Waiting for the Lion to Roar

Eyal Megged
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Eyal Megged

Aryeh Deri is our last chance to be saved from the catastrophic influence of the darkness of Shas. It is even possible that his return to politics is the only good thing that can come out of the unnecessary election that has landed on us.

I don't know whether it is required that I mention the fact that in the past I impassioned masses of yeshiva students who supported Deri with a sermon in favor of religion and against secularism outside the walls of the Ma'asiyahu prison where Deri was incarcerated, when writing about his return to the party's leadership. At all events, I thought then, and I still think, sometimes with less enthusiasm and sometimes with more, that the secular culture in Israel is like a broken reed, while religion, despite its primitive and off-putting characteristics, offers a real culture for living.

This is why I attach such critical importance to religious politics and in particular what happens in Shas. This issue seems to me to be so fateful for our very existence here that I will admit that, were Deri to run for the premiership, I would not hesitate to vote for him. This is not merely because I would like to take revenge on the heartless Eli Yishai for being so cruel to the poor and miserable people, refugees from war and famine in Africa whose bad luck was that they were not Jews. And also not because I would like to see his downfall after he so brazenly cut short our days in the middle of autumn.

Not only emotional considerations are involved here, but rather, for the most part, considerations of a practical nature. Deri, in my opinion, is the last link capable of joining the religious and the secular. I would dare to say that his moderate and conciliatory leadership right now is more important even than a moderate and conciliatory Palestinian leadership, because the internal monster is more dangerous to us now than the external one.

My impression of Deri, also from direct contact with him, is that he is a sharp and wise man, a talmid hacham (Torah scholar ) who inspires people. His religious dimension is not dark like that of his successor, but rather is illuminated with a bright light in comparison. As far as I am able to judge, this is not in order to get something or to deceive.

There will be those who will say that the man is corrupt. To my way of thinking, he gave in to temptation once, fell into the trap of the system, stumbled but paid the full price. No hidden can of worms is trailing behind him, and certainly not in front of him, since he has certainly learned a lesson from the crime for which he was convicted.

Of all the disillusioning gallery of characters that will compete against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the upcoming election, it is only of Deri that it can be said that he is necessary. He is necessary in order to keep the balance that is being eroded in a terrifying way between the different parts of the nation. He is necessary for his ability to weigh things up and to maneuver, characteristics with which he was naturally blessed. Thanks to the cunning that he was endowed with, it will be possible to rely on him to know how to extricate us from security and diplomatic imbroglios better than any other statesman or person with security experience.

I am not at all convinced that my support for Deri will be beneficial to him in any way - on the contrary. As someone who used this forum to call for an end to the barbaric practice of circumcision, and who dared to compare the holocaust of animals to the Holocaust of the Jews, it seems to me that support from someone like me can only harm him, at least in his camp. But as someone who is hoping to be a national leader, Deri, I am sure, will know how to swerve between his various supporters. In that respect, it seems he has no equal.