There is a new Sephardi organization in Israel and while it is not yet a political party, it appears it will be and it hopes to take the ‘traditional’ Sephardi vote from Shas.
It is no secret that many of the Shas voters are not necessarily chareidi, or even dati leumi for that matter, but ‘mesorati’ (traditional) as they are referred to in Israel. For them it is important to cast a ballot for a party that represents the values and traditions of their past, of their homes and the homes of their grandparents. For many of the traditional voters, the voting for such a party that is dati leumi or simply traditional is much closer to their comfort zone that voting for a chareidi party, which is how Shas is viewed today.
Mrs. Almakaiyis, a person active in the organization, ‘Tor HaZahav’, explains that there is a vacuum in the Sephardi political community and while she appreciates Shas, there is a great deal missing and the Sephardi working person, men and women, are missing from the scene. “We are not competing with Shas. This is the last party that we wish to compete with and it is important for everyone to understand”.
Speaking with Kol Chai Radio, Mrs. Almakaiyis explains she personally is Shomer Shabbos, a religious traditional Moroccan, and she feels she represents the majority, not Shas. Almakaiyis adds the organization has been in existence for a number of years and now it appears to be moving forward to advance its social agenda.
The organization was founded by attorney Ofir Tubal, who also spoke with Kol Chai’s Mordechai Lavi, explaining he was a part of Shas and remains in contact with Shas but there are many areas Shas does not address. He feels that for one thing, Shas continues to refer to the outlying communities as “periphery communities” and this term must be omitted from the lexicon for its signals inferiority and second class status of the residents, most being Sephardim.
Tubal responded “in principle yes” when asked if he remains in touch with Shas leader Aryeh Deri, adding “He is in charge of two important ministries so in practice this does not happen day-to-day”.
Tubal adds that “the time has come to step out of the chareidiness of the party. When was the last time a non-chareidi or Sephardi women was in Shas? Never, and that is the point for this represents the majority and these people are seeking and are entitled to representation”. Tubal stresses the Sephardi majority does not have representation and these are the voters his organization will be representing.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)