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Shas

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Shas

Rabi Ovadia Yosef

The principal spiritual leader of the party (who is not a member of the keneset, and controls the party from the outside) is the renowned halakhic authority Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef. The Israeli government's refusal to extend Rabbi Yosef's term as Sephardic Chief Rabbi (Rishon Letzion) had been one of the main reasons for the Shas party's establishment.

Eli Yishai
Shas Party Chairman


Eliyahu Yishai was born in Jerusalem in 1963.

Following army service, he served as head of the Interior Minister's bureau, and since 1991 has been acting Secretary General of Shas. He also serves as Director General of the Shas-affiliated "El ha-Ma'ayan" movement.

Yishai served as Minister of Labor and Social Affairs from June 1996-July 1999.

In July 1999 he was re-appointed Minister of Labor and Social Affairs.

He is married and has four children.

Number of sits in this Keneset: 11, Number of sits in Former Keneset: 17

Background:

Shas began as a local municipal list in Jerusalem in 1984. The name is an acronym for Sephardi Torah Guardians. It soon developed into a fully-fledged national political party, albeit construed as a Sephardic appendage to an ultra-orthodox Ashkenazic bloc.

Aryeh Deri, then a 25-year-old yeshiva student, and Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, former Sephardi chief rabbi and preeminent scholar in the Sephardi religious world, teamed up in an effort to create a political force that would represent all Sephardim in the country. Although pollsters gave the new party little hope, it won four seats in the Knesset that year, until the last elections it grew bigger every year, reaching as many as 17 Keneset members and becoming the third large party in Israel in 1999.

Shas appeals not only to ultra-Orthodox Sephardim but to non-Orthodox Sephardim as well. For many Sephardim, arrival in Israel had left them facing a tragic contradiction: they had come to Israel because of a religious imperative to settle in Zion, but on arriving their religion was threatened by an Ashkenazi establishment insensitive to their traditions and beliefs. Fifty years after the creation of the state, many still find themselves on the margins of Israeli society, and feel excluded from the mainstream Israeli experience -- an experience many of them, especially those who vote for Shas, see as being largely Ashkenazi. Shas has successfully tapped into this sense of economic and cultural deprivation, offering these people a prescription of religious faith, ethnic pride, and social sensitivity.

Shas has filled the welfare vacuum created by years of government neglect, and because unlike other parties, its activists work with their constituents on a daily basis, not just when elections roll around.

One cornerstone of its work is its ever-expanding education network, which has made deep inroads among non-Orthodox Sephardim. Through its role in coalition politics for the past decade, it has directed government funding into day-care centers, kindergartens and elementary schools, youth clubs and yeshivas around the country.

From the start Shas had three main policy planks: Torah-observant Judaism; a strong social welfare program; and affirmation of the specific rights of Sephardic and Mizrachic (Oriental) Jews. Shas succeeded in galvanizing the Oriental vote, where other groups had failed.

In June 1999 Shas gained its most influential place in Israeli politics, partly due to the change in the voting system, which allowed voters to vote for a party and a prime minister in two different votes. Shas added seven seats to its Knesset tally. With 17 seats it was just two behind Likud. After exhaustive negotiations it entered the Barak government and received five ministries.

It is a moot point to ask whether Shas primarily asserts Sephardic identity, or expresses religious zeal. Certainly, most of its voters, as opposed to its leaders, are traditionally observant rather than ultra-Orthodox.

In the 2003 elections, Shas went down to 11 Keneset members only, partially due to the change in the voting system, that allowed voting only to a party, and caused the movement of many of their voters to the Likud.

Shas in a party of many contradictions:

Religious Pluralism: in Shas, the observant and non-observant share a common reverence for the Judaic heritage and a determination that Israeli society must remain rooted in the Jewish tradition, broadly conceived. But the acceptance of a spectrum of patterns of observance does not translate into flexibility on the issue of religious pluralism. Shas has sided with other Orthodox parties in support of legislation that, in effect, delegitimizes Conservative and Reform Judaism. It has displayed an ambivalent relationship toward Zionism, the Jewish State, and its institutions. "In the battle between the Orthodox and non-Orthodox over the issue of religious pluralism," Shas has played a leading hard-line role, trying to limit any official recognition of Conservative and Reform movements in Israel.

Peace Process: on the one hand Shas has been a force for moderation in regard to the peace process. Deri was a key player in the Oslo Accords signed with the Palestinians, and one of rabbi Aovadya Yosefs greatest political impact was his announcement in the late 1970's, repeated in 1989, that parts of the Land of Israel could be returned to the Arabs in exchange for peace. He has also supported territorial compromise on the Golan Heights. At the same time, he is no liberal, having referred to Arabs as 'a cruel enemy' and as 'beasts of prey.'"

