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Rabbi Amsalem Offers Alternative For Israeli Voters

Rabbi MK Haim Amsalem, one of the real surprises of the Israeli elections, explains to interviewer Mazal Mualem why he rebelled against his mother party, Shas, and called on rabbinical college students to enlist in the army. 
An ultra-Orthodox Jew places a sticker that depicts Shas party leader Aryeh Deri onto a campaign banner depicting Am Shalem party leader Haim Amsalem during an annual pilgrimage to the gravesite of Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira, a Moroccan-born sage and kabbalist also known as the Baba Sali, in the southern town of Netivot January 14, 2013. A fixture in successive governments, the ultra-Orthodox Shas party draws its support from the fast-growing community of religious Jews of Middle Eastern origin whose spiritu
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Rabbi MK Haim Amsalem, chairman of the Am Shalem Party, has been having a frustrating relationship in the last few weeks with the Knesset’s (Israeli Parliament) minimum-vote threshold. After he exceeded it in the past with three mandates and emerged as a new trend, mainly among Israel’s secular population, new players entered the playing field and Amsalem has started to lose momentum. But even if the rabbi doesn't find himself in the next Knesset, he is undoubtedly one of the interesting phenomena of the 2013 elections.

The current election campaign is full of absurdities, and Amsalem’s support-base is one of them. Amsalem was dismissed from the ultra-Orthodox Shas movement about two years ago after he rebelled against the main elements of its platform and, even worse — against its leaders. However, contrary to what one might presume, Amsalem does not constitute a threat against his former political bastion; the in-depth polls show that he does not challenge Shas’ electorate of Sephardi ultra-Orthodox Jews. Instead, he plays mainly in the secular Center-Left field in which he constitutes another breakaway faction, in addition to the many that already exist.

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