The Yachad party, led by Eli Yishai, who ran for the Knesset in the recent election along with Otzma Yehudit politicians Baruch Marzel and Michael Ben-Ari, missed reaching Knesset representation by just a few thousand votes
That loss, claims the would-be MKs, was due to false rumors spread before the election portraying Yachad candidates in an unfavorable light among haredi Sephardic voters – a constituency Yachad was competing for votes for with Shas.
Now, the candidates say they know who specifically was behind spreading the rumors. His name is Yehuda Avidan, and Yachad is suing him for damages due to his alleged rumor-mongering.
According to the complaint filed in a Jerusalem court this week, the evidence of Avidan's false statements about Yachad came in a radio interview days before the election, in which Avidan, a senior Shas activist, accused Marzel of protesting outside the home of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, former Chief Rabbi and the late spiritual mentor of Shas.
Yishai organized the protest, said Avidan, after he was edged out of Shas leadership several years ago by Aryeh Deri, and Marzel had for years been “persecuting” Rabbi Yosef over what Marzel considered the rabbi's “leftist” political views.
Along with Marzel, he said, attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is representing Yachad in the lawsuit, protested outside the rabbi's house.
Ben-Gvir then entered the conversation and demanded that Avidan apologize for lying – knowingly – and that neither he nor Marzel had ever protested outside Rabbi Yosef's house, adding that if Avidan did not apologize, he would be sued for libel.
According to papers filed with the court, Avidan's comments harmed the party's chances of success, to the extent that if failed to pass the electoral threshold.
The plaintiffs are demanding NIS 400,000 in damages, just a small percentage of the amount really due them because of the defendant's actions, they claim.