A Shas event intended to strengthen the internal opposition, the Eli Yishai faction, was a flop. Organizers were confident they would draw a full house but only several tens attended.
After the Shas party event in Ramat Gan marking 11 months since the petira of Maran HaGaon HaRav Ovadia Yosef ZT”L, party officials recognized the failure and signed a much smaller venue for the 12-month memorial.
The poor turnout for that event led to rumors that a new Sephardi chareidi party was in the works, a party headed by Eli Yishai and HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Amar Shlita. One of the clear messages sent to the media was that part of the reason for the poor turnout was the fact that Rav Amar was not invited to the Ramat Gan event. Members of the Yishai camp explained that if Rav Amar was among the invited rabbonim, the turnout would have been significantly better – a full house.
Since then Shas signed to rent the Jerusalem Payis Arena for the 12-month yahrzeit event which has a seating capacity of 11,000, far less than Ramat Gan Stadium which holds 35,000. The latter was the original venue planned for the 12-month event.
With the yahrzeit of Maran ahead there are adverts of many memorial events taking place around the country. One such event was advertised, an event that would be addressed by Rav Amar. Those who read between the lines understood the kenos would be a rally showing support for Eli Yishai and his faction as well as Rav Amar. To their disappointment only several tens of people turned out in Rishon L’Tzion for the event. Organizers were certain there was going to be a full house.
Rav Amar arrived and the former Rishon L’Tzion was compelled to address an almost empty hall. So much for the “Giant Atzeres” as it was billed.
Many feel that the poor turnout is not necessarily a showing of support for party leader Aryeh Deri, but perhaps more accurately it was a showing of the chasm that exists in the Sephardi community. Shas voters have become tired of the machlokes and division in the party since the petira of Maran. Simply stated they are tired of Shas.
Members of the Yishai camp tried to explain away the dismal turnout, telling the media the party spent 450,000 shekels for the Ramat Gan event but here, for the Rishon L’Tzion event less than one-tenth of that amount was spent to publicize it.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)