Israeli election, view from a Shas driver’s seat
I put in an intense 48 hours during the Israel election,(1) first handling media issues then (2) as part of a team driving cross-city and cross-country to get stranded voters to their polling booths.
(1)Media issues: I became alerted to a last minute glitch from a letter in the Jerusalem Post by a floating voter who thought my arguments for voting for Shas were persuasive (I emphasized their accomplishments in education.)
But the letter writer changed his mind Mar.27 when he saw a headline that Rav Ovadia Yosef allegedly said those who did not vote for Shas would be cursed.
After obtaining a copy of the short notice that the Rav had sent to Sefardi yeshiva students who were going to sit out the election, I wrote the Post and they were very fair, printing my explanation the morning of the election.
Sir, – The latest election pronouncement of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual mentor of the Shas Party, was as American as motherhood and apple pie. He even mentioned, approvingly, the famous Yiddishe Mama.
He quoted the prophetess Deborah, whom the Bible terms “mother in Israel.” Deborah said that those who do not join in the fray and participate actively in national struggles are “cursed… for they failed to come to aid the nation of Hashem… against the mighty” (Judges 5:23).
Rabbi Yosef wrote a letter to Sephardi yeshiva boys who are passive or indifferent to the election, praising those who do go out and vote (for Shas, to be sure). He feels strongly that everyone should participate…This is Zionist activism.
If you want to see how hatred and derision contribute to a party’s downfall, see the nasty video on the Shinui anti-haredi party’s website. Shinui went from 15 Members of Knesset to zero now. Also, see some of the videos on the Meretz far-left party’s website where their mockery extends to the Western Wall, to rabbis, and others.
Click on “tashdirim” (broadcasts)
View the scenes at the Western Wall where a man prays at the Kotel that he be permitted to “wed” his boyfriend, and another titled “The rebbe told us” (to vote Meretz) showing 3 actors dressed as bearded rabbis doing the tango at the Kotel with young women. (Meretz declined from 5 to 4 seats).
(2)Driving: While Shas works all year long helping the those in need, they work especially hard on election day. I was called to help drive a dozen members of a Tel Aviv family sitting shiva in Netanya. They had to go to several different voting booths in Tel Aviv and received rabbinic permission to go vote and come back immediately to the house of mourning. Other typical cases- a mother needed a babysitter and a driver so she could leave the bedside of her son in Laniado Hospital, go across town to vote, and return to the hospital. A Laniado nurse needed to get back to her home out-of-town in time to vote. These missions also gave me a chance to meet the Shas constituents and appreciate the difficulties of their lives. I drove only a few missions, but other volunteers were on the road all day without stop.
Needless to say, I was glad to see that Shas increased its representation (from 10 to 13) so it is now the third largest party.
My comments, along with those of others, on the meaning of the election results, appear in the Jerusalem Post (RoshHodesh Nisan, Mar.30) in “What the elections mean – an array of views.”