Shas Waffles Over Participation in NIF-Backed Conference

Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri may still speak at the annual Haaretz “Israel Democracy Conference” in Tel Aviv, representatives for the party told Arutz Sheva on Tuesday – despite the fact that the conference is being backed by the extreme leftist New Israel Fund (NIF). 

"The issue is under review," they said.

Jewish Home and Likud MKs have already cancelled planned speeches for the event in protest of NIF's involvement. The organization funds groups which were deeply involved in the UN's 2010 Goldstone Report, which accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza; NGO Monitor has shown the NIF to be closely associated with the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement against Israel, and the NIF-funded web channel Social Television was revealed last August to be encouraging violent Arab riots.

Shas representatives said that the party should also pull its plans to participate in the conference in protest, as NIF has worked to harm the Jewish identity of the State of Israel and the haredi public in particular. They cited NIF's involvement with Women of the Wall as well as the Reform movement-backed Hiddush organization, which aims to reduce the Rabbinate's influence in Israel.

However, Deri has reportedly not made a decision on the issue despite public pressure.

Shas has had closer ties to the left wing than other haredi parties, an issue which reportedly prompted former chairman Eli Yishai to leave the party in December and launch his own Yachad-Ha'am Itanu party.

A series of recordings leaked on Channel 2 news that same month revealed that it was Deri, not the party's spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, who was behind a crucial abstention that led to Israel's acceptance of the Oslo Accords, a revelation which sparked outrage.


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