|The Tzaddik, Arye Deri..|
The footage from 2008 aired by Channel 2, which shows Yosef calling Deri a thief and a bad man who did not listen to the rabbis instructions, could severely damage Shas’ political future, given that political legitimacy in the haredi world is largely based on rabbinic support.
The recent establishment of the new Yachad Ha’am Itanu party headed by Deri’s rival Eli Yishai has badly dented Shas’ standing in opinion polls and the latest revelations could further harm the party’s political fortunes.
The video aired by Channel 2 on Sunday night, showed Yosef in 2008 talking with his youngest son Moshe Yosef, Moshe’s wife Yehudit and Yosef’s personal assistant Tzvi Hakkak, when the seven year ban on Deri from elected office was coming to an end.
Deri, who was the former chair of the party until he was convicted on bribery charges and imprisoned for two years, was agitating at the time for a return to the party which had been led since 1999 by Eli Yishai.
In the video footage aired by Channel 2, Hakkak is seen reading a newspaper article about Deri’s possible return to Shas, and Yosef tells Moshe why he does not want Deri back as party chair, despite promising him as such when he went to prison.
Yosef said that 30 to 40 percent of people thought the court had been right to convict Deri and that Shas could lose those voters if they brought him back.
“If we put him for example at the head of our [electoral] list, 30 to 40 percent will leave us,” the rabbi says. “Why? Because he was judged in court. Why take someone who [is a] thief? Why take someone who accepts bribes? Why should we do this?...No-one has anything on Yishai.”
Yosef also accused Deri of being too independent and of not listening to him. Yosef related that Deri had ousted a Shas figure from his position and installed someone else against the wishes of the rabbi.
“Arye will not listen. I know from past experience, he’s too independent,” Yosef told his son. “Your mother was crying. Is this not an evil person?,” said the rabbi. “I told him a couple of times, he didn’t want to listen.”
Yosef also noted that Deri was seeking a potential new rabbinic patron to start a new political party.
“He’s encouraging [Rabbi] Kaduri to make another party. He’ll get 5,000 votes, he won’t pass the electoral threshold... I can’t betray Eli Yishai,” Yosef said.
In 2012 however, Deri was brought back to the Shas front lines after again threatening to establish a new political party. He was appointed joint chairman along with Yishai and former Shas MK Ariel Atias, and eventually appointed sole chairman by Yosef.
Yishai has claimed that Yosef was cajoled and manipulated by Deri and his assistants at a time when the rabbis health was failing.
In response to the video, Deri issued a statement saying that it was apparent to everyone that Yosef himself had appointed him chairman, and that Yishai had told lies about him to Yosef when the video footage was taken.
“Eli Yishai knew about the promise of Maran [Yosef] in front of the people of Israel to return the deposit to Arye Deri, and because of this he spread lies and false accusations against Deri in order to block his return. The words explicitly spoken by Maran [Yosef] when Arye Deri returned [to head the party] speak for themselves.
“In these days, when the public expects unity, the subversive man who styles himself as loyal [to Yosef] decided to leak a recording in which he secretly recorded Maran, and took advantage of the trust Maran had in him.”