Showing posts from October, 2013

Did My Deceased Mother-In-Law Just Vote?

It may qualify as the least funny mother-in-law joke.

We received a phone call at home from a unit investigating the recent election fraud scams in Bet Shemesh.

They were particularly interested in my mother-in-law's voting habits.

My mother-in-law? Voting?

My mother-in-law passed away over three years ago.

That apparently was just the point...

Even though my mother-in-law is in her grave, she is still registered as a voter in Beit Shemesh.

Apparently, part of the (alleged) election fraud was that the scammers called hundreds of local homes impersonating pollsters.  

When the person called by the 'pollster' said that the registered voter would be absent during the election (such as they were travelling abroad, or were in general absent from this world, because they'd died) this went down as a positive finding - and these people's identities were then faked to enable people to vote in their place.

Absent people make great fake voters.

I don't know if my mothe…

Bet Shemesh Demonstrates: Keeping On Message

Movie: Sam Sokol

Last night's large (police estimates 5000) demonstration kept on message:

We want Clean Elections! We want Truth! We want Democracy! We want Justice!

We're against Fraud & Criminality!

We demand a Re-Vote!

We demand an Investigation!

Speaker after speaker kept on message.

The focus of the demonstration was not about Eli Cohen (the 'defeated' candidate), and not about Moshe Abutbol (the incumbent mayor) - it was about 'purity of elections'.

Along with the national and local politicians who spoke, three (eloquent) youngsters from Beit Shemesh spoke up for Bet Shemesh. A 20-something student, introduced as "Yisrael", took out a cartoon bomb, a la Bibi at the UN, and drew a red line, standing for fraud and criminalism corrupting free and fair elections in Beit Shemesh. "Ad Kan", to this point, we are willing to be defeated fairly in an election.

But not beyond that red line.

MK Dov Lipman (along with virtually every speaker)…

Beit Shemesh: The Purple Zone

If you take a look at the voting map of Beit Shemesh during this past fiery election, you'll note that the city is divided into unambiguous blue (Moshe Abutbol voters) and red (Eli Cohen voters) sectors.

Flare-ups have typically taken place at the seams - such as the Orot school and subsequent disruptions.

There is one area which is 'mixed' - which shows as purple on the map. It's an area within Ramat Beit Shemesh (Aleph) around Nahal Dolev, Refaim, Maor, etc..

In an up-beat article, Daniel Treisman has declared the Purple Zone as an area characterised by tolerance, friendship and co-existence which can become a model for the rest of Bet Shemesh.

We have enough voices and people from all sides of the spectrum who want to make a change that we can make serious headway on all the serious issues that have come to light over the past few months.

But we have to do it together as a family.

I invite anyone living in the blue or red zone to help spread the purple zone.


Beit Shemesh: The Third Option

The use of criminal, illegal and immoral tactics by the 'winning' Moshe Abutbol campaign in Bet Shemesh, has led to various practical options to resolve the situation.

Option One is to re-run the disputed election. 

I understand there are precedents for this in Israel, and the logistics do not need to be complicated. There is already a system for 2nd round elections in the case that no candidate for mayor obtains more than 40% of the vote. These 2nd round municipal elections will all be taking place around the country on 5th November.

So, in principle, adding Beit Shemesh to that list of second-round municipal elections on 5th November is feasible.

A problem is finding a mechanism which would force this election to be re-run.

I cannot see Moshe Abutbol voluntarily agreeing to a new election.

The Supreme Court would need to rule - and that would require legal proof of the nature and scale of the fraud. The Supreme Court cannot judge immorality - which may stink, but is not a fa…

Bet Shemesh - We Were Robbed

I was at a wedding on Monday night, and sat with some fine, educated and well informed people from Efrat.

I started to discuss the next day's municipal election in Bet Shemesh.

"Are the elections tomorrow?" he asked me. It transpired that neither he nor his wife were even aware of Municipal Domesday, which was happening the following day...

In many small town elections, a main contention might be whether to have a swimming pool, or a tennis court. Should certain streets be turned into pedestrian-only zones...and other such day-to-day important mundanities.

Here in Bet Shemesh the contentious issues seemed to mainly resolve around G-d and godliness.

That's rather a Biggy, and therefore, rather than being a gentlemanly contest between parties for seats on the town council, it resembled jihad.

