Joel R. Schwartzman

How many times is enough? The ballad of Aryeh Deri

Admittedly, I don’t know Aryeh Deri from Adam.  I just know that he has been convicted several times for corruption and has spent time in jail.  He must have more political lives than a cat because every time I’ve turned around, he’s been back in the Knesset.  Were the Israeli electoral system like that in the U.S., I would have thought that this was one popular jail-bird.  But, alas, Israel votes for party, and I guess Deri must have some sway in the Shas party because he keeps re-appearing.

In light of the latest revelation, it now appears as though Deri will step down from his Knesset seat and avoid jail in a agreement that keeps him free.  But, one is seriously tempted to ask, is this the last we shall be seeing of this corrupt politician or is Israel to witness his return, once again, so that he can challenge the law and avoid the scruples which seem to have evaded him all along? It sounds as though this latest deal does, indeed, leave him the door to reemerge.

I am not tempted to point fingers at corruption in Israel.  Heavens knows, given our powerful lobbies and their hench-persons, and the ability to pour dark money into our elections, we have enough of those kinds of shenanigans, graft, nepotism and other nefarious political games here in the United States that I need not step too far outside my own glass house to throw stones at Deri.  But the man has landed on his political feet so many times, it seems almost frivolous to know that once again he has gotten his hand caught in the cookie jar.

One would think that Deri is enough of an embarrassment to the Shas party that they would censure him and forbid him once and for all from getting near anything political in Israel; but we’re all aware of other criminals who won the hearts of the people—like Al Capone, Bonny and Clyde, and Jesse James.  So, don’t be surprised in a few years from now, as Deri re-surfaces and again emerges as a Shas elected MK.  Then the question will be just how long it will take authorities to catch him this time?

About the Author
After twenty-three years of military service, Rabbi Schwartzman retired at the rank of Colonel in September 1998. From July 1999 to July 2000, Rabbi Schwartzman was Associate Rabbi of Temple Sinai in Denver, Colorado. For a decade thereafter he served as the Rabbi of both Congregation B’nai Chaim in Morrison, Colorado, and the Synagogue of the Summit in Summit County, Colorado.
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