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That thrilling, anti-elitist Shas campaign video

Israel/Palestine
on 26 Comments

Israel’s government entered into elections over serious matters (the economy, taxes, settlement policy, right-wingery), but the election season has been dominated by not so serious campaign ads. Just about every major party has produced some sort of satirical clip that would never air on U.S. television. While American ads go negative, Israel’s version of bashing an opponent’s record, or arrest history, is making fun of the other parties’ constituents.

Last week the religious right-wing group Shas posted a video on Facebook poking fun at Tel Aviv’s liberal elite. The joke is that liberals want too much of the cake. In vignettes they are shown kvetching over the difficulties of maintaining a middle class lifestyle, all the while ignoring the working class Israelis who serve them, and wash their cars and mop their floors. That’s where Shas comes in, “It’s not easy to be middle class,” says the video’s tagline. “But we at Shas are not worried about them. Our first concern will be the two million invisible Israelis living under the poverty line.”

The ad also hinted at racial and ethnic tensions: the workers are all Jews of color and the complainers are predominately white. The frankness is refreshing. Campaign ads do not usually call a spade a spade. All the way in upstate New York, Phil Weiss said he and a friend were “thrilled” by it; they read the ad as populist.

So exactly how will Shas support these “two million invisible Israelis living under the poverty line”? Historically Shas has built schools across Israel to serve underprivileged regions, predominantly inhabited by Mizrahim, Jews of Middle Eastern background. The parents of these schoolchildren comprise the Shas base. In fact Shas was the first Israeli political party to state outright they represent Mizrahim. When the group was founded in the 1980s, this was a breakaway from establishment politics, which were Ashkenazi-dominated. Moreover, the decade before income gaps between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim had grown. Shas entered the political field at a time when Mizrahim were not only underrepresented and underserved, but also really, left out of the whole Israeli landscape.

At that time the settlement movement was in its infancy. It would take another decade before Israel shut down its public housing program and shifted low-income housing over the Green Line or to areas of “demographic” consequence, e.g. “judaizing” areas where Arab-Palestinians have population strongholds. From the 1990s on, Shas straddled the issues of serving Israeli’s poor, traditionally a platform of the left, and funding Israel’s settlers, an issue of the right.

Never mind what Shas wants from government, which is religious law over all of the land of Israel and yes, social services for the poor. As far as a Palestinian state, or Palestinian national rights, they are totally opposed. Their last spiritual leader notably called for killing Arabs in 2010: “You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable.”

Shas is a religious party. Its leadership is almost entirely religious, its gives a special place to the directions of the chief Sephardi rabbi and its religious schools have been the source of its expanding voter base. But the party’s flexibility has been the key to its endurance. Half of its constituents are not observant and it’s been able to survive by making political compromises in order to secure a spot in whatever party rules the government.

 

 

 

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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26 Responses

  1. oldgeezer
    January 28, 2015, 5:00 pm

    I like the ad. Obviously can’t like the party but that’s another issue.

  2. just
    January 28, 2015, 5:27 pm

    “The ad also hinted at racial and ethnic tensions: the workers are all Jews of color and the complainers are predominately white. The frankness is refreshing.”

    Funny, I thought that all of the invisible and mistreated were Palestinian and an African refugee… turns out, not at all. Silly, silly me!

    “Never mind what Shas wants from government, which is religious law over all of the land of Israel and yes, social services for the poor. As far as a Palestinian state, or Palestinian national rights, they are totally opposed. Their last spiritual leader notably called for killing Arabs in 2010: “You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable.””

    So, Shas sucketh toward the indigenous people of Palestine and has some genocidal elements. Thanks, Allison.

  3. Giles
    January 28, 2015, 5:54 pm

    The ad also hinted at racial and ethnic tensions: the workers are all Jews of color and the complainers are predominately white. The frankness is refreshing.” Funny, I thought that all of the invisible and mistreated were Palestinian and an African refugee… turns out, not at all. Silly, silly me! –

    Yes silly you. You think that the Israeli elite can’t and don’t mistreat Palestinians , African Refugees, and Jews of color?

  4. a blah chick
    January 28, 2015, 9:27 pm

    The ad they ran in the last elections was interesting too. It showed a lovely blonde Russian woman, pregnant if I recall, about to marry her swarthy Mizrahi boyfriend. In front of them is a fax about to spit out her newly gotten Jewish bone fides. “You mean you are not Jewish?!” the poor confused man says. No, she wasn’t but she is now, with documentation newly acquired through paying the right rabbi. If you happen to catch it on the inter tubes look for the mobbed up brother in the wedding party.

    They had to pull that one because it upset the Ashkenazi elite.

    • JeffB
      January 28, 2015, 10:47 pm

      @Blah

      Here is the campaign ad: (commercial will play first)
      http://bcove.me/ui79zxrx

      Translation:
      Groom: “Marina, what is the fax for?”
      Bride: “Beytenu sent it, a wedding present.”
      Groom: “How nice of him. But what the hell – a fax?”
      Bride: “To receive “ishur” (certificate).”
      Groom: “’Ishur’ for what?”
      Bride: “From 1-800-convert.”
      Groom: “1-800-convert?”
      Bride: “Da, you call 1-800-convert and receive ‘ishur’.”
      Groom: “Wait, you aren’t Jewish?”
      Bride: “I am now!”

