Daily Israel Report

Shas MK Calls Bayit Yehudi 'Reform'

In latest attack on the party, MK Yitzhak Cohen calls Bayit Yehudi party "reform," says their nationalism will lead country to "disaster."
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 11/5/2013, 6:05 PM

MK Yitzhak Cohen
MK Yitzhak Cohen
Flash 90

In the latest verbal attack by the Sephardic-hareidi Shas party, MK Yitzhak Cohen called the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party "reform" Jews Tuesday, going on to say that their nationalism will lead the country to "disaster."

In an interview on Galei Yisrael radio, Cohen accused Bayit Yehudi of ignoring a letter sent by Kiryat Arba Rabbi Dov Lior to MKs opposing a new conversion law. Cohen accused the party of following a rabbi when "it's convenient" and not following when it isn't, and said that such actions are "reform" - a reference to the Reform movement which denies the divine nature of the Torah.

Bayit Yehudi allowed the new conversion law to advance Sunday only with coordination and agreement on wording by Minister of Religious Affairs MK Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Bayit Yehudi), who must also reach an agreement with Chief Sephardi Rabbi Yitzhak Yoseph, the Justice Ministry and the Interior Ministry.

The Shas MK further accused Bayit Yehudi and the national religious movement in general of raising Yigal Amir, who murdered then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 in response to the Oslo Accords.

Cohen closed the interview with a barrage, saying to MK Shuli Muallem (Bayit Yehudi), who also appeared on the radio show, "your nationalism will bring the country to disaster, and we need to stop you before you make a disaster here."

Cohen has expressed similar sentiments in the past.

Back in May, Haaretz reported that Cohen sent a letter urging Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to adopt the "Arab League Peace Plan." The plan has been assessed as suicidal for Israel, requiring a "right of return" for "Palestinian refugees," and an Israeli return to the indefensible 1949 Armistice lines.

This recent spat is not the first in rising tensions between Shas and Bayit Yehudi.

In early October Rabbi Ben-Dahan complained that Shas leaders did not oppose his being verbally and physically abused during Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's funeral. 

Furthermore, in July a senior Shas leader, Rabbi Shalom Cohen, called religious Zionists "Amalek," traditional enemies of Israel who the Torah commands to wipe out.

The attack on Bayit Yehudi comes after MK Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) just last Friday decried the "smear campaign" launched against her party by various other parties, including the far-left HaTnua party, led by Justice Minister and chief negotiator with the PA Tzipi Livni.

"Smear campaign" notwithstanding, a poll released Tuesday showed that 88% of Bayit Yehudi's supporters back party leader Naftali Bennet's recent actions.

The poll also found 62% believed Bennett's version of the vote to release 26 terrorists last week, according to which the decision had already been made by Netanyahu before approaching Bennett. Only 15% believed the official version of events that Bennett voted for the release in exchange for continued building in Judea and Samaria.