The 11 Shas MKs, who are currently slated to vote for Shimon Peres, are likely to tip the scales in favor of Peres in next week's Presidential race. Heavy pressure is being brought to bear from various directions on Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef to change his mind and enable his party MKs to vote according to their own preference - and those of their voters.
At the same time, other groups, fearing that Peres will be elected President of Israel by the Knesset next week, are putting pressure on Rabbi Yosef to withdraw his support for Peres. Rabbi Yosef has all but instructed the 11 Shas MKs to vote for Peres next Wednesday. Shas chairman Minister Eli Yishai has already informed Peres of the decision.
The 120 Knesset Members will choose, in a secret ballot, from among three candidates: Vice Premier Peres, Likud MK Ruby Rivlin, and Labor MK Collette Avital. The voting will be held in more than one round, if necessary, until one candidate receives at least the votes of 61 MKs.
A group calling itself The Committee for Jewish Holiness has disseminated a poster in hareidi-religious neighborhoods, reminding MKs of anti-Jewish statements made by Peres and calling on them not to vote for him.
The poster reads:
Don't lend your hand to him who would assimilate the Nation of Israel!
Dear Knesset Member,
When you stand behind the curtain to vote for the president, remember the words of blasphemy that Shimon Peres has said. A sampling of quotes from his words:
- "What King David did was not Jewish." (Yediot Acharonot, Feb. 15, 1994)
- "Partitions between the Jewish Nation and the goyim must be eradicated." (UNESCO conference 1994)
- "There is nothing to be proud of in Jewish history." (UNESCO conference 1990)
- "Jewish youth must divorce our past." (UNESCO conference 1999)
- "The rabbis are deceivers." (Yediot Acharonot, April 15, 1990)
This Wednesday, you must proudly fulfill what it says in the Torah reading (Korach) of this week: 'Take leave of the tents of these evil people... lest you be destroyed as a result of their sins.'
Another famous Peres quote, not cited in the poster, is this from 1996, the day after he lost the national election to Binyamin Netanyahu:
Interviewer: What happened in these elections?
Peres: We lost.
Interviewer: Who is we?
Peres: We, that is the Israelis.
Interviewer: And who won?
Peres: All those who do not have an Israeli mentality.
Interviewer: And who are they?
Peres: Call it the Jews.
Peres also told the UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 1993, after the signing of the Oslo Accords, "As a Jew, may I say that the essence of our history since the times of Abraham and the commandments of Moses have been an uncompromising opposition to any form of occupation, of domination, of discrimination."
Likud and Parents
Pressure is also being exerted upon Rabbi Yosef from the Likud. Party leader Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to meet with the elderly rabbi in the latter's home in Har Nof, Jerusalem today (Wednesday). Yesterday, Likud MK Gideon Saar did the same.
A group of parents who lost sons during the Second Lebanon War have also asked Rabbi Yosef not to support Peres. They say that Peres, as the most veteran and experienced government minister, had it within his power to prevent or moderate some of the military activities in which their sons were killed.
Pollard: Electing Peres is a Death Sentence for Me
Most stinging of all in his criticism is Jonathan Pollard. In a statement from his jail cell in North Carolina, the incarcerated Israeli agent writes that electing Peres to the Presidency is tantamount to signing a death sentence for Pollard. He claims that Peres promised the Americans that he would help them prosecute Pollard, and even gave them the papers Pollard had provided Israel. Peres then lied, Pollard claims, in saying that he had secured a promise from the US not to use the papers to incriminate Pollard - and continues to lie now to protect his own career. "It's either Pollard or me," Peres has been quoted to Pollard as telling Israeli officials.
Parents of missing-in-action soldiers from the 1982 Peace for Galilee war have asked Prime Minister Olmert to withdraw his support for Peres. "If Peres becomes President," they write in a letter to Olmert, "we will no longer have an open door in the President's Home... Peres objected to raise the issue of the missing soldiers in Oslo Agreement discussions."
Yona Baumel, father of Zechariah, who has been missing since the Sultan Yaaqub battle in southern Lebanon, told Ynet, "Shimon Peres was never among those who tried to bring back the MIAs. He is therefore not worthy of representing the nation. In a few days it will be 25 years since they have been missing, and Peres did not do a thing."