      IMHO easing the issue of conversion is a key component to not creating 2nd class citizens and fostering equality. It also creates a possible solution for at least some of the Palestinians. The two players in this were Naftali Bennett and Tzipi Livni to use an American expression a “reaching across the isle” law. Arye Deri (head of Shas) doesn’t care because his community doesn’t have a conversion problem. Though I really suspect it is the Israeli analogy of black on brown hostility.

      Deri is both a genuine populist though quite often in the negative resentments demagogue sort of way. That being said, he’s done wonders over the last few decades to help his minority achieve political equality. At this point I think Likud does a better job but but if I were a Mizrahi traditionalist as far as religion and not too educated I could easily see voting for him even though I consider him a demagogue.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 28, 2015, 11:03 pm

        how does anything in that ad also create “a possible solution for at least some of the Palestinians”?

  5. JeffB
    January 28, 2015, 11:15 pm

    @Annie

    how does anything in that ad also create “a possible solution for at least some of the Palestinians”?

    The ad is from 2013. I was saying the 2014 conversion law. What it does it creates the possibility for a lenient local judge to ease conversions for Palestinians who were interested. A Palestinian who converts would instantly become a Mizrahi Jew, there is nothing to fight about anymore.

    • Annie Robbins
      January 29, 2015, 1:10 am

      it creates the possibility for a lenient local judge to ease conversions for Palestinians who were interested.

      is this a personal theory of yours or do you have any source links.

      • JeffB
        January 29, 2015, 1:51 am

        @Annie

        is this a personal theory of yours or do you have any source links.

        Good summary of the law (rightwing newspaper however): http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Cabinet-approves-controversial-Jewish-conversion-law-making-system-more-accessible-380537

        Critical summary: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/15917

        If you mean applying it more broadly than to intermarried primarily Russians (i.e. to current Palestinians) I can point you to links regarding a desire for mass conversion but not this law in particular. Certainly those discussions mention the problem that the Chief Rabbi poses and so the connection is clear but it is mine.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 29, 2015, 2:56 am

        so your personal theory is that some law someday may segue with some lenient local judge that will “ease” conversions for palestinians. i think you’re wasting our time jeff.

      • RoHa
        January 29, 2015, 3:49 am

        I have previously suggested that one possibility is for all the Palestinians, and perhap some Jordanians as well, to convert to Judaism, make Aaliyah, set up a political party, gain control of the government, change all the laws privileging Jews, and then deconvert and become Muslims and Christians again.

        Perhaps this is what JeffB has in mind.

      • just
        January 29, 2015, 8:25 am

        Lehava will have fits!!!

        JeffB- are you seriously suggesting that Palestinians may have to leave their religion behind and convert to Judaism in order to become somewhat equal to the 2nd class Mizrahis? Haven’t they lost enough?

        wow.

      • bintbiba
        January 29, 2015, 12:04 pm

        I’m posting here as no reply button anywhere.
        ROHA,
        They won’t convert or ‘deconvert’ (“”) and they would never ever make PEACE or WAR by Deception. I do not speak as Christian, Moslem , or any religion whatsoever. I am an atheist.
        But anyone even considering such an eventuality would be plumbing the depths of dishonesty .
        Palestinians will just have to win their rights ,peace and justice fair and square.

      • RoHa
        January 29, 2015, 6:04 pm

        “They won’t convert or ‘reconvert’”

        I didn’t really expect they would.

        ” Palestinians will just have to win their rights ,peace and justice fair and square.”

        I would hope so. Trying to attain justice by unjust means sounds paradoxical. Discussion of the moral complexities would make up a fairly hefty issue of The Monist.

    • ziusudra
      January 29, 2015, 2:52 am

      Greetings JeffB,

      …. Right now there is a Judean (Jewish) oath citizenship & an Israeli citizenship & they aren’t quite the same……..

      And they aren’t quite rational either.
      The religious Clergy & the political Clergy are confusing themselves working 24/7/365 confusing Israeli Jewry. This is Cabalah, Cabalaher, Cabalaest for all the Cabalahim a la Motto, the more we churn & pump up de jam of Cabalah, the more we keep them all cabalahed. Chutzbah at its best.
      ziusudra
      PS Heard an original quip last week: a secular Jew! Wha’? I thought spewing out that i’m a lapsed catholic was good. I like secular catholic better. Now i shall look for a fitting ethnicity to combine my modernity. How about: an Italo-Greco tribesman now residing in Williamsburg, Bklyn? Well, at least i recognize ethnicity World Jewry is taught not to acknowledge it.

      • JeffB
        January 29, 2015, 9:25 am

        @Zisundra

        Dude, I’m an atheist Jew. My daughter’s boyfriend’s parents run their own little synagogue for about 200 people. While they would never call themselves this I think both of them are atheists: they believe in Judaism but not the ability of the Jewish God to affect material reality.

