amselem - Alex Levac - November 29 2010
Amselem. At odds with Shas. Photo by Alex Levac
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MK Haim Amsalem, who has been at odds with the leadership of his Shas party for the last few months, accused the ultra-Orthodox faction Saturday night of turning a large populace of Israel's Sephardi sector into "anti-Zionists".

The rebel MK told an audience in the West Bank settlement of Beit El that Shas had lost the spirit of Eastern Jewry. He added the faction had begun to flex its opinions to be more in line with Ashkenazi rabbinical leaders who he claimed "carry no responsibility for what happens to the nation of Israel".

Amsalem reiterated during his speech on Saturday night his calls to ease the laws of conversion, and furthermore declared that the ultra-Orthodox population must enter the work force.

"How many Rabbi Ovadia [Yosef]s will there be?" he asked, in reference to the spiritual leader of the Shas party. "Just one in a generation. Everyone else can work.

Amsalem last year published a book in which he wrote "a proper conversion cannot be canceled even if the convert did not properly fulfill Jewish law". Amsalem says he received anonymous letters, phone calls and "hinted threats" aimed at pressuring him into not publishing the book.