala were talking about on the day that a terrorist blew himself up and murdered a woman in Dimona?  Do you think they were exchanging recipes for Hamentaschen [Purim pastries]?!  ... You well know that someone has sold Jerusalem at the same time he was selling you contradictory messages.  But you are addicted to the false sweetness of the illusion... Jerusalem is not 'about' to be put on the agenda; we're already in another phase: Jerusalem has already been sold out!"

"Olmert is speaking to you in two voices, without even clearing his throat in between: On the one hand, he freezes construction in Jerusalem, and with the other he enwraps you with embraces of promises.  With one voice, he calls rabbis and swears allegiance to Jerusalem, and with the other voice, he calls his clerks and instructs them to stop every project, to strangle the city, and bring down the hareidi cities. All the neighborhoods that were built past the '67 borders have been arbitrarily and unforgivably frozen.  His hand did not tremble when he signed away our normal lives here... He is busy fooling you with smiles and stories of heroism, while you debate him about the precise definition of 'talking' about Jerusalem...  How can you remain partners in a government that is willing to trade Jerusalem neighborhoods and is willing to abandon the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jews? You don't have to be a Gush Emunim refugee or a Complete Land of Israel Movement supporter to be devastated at what is happening..."

"How noble it would be if you would quit now, in an honorable manner.  You can tell about your fine achievements of the past two years... and explain that the time has now come to leave... The train is hurtling towards an abyss, but you have the chance to jump out before it crashes.  There must be some red lines that will get you out - and those red lines have already been crossed.  Your four Cabinet ministers are a source of pride; Yeshai, Attias, Nahari and Cohen can tell us what they have done, collectively and individually, for the People of Israel. We believe you that you have accomplished much.  But now, please make a courageous decision and change the tune."

Other stories in the pamphlet talk about the negative impact of the construction freeze in Beitar Illit, and its impact on poverty, apartment prices, and population decrease in Jerusalem.  A map shows the various Jerusalem neighborhoods that will come into range of rockets of varying ranges, while another headline states that an overwhelming majority of Shas voters want their party to quit the government now.

Finally, former IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon is quoted as saying, "You have to be blind to think that if we give the [Arab] neighborhoods to the Arabs, that this will bring quiet to Israel.  Giving up these neighborhoods means that the Knesset, nurseries, the university and the Western Wall will all come into Kassam rocket range."