After Split With Shas, Yishai Releases 'Doomsday Weapon' Tape on Deri

In recording leaked to press, founder of Shas Rabbi Ovadia Yosef can be heard harshly attacking party chairman Aryeh Deri.

Yair Ettinger
Yair Ettinger
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Aryeh Deri, right, with his mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Aryeh Deri, right, with his mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.Credit: BHOL B'Hadrei Hadarim
Yair Ettinger
Yair Ettinger

Eli Yishai released his "doomsday weapon" in the fight with his former party Shas on Sunday. Now heading the new Yahad-Ha’am Itanu party, Yishai released tapes of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the founder and spiritual leader of Shas, which reveal that Yosef only replaced the loyal Yishai as Shas leader as a result of heavy pressure on the rabbi.

In a clip from 2008, reported by Amit Segal of Channel 2, Yosef can be heard harshly attacking party chairman Aryeh Deri: “Thirty, 40 percent will run away from us. Why? Since the court judged him. Why did you take a thief? Why did you take a bribe taker? Thirty to 40 percent will not remain, then they will flee us. Why? Why should we do that? No one has anything on Yishai,” said Yosef to his confidantes, also calling Deri "too independent” and stating Deri not listen to him. Yosef also said Deri would betray Yishai.

Yishai reportedly turned the tapes over to Channel 2 news in an attempt to weaken the authority of Deri as Yosef’s successor.

In the film clip alongside Yosef are his son Moshe Yosef, his wife Yehudit and his personal aide Zvi Hakak. Yosef said “no” when asked whether he wanted to bring back Yishai during the summer. “How can I betray him after he followed me in everything, to deny him? I know from past experience, he is too independent. That’s not evil?” he asked his son about Deri.

Yosef also said about Deri: “Take a different party, make a different movement. What do I care? He can form a new movement."

In one section, Yosef relates to his dismissal of Deri after the 1999 election. “What can be done, to leave 17 MKs without a shepherd? We must make someone the chairman. I decided that. If there is no one then someone must lead them. Do I have time to deal with 17 MKs?”

Deri said in response to the reports of the tapes: “In these days when the public expects unity, the man who calls himself ‘faithful’ chose to release tapes in which he recorded [Yosef] in the darkness like the worst of the subversives, and exploited the trust placed in him by [Yosef]. Mr. Yishai is trampling the honor of [Yosef] only for his petty personal interests, and has proved that. Even in his lifetime he betrayed the trust the rabbi placed in him.”

Labor officials query new name

In other political news, the Israeli Peace NGO Forum is urging Labor Party chairman Isaac Herzog to change the name of its joint list with Hatnuah, saying the new name, the Zionist Camp, excludes Israeli Arabs and deepens their alienation from the political system.

In its letter to Herzog, it called the choice of name “unfortunate.”

“It isn’t too late to change this name to one along the lines of ‘the Israeli Camp’ or ‘the Civil Camp,’” said the letter, written by Mossi Raz and Dan Jacobson on behalf of the forum. “Such alternative branding does not contradict any Zionist principle. A message is urgently needed to the Arab (and Jewish) population that you see all Israeli citizens as totally equal and legitimate partners for a blocking majority, and even as members of the coalition to be formed by you.”

Labor Party officials said Sunday that “the Zionist Camp” was a temporary name that would soon be replaced by a permanent one.

Landau 'moves on'

Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beiteinu) announced Sunday that he will not seek re-election in the upcoming election, saying “it’s time to move on, away from the parliamentary system.” Landau, 71, was first elected to the Knesset as a Likud MK in 1984, and served in a variety of ministerial posts. He was fired by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in October 2004. In 2008 Landau left Likud and joined Yisrael Beiteinu.

Yisrael Beiteinu leader Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday that “Uzi Landau was a member and senior minister of Yisrael Beiteinu in the last six years, and I had the privilege and honor of working with him. He personified the glory of the Beitar movement and contributed for many years to the State of Israel through prolific public activity. We will continue to use his advice and his great experience in the future, and he will continue to accompany Yisrael Beiteinu in the next election.”

Walla editor joins Bennett

Habayit Hayehudi party members are unhappy about the reservation of a slot on its Knesset list for the editor in chief of the Walla! website, Yinon Magal, who joined the party slate Sunday. On Saturday, the Channel 10 program “Hamateh” reported that a slot was reserved for him and he would not contend in the party primaries.

Avichai Rontzki, a former chief military rabbi and a close associate of Bennett, told Haaretz that “Magal is an excellent individual who is connected to faith.” But Rontzki said he was not certain Magal will bring along the votes that would justify a reserved slot.

Magal, 45, served as a reporter on Army Radio and Channel 10 News and later was appointed presenter of the Mabat evening news show on Channel 1. As editor of Walla! during the fighting in Gaza he initiated the “Israel First” campaign.

Magal joins a number of candidates who are expected to compete for places on Habayit Hayehudi’s slate in the approaching election, among them Rontzki, former Im Tirtzu chairman Ronen Shoval, and former Yesha Council chairman Danny Dayan. Also vying for spots are Eli Ben Dahan, Bennett’s deputy at the Religious Services Ministry, who moved from the Tekuma party to Habayit Hayehudi, Professor Asher Cohen of Bar-Ilan University, former Bennett adviser Raz Kiel, and Sofia Ron-Moriah, a journalist with Makor Rishon, a newspaper with a substantial religious readership.

The party’s primary election is expected to be held on January 14. Bennett has the authority to reserve slots for candidates of his choice through the 15th place on the list.

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