Tuesday, November 19, 2002

So it looks like Mitzna is heading Labor
Today has been a fun day in politics. Labor party members have been choosing the head of the party. They had Fouad Ben Eliezer, Haim Ramon or Amram Mitzna to choose from. According to exit polls Mitzna got 57%. The media is giving it a lot of attention. No on else could really care. Most people I know who voted for Labor in the past have no intention of voting for them this time. They’ll probably be taking a few voters from Meretz, seeing as the two parties will be indistinguishable, as far as their platforms are concerned, with Mitzna heading Labor.

Another interesting development is the establishment of a new Sephardi (Eastern Jews) religious party, supported by Rabbi Kadouri, and, which could take votes away from Shas, the veteran Sephardi religious party, if it takes off. The new party, Ahavat Yisrael, claims to be affiliated with the ever-popular ex-con Aryeh Deri, who says he’s steering clear of these elections, because he’s got another court case soon. It looks like a few of Deri’s political cronies in Shas are moving to the new party because his successor as head of Shas, Eli Yishai, is pushing them out, with the support of Rabbi Ovadia Yossef. The elections could turn out to be a showdown between Rabbi Ovadia, Shas’ spiritual leader, widely accepted as the spiritual leader of all the religious Sephardi Jews and Rabbi Kadouri, who is a popular Kabbalist. Many people believe Rabbi Kadouri is not really aware of what goes on around him, because of his advanced age. His grandson handles his lucrative business of selling blessings to the gullible. There’s no love lost between the two Rabbis, but Rabbi Ovadia tolerated Rabbi Kadouri’s backing of Shas in the past because of his immense popularity with the Shas voters.

There is a lot of disillusionment with Shas anyway, because their ministers are seen to be squandering money and are thought to be insensitive to their voters, many of whom are very poor. There’s a story circulating that Rabbi Ovadia has a jaguar (car not animal). The change in the voting system this time is bound to lose them a lot of votes, as well.