Zionism:unlike Agudat Israel (Ashkenazi, haredi party), Shas saw no contradiction between its religious beliefs and Zionism. It was far more anti-Arab than Agudat Israel and sought increased representation for its adherents in all government bodies, in Zionist institutions, and in the Jewish Agency. But still Shas sees Israel primarily as a Jewish state, that should be run according to the rules of the Torah and not in a democratic way. Shas also oppose the drafting of ultra orthodox to the army, even though many of its voters, who are not ultra orthodox, serve in the army.

The Basic Principles of The Party:

To develop the traditional Jewish principles of the haredim in Israel.

To encourage the existence of the Torah's Mitzvoth in Eretz Yisrael
according to halacha.

The Party will be lead by the council of Torah sages.


Security and Foreign Affairs

Flexible on the issue of land for peace. Its support for any government will be dependent on the Jewish nature" of that government

They believe that when the Messiah comes the Holy land of Israel will automatically return to its rightful owners.

Jerusalem

Opposes all division of Jerusalem, Palestinian or 3rd party sovereignty over the Temple Mount.

Palestinian Issue

Supports autonomy for Palestinians, but opposes a Palestinian state.

Settlements

In the past Yossef has said that territories can be given up "if the heads and commanders of the army, together with the members of the government, determine that it will save lives." More recently settlers have been exalted and glorified.


State and Religion

To represent the public that keeps the Torah and Mitzvoth and to prevent discrimination against the Haredi community in Israel.

To protect Sephardi Jews, to educate its children in the spirit of the Sephardi heritage.

To develop a love for Israel, the keeping of Torah and Mitzvoth according Halacha.

To work for legislation in the word of the Torah and Halacha.

To work towards religious Haredi education in Israel and to develop Haredi educational centers, synagogues, Mikvot and Yeshivot.

To do all that is possible to increase the services to the religious Haredi community.

To solve in the spirit of the heritage of Sephardi Jews all questions that arises in public life in Israel.

To combat the anti-Semitism of Shinui and Meretz

Pluralism

The party promotes itself as an alternative to elitist Ashkenazic elements in Israeli society.

Wants exemption from the army for almost all Yeshiva students, no transport on Shabbat, a ban on abortion, an introduction of orthodox practices in secular school system, and the amendment of the Law of Return.

Shas hopes to encourage the existence of the Torah's Mitzvoth in Eretz Yisrael according to halacha. The Party will be lead by the council of Torah sages.

Shas supports the religious status quo, but would like to see a "Jewish state in every way".

Believes all governmental policies should be based on strict Jewish law.

Social / Economic Policy

Major concern is the preservation of the ultra-orthodox school system.

Shas draws its primary support from the lower socioeconomic level of society.

Shas card

A Jewish State Vs. state for all citizens.

Defiantly a Jewish state. Preferably a state that is conducted according to the Jewish Halacha. Doesnt have to be a democratic state, but a state run by the sages and the Rabbis.

Separate state & Church

(Synagogue)

No way. On the contrary, the state should be much more connected to the Jewish Halacha.

One of Shass main goals is to work for legislation in the word of the Torah and Halacha. They wish to solve in the spirit of the heritage of Sephardi Jews all questions that arises in public life in Israel.

Shas hopes to encourage the existence of the Torah's Mitzvoth in Eretz Yisrael according to halacha. The Party is lead by the council of Torah sages, and this is the way they wish the country to be led as well.

Shas supports the religious status quo, but would like to see a "Jewish state in every way".

Believes all governmental policies should be based on strict Jewish law.

Settlements dismantling

Shas is flexible on the issue of land for peace. Its support for any government will be dependent on the Jewish nature" of that government much more than on its approach to the question of dismantling settlements.

In the past Rabbi Yossef has said that territories can be given up "if the heads and commanders of the army, together with the members of the government, determine that it will save lives." More recently settlers have been exalted and glorified.

They believe that when the Messiah comes the Holy land of Israel will automatically return to its rightful owners.

At the same time, Shas opposes all division of Jerusalem, Palestinian or 3rd party sovereignty over the Temple Mount.

They Supports autonomy for Palestinians, but opposes a Palestinian state.

National Priorities

First and foremost the money should be directed to sepharadic haredi institutes and organizations. Schools, Mikves, Synagogues, Yeshivas and so on.

Shas wants exemption from the army for almost all Yeshiva students, no transport on Shabbat, a ban on abortion, an introduction of orthodox practices in secular school system, and the amendment of the Law of Return.



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