November 10, 2010 Netanyahu Obama Disagree Publically, Shas MK Amsalem Causes Uproar

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

November 10, 2010 Netanyahu Obama Disagree Publically, Shas MK Amsalem Causes Uproar

The disagreements between the Obama Administration and the Netanyahu government were raised a notch over the course of the last two days, after the Israeli announcement of new buildings in East Jerusalem. Both sides could have chosen to downplay the disagreement, but neither did. President Obama could have ignored the issue and left the condemnation to the State Department, but he chose to criticize the decision, while still in Indonesia. Netanyahu could have done the same and ignored the President, but to the surprise of many, Netanyahu responded to Obama with a lengthy statement criticizing the Americans, and by implication, Obama's position. The only explanation for these reactions, is that it looks good for their respective domestic politics.

It seems the well timed announcement of continued building in the East Jerusalem is the result of an order given by the Minister of the Interior, Eli Yishai of Shas. Yishai ordered his ministry to approve as many building plans in East Jerusalem as possible. With both the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of the Interior in the hands of Shas, we have an important part of Israel's position in the world being held hostage by a group of people who have no understanding of the world. These officials barely have the qualifications to run a neighborhood supermarket; yet the Israeli political system puts them in these pivotal positions of power.

Speaking of Shas, the maverick Shas Knesset Member Rabbi Amsalem (he is the one who called for leniency for converts serving in the IDF) created uproar in the Shas/Haredi world. He penned an article today stating there is no basis in Sephardic tradition for adults to stay in a Kollel and continue to learn full time. He quoted extensively from the Ramban, who wrote it was a Chilul Hashem (desecration of God's name) for someone to learn just for learnings sake, while living off someone else's donations. Needless to say, Amsalem has created an uproar.

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