An Open Letter to My Friend AryehDeriPublished on: January 14, 2013
An Open Letter to My Friend Aryeh Deri
I would like to tell you a few things openly so that the wider public is aware of them too.
I would like to begin by stating that I am proud of my party’s work throughout the years to resolve the question of the status of those who are “zera Yisrael” (have Jewish lineage) and to make them an integral part of the Jewish people by Jewish law.
You know that Yisrael Beytenu has never been a political party of the “Shinui” mold. We are not against Judaism. On the contrary, we stand for Judaism – for authentic Judaism, free of “wheeling and dealing” and abusers of power.
The community whom I represent came to this country in order to live in a Jewish state. Without Yisrael Beytenu, no one would take up the cause of the vast group of new immigrants who came to Israel under the “Law of Return” and because of their desire for a better life.
Yisrael Beyteu has worked for many years to resolve the status problems of some of these new immigrants through legislation and in keeping with Jewish law and authentic Judaism.
The “Conversion Law” proposed by Yisrael Beytenu, which you have discussed in interviews and attacked in your party’s degrading broadcast, was drafted together with the Sefardic Chief Rabbi and President of the High Rabbinic Court, Shlomo Amar. Indeed, Rav Amar’s signature graces the version of the law we presented to the Knesset plenum.
You must certainly be aware that HaRav Ovadia Yosef gave his blessing to our bill and MK David Rotem who drafted it.
Indeed, it is only right for you to lend your support to those who are working toward greater Jewish unity. We were pleased when Shas took part in this worthy effort. No election or number of votes at the polls can possibly be worth your renunciation of support on this issue, which could have been a great contribution to the Jewish people.
Regarding the civil union suggested by Yisrael Beytenu, it should be remembered that the concept was first suggested by the former Sefardic Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi Doron. He too was a chief rabbi who had the backing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. His proposal of a civil union was in keeping with Judaism and Jewish law.
Aryeh, my friend,
My colleagues and I do not reject anyone from being part of the government because of who they are. We certainly do not reject you or your colleagues. Just as I enjoy sitting and having a good, productive conversation with you, so too I have no difficulty in being part of the government coalition with you, as I have in the past.
However, there is no way I can overlook your party’s broadcast against us, which I call the “horror movie,” staring conversion as some kind of terrifying menace. Your broadcast insulted the honor and feelings of so many people. And I am insulted on their behalf. Such propaganda has no place in the public discourse, not even in the heat of an election season.
Certainly a man such as yourself knows that the Torah enjoins us no less than 36 times never to oppress the stranger in our midst.
In addition, I would like to say to you, as one seasoned politician to another, that I was taken aback by your public call on the prime minister to begin coalition negotiations before the elections. This amounts to no less than your preparing the ground for Shas to join Shelly Yechimovitch and the other left-wing parties in a bloc. Your public request that the prime minister begin coalition negotiations now was nothing more than the preparation of an alibi for when you start working against him. You want to be able to claim that the prime minister never answered your call to sit down and work out an agreement. But, you know full well that he will never agree to pre-election negotiations. No prime ministerial candidate has ever done such a thing.
I hope to continue this conversation, as is our wont, in a private meeting and in the spirit of friendship.