Giant posters were hung all over Jerusalem on Sunday, taking one of the most terrifying Biblical verses about the Jewish people's greatest enemy — "Remember what Amalek did unto thee" (Deuteronomy 25:17) — and converting it to modern times, to say "Remember what Habayit Hayehudi did unto thee." These posters represent more than anything the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) public's current sense of mourning and feeling of utter destruction.
This week was the culmination of several of the darkest, tensest weeks that haredi political figures have known in recent years. They started out in a position of power and control when Shas' leaders took a resolute stance against mandatory military enlistment for haredim. This position of power was quickly replaced with reconciliation meetings between haredi and national religious rabbis with the haredi rabbis begging the national religious rabbis to "protect the Torah world."
Last week, things deteriorated to the point where the haredim were trying to figure out how it could possibly be that the national religious party, Habayit Hayehudi, had preferred Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid over them. This rapidly led to haredi vows of revenge against the national religious constituency and the settlements.
Pictured: A United Torah Judaism banner calling on the party leaders and the haredi world as a whole: "Remember what Habayit Hayehudi has done to you, and never forget!"
On Sunday, so it seems, an official week of mourning began. The haredim are sitting shiva (the traditional seven days of mourning for the dead) now that their hopes of being invited to join the coalition have been dashed. Shas co-Chairman Eli Yishai has told people in private conversations that his people were so despondent that he didn't even plan to fight for the opposition committee jobs that were supposed to go to Shas. Party co-Chairman Aryeh Deri, however, was looking for someone to blame.
Speaking of Deri, when the mourning period ends, the investigations and recriminations will begin. That day is not far off. Several Shas officials have already voiced their veiled, and overt, criticism of the man who was supposed to be the party's great hope. They say that Deri, who promised that with him at the helm the party would win 18 Knesset seats, not only failed to deliver, but also caused a rift within the leadership (after years of calm). His return to the party created an unmanageable three-headed monster (the tripartite chairmanship of Yishai, Deri and Ariel Atias). Deri was also responsible for the party's election campaign, which managed to offend every sector in Israeli society.
Party members remarked that Deri, who lashed out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, is the same Deri who made the executive decision to stand by Netanyahu before the elections. Now, after Shas' election failure, he is looking to become the mayor of Jerusalem, and he is leaving scorched earth behind him. It is not clear whether Shas, and especially Shas' spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and his close associates, will ever forgive him.