Deri: I Knew about the Video for Years

Resigned Shas chairman says Eli Yishai played the tape in which Rabbi Ovadia Yosef slams him to several rabbis a month ago.

Yishai Karov, Gil Ronen ,

Aryeh Deri
Aryeh Deri
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Aryeh Deri, who resigned a few days ago as chairman of the Shas party, but is widely expected to return to it soon, says he knew for years about the videotape in which Rabbi Ovadia Yosef uses harsh words to condemn him.

He learned of its precise content about a month ago, when MK Eli Yishai played the video to several rabbis, "but I did not imagine that the videotape would be leaked,” he told Channel 2.

Deri said that when he was told about the video, he was personally hurt, but chose not to respond. “I could have stood up that very night and refuted the tape but that was not the subject,” he explained.

"I am willing to have all of the mud hurled at me and I will not defend myself, because then I am entering the trap into which they wanted to place me," Deri insisted. "I know one thing, that I was not in the public service for many years, and Maran (Rabbi Ovadia) brought me back, and I merited to hold his hand in mine when his soul departed. He is my father and I accept him as he is.”

Regarding the content of the tape, Deri said: “One needs to understand Maran's style. That is the language he uses when he is told 'Aryeh Deri says there are sorcerers.' I grew up with him since age 16.”

Deri claimed that during the funeral and the shiva days of mourning for the rabbi, it was Rabbi Yosef's family that did not want to let Eli Yishai deliver a eulogy. “I forced them to seat him at the table of honor,” he added.

The recordings on the tape are from a meeting held in 2008 between Rabbi Yosef and several members of his inner circle, including his top aide Tzvi Hakak.

In it, Rabbi Yosef refers to the possibility floated by some Shas members of Deri making a comeback following several years in the political wilderness, after being jailed for corruption in 1999. "Anyone who suggests that isn't just wrong, he's a fool... 30%-40% (of Shas supporters) will leave us," the rabbi says.

"They judged him in court - why take someone who is a thief?" the agitated Rabbi Yosef asks Hakak. "Why would you take someone who accepts bribes?"

Addressing Deri's respect for Rabbi Yosef's authority, or lack thereof, the rabbi added: "I know from past experience, Aryeh is too independent. A number of times I have spoken with him - he didn't want to listen."

At one point he even refers to Deri as a "rasha," or wicked person, when relating Deri's ouster of a family member from a particular position within Shas. "Your mother cried tears," he related. If he wanted to run a party, suggests Rabbi Yosef, "let them make him his own party... I won't betray Eli Yishai."



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