Shas Members Berate Yishai For 'His Lies'

In a harsh letter sent by several Shas MKs to Eli Yishai, MKs criticize Yishai for his 'fabricated' claims against Aryeh Deri.

Cynthia Blank ,

Eli Yishai
Eli Yishai
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

A number of Shas MKs sent a harsh letter of indictment to Eli Yishai Wednesday night, accusing him of spreading rumors intended to damage Shas. 

Yishai, a former Shas Chairman who served as number two on the party list in the 19th Knesset, left the party officially on Monday, when he announced the formation of his new party called Yachad. 

The letter - signed by Nissim Ze'ev, Yaakov Marg, Avraham Michaeli, David Azoulay, Yitzhak Vaknin, Yitzhak Cohen, Meshulam Nahari, Amnon Cohen, and Yoav Ben-Tzur - argued that Yishai's claims against Shas were completely false. 

"It is not enough the disgusting way you left the movement, using the name of Maran [Shas founder and mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef] and causing a desecration of God," the letter reads, "but you add the sin of fabricating stories. It's a permanent libel, this lie. Let us be very clear." 

Yishai has claimed that throughout his tenure in Shas, there have been various attempts to split the party, and that Shas Chairman, and personal rival, Aryeh Deri banned party members from giving media interviews. 

In an interview with Israel Hayom on WednesdayYishai noted that he could have deposed Deri, saying "there were moments when they thought we were going for a move like that. Some of them thought to do that, but to come and take the Shas trademark and do something like that? These aren't tricks that I like to do, but it was possible. There were enough partners to do that process, but I didn't think it was right."

Knesset members stressed in their letter to Yishai that they had never participated in any attempt to split the movement and that Deri encourages people to give interviews - except on the movement's most important issues. 

Moreover, Shas members wrote that during Yishai's stint as chairman, they were not allowed to be interviewed at all, even about less important issues.

"Suffice it to say that this is the reason you removed Rabbi Haim Amsalem," they wrote.

Amsalem left Shas in 2010 after clashing with fellow MKs in the party, accusing Shas of abandoning its Sephardic roots and seeking to become a carbon-copy of the Ashkenazic hareidi United Torah Judaism party.

In particular, Amsalem drew hareidi ire for advocating for hareidi IDF enlistment and calling on hareidim to join the workforce, while still maintaining the values of Torah study and observance.

Sources close to Yishai responded to the letter by slamming Deri as a dictator: "I wonder if Deri threatened anyone who did not sign the letter with not being allowed to be part of the next Knesset." 

Despite the antagonistic back and forth between Yishai and Deri, recent polls show both parties should be worried. 

A survey on Tuesday found Yachad has split Shas's electoral power, with each party drawing four mandates. A senior Shas source told Arutz Sheva the party is in a tight spot, saying "at this pace we are liable to disappear from the political map."

Some Sephardic hareidi Rabbis and businessman have begun inquiring whether it is still possible for form a join list with Ashkenazic hareidi party United Torah Judaism.