Try as the non-Chareidi candidate, Eli Cohen, might, to address regular municipal issues, such as parks, cleanliness, safety, education, cultural events and transport....the ever…

Primitive Voting

As I voted at a ballot box in Beit Shemesh for Israel's municipal elections yesterday, I recalled the voting jetons (pictured above) I saw recently in an archaeological museum in Athens. 
In 500 BCE, Athenian citizens used these jetons to cast their ballots for political candidates.
It is astounding how little has changed since then.
In Israel, we have a wide array of voting slips displayed at the voting booth (example above), and one needs to match up the name of the party with the large letter symbols on the slips, and place one of them in the envelope. You then put the envelope in the ballot box. For local elections you get two votes, and so do this procedure again for mayoral candidates. 
It can get somewhat confusing - for example in the Beit Shemesh elections, Eli Cohen, (unsuccessfully - more about that when the pain subsides..) running for mayor,  also headed a list of candidates for the city council. The code letters for that party were טב. 
Meanwhile, a moderate chareid…

Response to Rabbi Malinowitz' Letter to The Community

An Open Response to Rabbi Chaim Malinowitz of BTYA

(adapted from a letter written by a former BTYA congregant)

Rabbi Malinowitz, you wrote a letter to your congregation which you subsequently decided to distribute to the entire city, via flyers, and printing it in the Meidah B'Ramah, and in place of your dvar Torah in Chadash. I believe that rabbis are entitled to respect. However, once you enter the political arena, and replace writing divrei Torah with political diatribes, you become a politician, and can be treated like any other politician.

You write that Bet Shemesh is a popular place and has many benefits.
This is true. However, it was a popular destination even before Abutbol was elected, largely due to its location and formerly cheap housing (and more recently, because of the effect of a large Anglo
population). The attractions and benefits of Bet Shemesh are not because of Abutbol - they are despite him.

For you to talk about how wonderful life is in Ramat Bet Shemesh is stran…

The Fifth Doctor!

By Guest Writer: Dr Moshe Halberstadt

Thoughts on the "four doctors" campaign from an RBS doctor who is not on a sign
Ever since the appearance of the "four doctors" campaign last month,  hundreds of people - both Eli and Abutbol supporters alike- have questioned the exploitation of the medical profession toward a political goal, and the individual doctors and their kupot  have received dozens of complaints.   As an urgent care Pediatrician who has treated thousands of children from all kupot and walks of life in Bet Shemesh, and as a friend and colleague of the three pediatricians on the banner, I have been inundated over the past month regarding my opinion and stance on this issue.   Still others, knowing that I strongly support Eli Cohen, have questioned why I have limited my public support to a two-inch photo which was part of a montage of young and old supporters from all professions, hashkafot and backgrounds.  So I am writing to discuss these and other issues …

Rabbis in Israeli Politics - Dissonance

In Israel, there is absolutely no delineation between church and State.

Israeli rabbis and politicians can become fairly indistinguishable.

For example, Rav Eliezer Shach, as well as being a Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevezh,  was a political leader in Agudat Yisrael, then worked with Rav Ovadiah Yosef to establish Shas, and subsequently formed Degel Hatorah. Rav Shach sought out and obtained the political partnership of two other roshei yeshiva, Rav Elyashiv and Rav Steinman, in developing the political party Degel Hatorah.

Rav Ovadiah Yosef ztz"l was both a torah genius & undisputed posek for the Sephardi world, and was also a highly accomplished and experienced politician. He both founded and controlled the Shas Party, effectively becoming a national statesman, as well as Gadol Hador.  

At the local level, community rabbonim in Israel will frequently weigh in on political elections, backing this or another candidate or party. Forming blocks and alliances, invariably brings more …

Violence Breaks Out in Beit Shemesh City Elections

Unfortunately, sectarian tensions constantly bubble under the surface of Beit Shemesh, and these regularly express themselves in acts of violence, threats and intimidation. Our otherwise wonderful city has become internationally infamous for this internal strife.

Rabbi Avrohom Leventhal is the number two candidate for the moderate chareidi party "Tov" in the Beit Shemesh local elections.

Avrohom was out late last night, and saw a team of people putting up election posters for incumbent mayor Moshe Abutbol, on the street lamp-posts.

He approached the people doing this, and asked one of them whether this was legal?

That person refused to respond, so Avrohom took photographs, to give himself the option of pursuing this in future.

As Avrohom was walking away towards his house, he was pelted with stones by that person.

Avrohom told the man that, whereas he is uncertain of the legal standing of putting up posters without permission on public property, throwing stones at people is …

Thrills & Spills - A Groom's Visit to Temple Mount

It is increasingly popular for both brides and grooms to ascend to Temple Mount on their wedding days.

So, yesterday, my son Raphael's wedding day, Raphael and me made an early start, went to dip in a local mikve, and then headed to Jerusalem.
We davened at the kotel; then we went to the bottom of the adjacent Mugrabi bridge/ramp, to meet up with Rabbi Yehudah Glick, a foremost expert on the history of Temple Mount.

Raphael's bride, Aviya, was a few minutes ahead of us; we were careful to avoid meeting her and her entourage, in keeping with the tradition that the groom and bride should not see each other for a week before their wedding.

Rabbi Glick briefed us on the do's and don'ts for Jews visiting Temple Mount. It is forbidden by Israeli law and the police for Jews to pray on Temple Mount, nor to do anything which could be prayings, such as moving one's lips, bowing, prostrating, or reading a prayer book (which is contraband). In addition, Rabbi Glick impressed u…