'Synagogue destruction is a mark of Cain on the government'

Yachad head Yishai details how religious MKs can stop the 'desecration of G-d's name' but are not doing so, promises elections return.

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Eliran Aharon,

Eli Yishai
Eli Yishai
Hadas Parush/Flash 90

Yachad party chairperson Eli Yishai spoke to Arutz Sheva about the impending destruction of Ayelet Hashahar Synagogue in Givat Ze'ev to the northwest of Jerusalem, and condemned the lack of action by the government to prevent the "desecration of G-d's name."

Yishai spoke of the "great pain" he witnessed while joining the protesters at the synagogue.

"You see the young boys and girls, it doesn't matter whether they're religious or not religious, all of them are crying, and it breaks your heart.

"How is it even conceivable that in the state of the Jews, in the land of Israel, they're destroying a synagogue? It's inconceivable. And I don't accept any excuse because the (alleged Arab) land owner isn't present. Someone is petitioning in the name of the land owner."

"And lets say they decided 'okay, this is the land owner' - they still haven't found him, it's completely ridiculous - but let's assume they did," he posed. "The government needs to immediately decide to allocate land with the Givat Ze'ev regional council, and fund it, and they don't destroy until they build (a new synagogue) - that's also halakha (Jewish law)."

Synagogue members say they purchased the land legally, but while in the process of having its legal status clarified due to the lack of a building permit, radical leftist groups got involved and petitioned the High Court to issue a destruction order.

"What will the nations of the world say, when the Jews are destroying a synagogue? When has this happened? Where in the world - in the Arab states would the Muslims destroy a mosque? Would such a thing even be considered?"

"So if they want to honor the court order, that's fine," he said, but quoted halakha ruling that you don't destroy before you build a new synagogue. "Give some time, a year-and-a-half; I spoke with the defense minister around two years ago, and they actually delayed it a year-and-a-half."

"A mark of Cain"

He called on the regional council to allocate land and the government to allocate funding to build a new synagogue, "and we won't stand by for this disgrace, this great and awful desecration of G-d's name, that they're destroying a synagogue in the state of the Jews in the land of Israel."

Calling the destruction a "mark of Cain" on the government, Yishai turned his attention to the MKs who have not taken any action on the issue. Jewish Home chairperson Naftali Bennett this week warned police against refusing orders to destroy the synagogue, despite his own opposition to the move in principle.

"It's very strange to me that they're not doing anything, I call on the government to act and do something. Also in terms of construction, in Jerusalem they aren't building, there's a general (construction) freeze on the land. It's awful."

"The peak of course is the destruction of the synagogue. I think that the religious and haredi MKs in the government need to give the following message to the government: 'the regional council will allocate land, the government will allocate a budget, we demand from the government and the state attorney another year-and-a-half to two years.'"

"I have no doubt that the Supreme Court will accede to this request. They're waiting years, this has rolled around the courts for many years, it will be delayed two more years and we will avoid this disgrace."

The case of the synagogue demolition is made all the more hypocritical by the fact that the state and the courts have left hundreds of illegal mosques standing nationwide, and in many cases canceled demolition plans due to the "sensitive" religious nature of the buildings.

Yachad will be back

Yishai's Yachad party ran on a joint list with Otzma Yehudit in the last elections, and fell just short of the recently raised 3.25% threshold percentage.

When asked if he intends to run for the Knesset again, Yishai responded, "with G-d's help yes, I'm certain that such a great accomplishment as 160,000 votes (in the last elections) is no small feat."

He noted that the polls indicated Yachad gaining four to five mandates, explaining, "there were several issues here, there was roughly the highest threshold percentage ever - if it was half a percentage less we would have been in."

Yishai recalled how the raised percentage caused the Arab parties to unify, gaining 13 seats and becoming the third largest party, and also noted how Likud "legitimately" used the threat of Zionist Union's high poll numbers to pull right-wing votes.

However, he noted that the massive voter fraud campaign by Shas activists was not at all legitimate. Some activists were revealed to have subtly invalidated Yachad voting slips to steal the democratic rights of the party's voters nationwide.

"Regardless we are pulling together, working on the ground, and preparing, and intend with G-d's help to run in the future."

He noted that his current break from politics, which he didn't chose, has come with its own benefits, allowing him to spend more time with his family and revamp his plans for the future.