Saturday, May 11, 2013

Some Short Thoughts On why the The Ariel-Amar Deal Won't Happen

Makor Rishon dedicated their weekend edition to coverage of the Chief Rabbi race (Israel). Much of the discussion was an analysis of whether the Amar-Ariel deal will actually occur. Just to remined everyone, the deal is supposed to be that the Jewish Home will use their power in government to pass a law allowing Sephradic  Chief Rabbi Amar to serve a second term. In return Shas is meant to endorse rabbi Ariel as the Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi. The assumption being that Shas is still the strongest actor in the voting body that will elect the next Chief Rabbi. There is one other catch. The Jewish Home will need to change the law for Harav Ariel too - as he is currently older than the maximum age set in the law.

Here are some quick insights I gained, all explaining why the deal is unlikely to occur:

1. The deal has a built in flaw. Shas will get what they want immediately with the passing of the law allowing Rav Amar to run again. The Jewish Home will however have to wait a few months before the elections take place. During those months, Shas could withdraw their support for any reason.

2. Second internal flaw - The vote for Chief Rabbi is secret. Shas can't promise that its people will vote how they are told. Additionally, those voting may "read between the lines" and vote for a candidate Shas really want. In short, Shas can't guarantee other people will fulfill their will.

3. There is some doubt whether Shas really wants Rav Amar to be Chief Rabbi a second time. A lot of people think that Harav Ovadia really wants his son to have the position.

4. The deal was made with Eli Yishai - who is now no longer the head of Shas. Aryeh Deri is considered less trustworthy making it harder for the Jewish Home to trust him to deliver (see points 1+2).

5. The Jewish Home still can't get its act together and decide who they want for the job. Harav Stav is still considered the liberal choice.

6. Yesh Atid, Yisrael Beytenu and Hatenuah all endorse Stav. Yesh Atid itself is enough to block any changes in the law.

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