Eli Yishai in Knesset
Eli Yishai in Knesset Israel news photo: Flash 90

In response to the demand by some reporters that he resign, Interior Minister Eli Yishai of Shas says they’re ignoring how he obtained 100 million shekels from the Finance Ministry for fire-fighting efforts.

Yishai defended himself in interviews with the media on Monday, saying, “I don’t know any other minister who fought for a particular issue more than I fought for fire-fighting. But even though I fight and succeed in getting a sum that no one ever was able to get – and I know that it’s still not enough – they continue to attack me.”

“It’s not the Israeli public that wants me to quit,” Yishai said, “but rather some reporters waging a media lynch against me… Eight years ago, I asked the government to renew the Israel Air Force's fire-fighting activities; all the ministers, except those of Shas, voted against.”

One interviewer baited him with the following question: “Why didn’t you cause a coalition crisis over it, just as Shas knows how to do on other issues?” His response: “I fought with all my strength; what more can be expected of a minister in Israel? I don’t expect compliments, but what is happening here is a lynch.”

Hareidi, Sephardic, Nationalist
Minister Yishai intimated that the attacks on him stem from his ethnic background, religious affiliation and personal views: “Someone wrote on the internet that the reason they picked on me is a combination of my Sephardic background, my nationalist views, and my hareidi-religiosity. This is a combination that people like to attack, whether the person is right or not. I don’t like speaking this way, but it does express the feelings of a large public. Any other minister who did what I did would have been praised for acting on time.”

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reports that the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews wanted to donate eight firetrucks to Israel, but that Minister Yishai refused to accept the donation because of the organization’s evangelical ties. In 2004, former Chief Rabbis Shapira and Eliyahu signed a religious ruling urging followers not to accept money from the IFCJ because of its ties to missionary groups who allegedly funded it.