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Apr 9, 2014

Who will Shas appeal to under Rav Shalom Cohen's leadership?

I find the announcement of Rav Shalom Cohen being given the mantle of "Maran" of Shas to be interesting. Not because of who he is or what he has said in the past, but because of how I think it will affect Shas.

Shas has always been interesting and a bit of an enigma. Shas has two very different publics it services and attracts:
1. The Haredi voters of Shas, yeshiva boys and families, avreichim and families, etc., makes up a significant percentage of the parties voters.
2. The "amcha", sefardi families who are traditional but not Haredi makes up another (greater?) significant percentage of voters.

For some reason, even though Shas acts in Knesset like a Haredi party, similar to UTJ, with the Haredi issues at the forefront, and its red lines mostly seem to be on the haredi issues, the traditional voters have voted and supported Shas, even though it has not necessarily been  areal good match regarding the issues that are important to most people. A traditional person might care about Haredi issues, such as certain budget cuts and haredi draft, but that would not necessarily be so important to him or her even at the expense of basic issues they need or prioritize, such as peace process, employment issues, educational issues, etc.

It was thought that it was Rav Ovadia who kept it all together - with Rav Ovadia at the helm, these people were willing, even happy, to vote Shas despite it being more of a Haredi party party than a social Sefardi party.

With Rav Ovadia gone, that has been the big question for the future./ With the "appointment" of Rav Cohen as the new maran, it looks like the question is being answered. Rav Cohen is far more haredi than Israeli, far more Haredi than the amcha, less charismatic... I would not be surprised to see the non-haredi voters of Shas to move away to other parties such as Likud, Habayit Hayehudi (for the more DL-affiliated people), and Moshe Kachlon's new party if he should actually form it..

I even think this corresponds with the low points Shas is hitting in the polls (as inaccurate as polls are) right now...

It is just a guess, but this is how I see it playing out...

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  1. The real death blow for Shas will be if (when) Eli Ishai and Ariyeh Deri go there own separate ways and split Shas with each faction claiming to be the real heir to Rav Ovida's party. The two parties would both struggle to break the threshold - hard to see Shas surviving as a political entity.

  2. Thanks to Michael for voicing my thoughts. We often cannot see the big picture or think long term, but we know that Rav Ovadia Yosef definitely could and I think it is too soon to understand why Rav Ovadia made the decision to bring back Deri. When it happened, I thought it was a big mistake (still think so). Shas was the quintessential centre party, and Eli Yishay only had to 1) take it further right-wing to pull more disenchanted Likud voters. I would say 2) add a couple of new faces to attract a new generation, but that isn't Eli Yishay's decision rather the sages council.
    I would love to see a nationalistic Sephardi and NR Torani party with Dr Michael Ben Ari. This would definitely pull frustrated Bayit Yehudi voters and also get most of the Otzma 66000 voters (including the 15 000+ Chabad).

  3. Is he the dude who called Dati Leumi amalek? Or was that someone else?

  4. there were a number to do so but I think he was the first


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