Why I'm Switching My Vote
The Beit Shemesh Re-Called Election which will be held this Tuesday is unique.
It the first time ever that an election has been overturned and recalled in Israel. This was on the grounds of widespread and systematic election fraud in the October 2013 Municipal Elections.
It is therefore the only election in Israel's history where voters have the (legal) possibility of voting, changing their mind - and then voting again differently.
And that's precisely what I'm planning to do.
In October, I voted for Eli Cohen for mayor, and the TOV party for city council.
I am a fan of TOV, because I admire their courage in pushing a moderate chareidi agenda, in a field dominated by fundamentalists. Encouraging chareidi participation in the workforce, the army and Israeli society - and in local terms, "the pursuit of quality of life" - sounds like a healthy vote in favour of progress.
However, what finally clinched my vote in October for TOV was their number two candidate, Rav Avrohom Leventhal.
I know Rav Leventhal from close up, in our relationship as Chairman (me) and Executive Director (R.Leventhal) of Lema'an Achai, working in partnership for the past seven years.
I am an unapologetic diehard admirer of Rav Leventhal - his integrity, humanity and wisdom.
Having Rav Leventhal on the city council would enable the whole city to benefit from his personal qualities.
However, even TOV's number one candidate, Aaron Solomon, failed (narrowly) to win a seat in October's election.
Frankly, voting for TOV this time, so as to help get their number two, Rav Leventhal, on city council, now sounds like a mis-spent vote.
Furthermore, TOV's inability to garner a seat, showed that, however admirable their agenda, their natural constituency of working-chareidim are not listening or interested in pursuing a path of moderation.
Instead, I'll be hoping that my vote will make a significant difference by helping Rena Hollander into city council.
I have known Rena for over a decade, and can attest to her quiet, industrious and compassionate assistance to helping hundreds of families in our community.
Rena is number four on the Beit Shemesh Returns list - in October, they won three seats on city council, just shy of Rena winning a seat.
The Beit Shemesh Returns Party is a progressive coalition including Jewish Home/Bayit Yehudi, which is my natural habitat as a national religious stalwart.
I'll therefore be voting for "Beit Shemesh Returns" (טב) - Eli Cohen's united zionist party.
So, for me, it's TOV out, and טב in!
For the mayor, in the October municipal election I voted for the Zionist candidate, Eli Cohen.
This was because Eli promised a new professionalism and fairness in a city which has become a byword around the world for extremism and corruption.
Eli's upper management experience at the Jewish Agency and Mekorot Water Company showed solid competence, without frills & shtikim/trickery.
Eli's lack of political experience raised a question-mark - and his bungled party leadership contest against Aliza Bloch, also smacked of a political novice.
However, given the choice between a good manager, and a seasoned politician, in October, I was willing to risk the former.
This time, just five months later, we are looking at a very different Eli Cohen.
There has been mumbled criticism that Eli Cohen's election campaign was lackluster and negative.
What these critics were missing, is that Eli Cohen this time didn't need a slick, expensive campaign to introduce himself and what he stands for to the Beit Shemesh voters.
This time, Eli Cohen has already proven his steel.
The feat he accomplished, against all odds, of courageously fighting the systematic corruption and fraud of the October election, through the courts, all the way to the Supreme Court - and winning an unprecedented victory for clean democratic process, taking a firm stand against cheats and fraudsters - has changed Eli Cohen's status.
Today, Eli Cohen's credentials are not that he has held senior management positions in this or that organization or company.
Eli Cohen's most compelling credential... is this recalled election itself!!
Eli Cohen is now the nationally-known face of electoral integrity and honesty in Israel.
Eli Cohen has proven he has the personal courage, resources and talents to take on even the most fanatical & cheating kanoim, who for the past decade had brought our whole city into international disrepute - and Eli Cohen won.
Last time, I voted for Eli Cohen, Deputy CEO of Mekorot Water Company.
This time I'm switching.
I've had enough of being given 'the face' when I mention I'm from Beit Shemesh to people from out of town and even abroad - it is time to restore the battered reputation of Beit Shemesh.
It is time to turn the page on the past, and move on to ethical, tolerant, reliable, equitable and efficient government.
This time, I'm voting for the nationally recognised hero of lawful democracy in Israel, a man who has already accomplished the unprecedented.
I will vote for the new Eli Cohen.
The next mayor of Beit Shemesh - a city we will all be proud of!