        Israel kind of solves the ethnicity problem for Jews. I don’t think it is true today but 100 years from now we will all have an ethnicity. Remember by 2100 according to trends 10m Jews in Israel, 3m Jews outside Israel (almost all America). I knew people who came over from Ukraine and Russia, they won’t. So I suspect my great grandchildren might say something like, “Oh I’m ethnically Israeli. I don’t practice the Israeli religion except a few times a year with family. My family came over from Ukraine and Russia 200 years ago but they were Israeli in Russia…”

    • eljay
      January 29, 2015, 7:55 am

      JeffBeee: … A Palestinian who converts would instantly become a Mizrahi Jew, there is nothing to fight about anymore.

      Equality in supremacist “Jewish State” isn’t based on religion…except for when it is.

      JeffBeee and DaBakreee are the Laurel and Hardy of Zio-supremacism.

  6. Marnie
    January 29, 2015, 12:49 am

    Annie –
    It doesn’t. Shas is only interested in Jews.

  7. Elliot
    January 29, 2015, 4:33 am

    “Shas has built schools”

    To clarify, it wasn’t Shas but the State of Israel that built those schools. The money was not private but public. In a system which is overtly sectarian in ways unimaginable in the United States, Shas positions itself as a remedy to the racist Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox system and the and mainstream secular or “state religious” schools. As a religious school system, Shas gets more hours of state-funded schooling per child than the comparable non-sectarian stream.

    • seafoid
      January 29, 2015, 4:55 am

      More hours of state funded schooling but less education

      • Elliot
        January 29, 2015, 8:34 am

        Plenty of state funded indoctrination goes on in public schools in the U.S. and elsewhere.

  8. JeffB
    January 29, 2015, 9:06 am

    @Just

    Lehava will have fits!!! are you seriously suggesting that Palestinians may have to leave their religion behind and convert to Judaism in order to become somewhat equal to the 2nd class Mizrahis? Haven’t they lost enough?

    I don’t think the Mizrahis are going to be 2nd class for much longer if they even are today. In the 1950s they had it bad. In the 1970s they had a lot of reasons for resentment. In the 1990s they were overcoming some of the last vestiges. In 2015 Mizrahis and Ashkenazi work together. Some of the most famous people in Israel are the mixed children. Young Israelis are mostly neither Mizrahi nor Ashkenazi. That’s what success looks like in beating racism when the racial categories cease to exist.

    As for Palestinians. For Palestinians to live their as equals they need to be Israelis. That means that they need to be social equal enough that they are producing mixed children with Jews. The Jewish state cannot have Islam as it exists today. Fundamental tenants of Islam contradict core ideology of Israel. Which means that Palestinians as people are going to need to believe in a religious acceptable to the state.

    The solution might be conversion to Judaism. The solution might be a Judaized form of Islam. The solution might be one of those forms of Islam potentially more compatible with Judaism like the Druze (though they current don’t accept converts) or Alawite (ironically enough) faith. I practice a form of Judaism which is essentially Jewish flavored Protestantism and thus I can be a fully integrated American. That’s why Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox, Reconstructionist… Judaism exists to be compatible with America. America can have groups like the Amish that aren’t really American but they couldn’t have 150m of them.

    So, no the Palestinians have not lost enough. To become Israelis they need to lose their entire or almost their entire national identity so that they can take on an Israeli national identity. That means they have to lose Arabic as a primary language. They have to lose their ties to foreign peoples that is identify with Israel in matters of foreign policy. To do that, they have to identify with Jewish and not Palestinian history. They have to lose most all of it.

    That’s a big ask. Jews certainly get that. The reason we got persecuted quite often if we refused to do it.

    If you want to see the moral case for the “why they should” from people you like go read the posts last week about French Jews. Read the arguments that people such as yourself were making about how French Jews needed to lose their Judean (Israeli) identify and be fully French and Netanyahu in even objecting to such a thing was totally immoral. Talk to that Just about it and just substitute

    Palestinian ~ French Jew
    Palestine ~ Judaea / Israel
    Islam ~ Judaism
    etc…

    If Palestinians are not going to merge ever then they need to move to a country compatible with their national identity: Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq… Israel is not in that list.

    I support a one state solution. But that state is Israel not Palestine.

    • Philemon
      January 30, 2015, 10:07 pm

      JeffB, I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, you are not right in the head. It’s very sad, because I don’t think anyone can help you, and you don’t see it yourself, obviously.

  9. seafoid
    January 29, 2015, 9:35 am

    That Shas video is shit. They play on anti elitism but the Jewish elite fund them to the hilt as Jews.They aren’t interested in social justice outside their own miserable tribe- their identity revolves around Torah and not being Palestinian.

  10. yonah fredman
    January 29, 2015, 5:25 pm

    Unlike the US two party system, where Obama must assert that he has the middle class in mind and Schumer attacks Obamacare as having helped the poor but done nothing for the middle class, Israel’s system has a party that aims its message at the poor. (There are advantages to a multiparty system, but disadvantages as well.)

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