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!


  1. David, you and all other Eli Cohen fans have buried their heads in the sand.
    1-Eli Cohen was never a political novice. He was active in the Likud party in Bet Shemesh for many years.
    2-His mistake with Aliza Bloch was not handled with integrity, whether it was Bennets fault or his, he should have handled it differently and very much disenfranchised certain voters.
    3-His win at the supreme court was no big feat. Anyone who would challenge the hareidim would win at the supreme court.
    4-Our City has a bad name not from 20 idiots in bet but rather from 1 guy in BS who wanted to get in the knesset so he washed the dirty laundry of 20 idiots in the eye of the media. There are also others responsible for giving BS a bad name like those who try to paint RBS as the molestation capital of the universe with city wide rabbinic cover-up when in fact it is so far from the truth.
    5-Ethical? I guess that means that if Eli Cohen gets into office then his first act will be to sign demolition orders on his own houses' illegal extension.

  2. Re your point #4 - there was bad stuff going on from people associated with Hareidim, which they didn't properly handle. For you to blame the messenger instead of those who perpetrated the crimes, besides being specious, helps ensure that the problems will not be taken care of properly.
    Just as David has done with Magen, to shine the light of day on problems which were NOT being taken care of internally.
    Your other points have either been dealt with or are irrelevant.

  3. That is in your opinion. There are plenty of people who say the problems were being dealt with properly. I am not blaming the messenger. I am blaming anyone who purposely inflates a situation to make someone or something look bad, even if they have good intentions in their eyes.
    How have my other points been dealt with or why are they irrelevant?

  4. Mr. Anon (first comment), rather its people like you who give Beit Shemesh a bad name when minimizing the whole Orot issue. Before "1 guy" stepped in, did any Haredi rabbinical leaders come to condemn what was going on? No. Did the mayor ever say he was wrong telling Orot to move instead of coming down on "the 20 idiots"? No. Your hostile tone just underlies the bully nature you represent.

  5. Further, Mr. Anon (first comment), the Rabbinic failure of dealing with the child abuse problem in Beit Shemesh is widely known. One illuminating case is the convicted molester on Dolev who still davens and learns in their shuls--who they never reported to the police (as they thought their threats would be enough--it wasn't and he continued) and discouraged the victims from doing so.

  6. If he was convicted by the medina then why is he out davening?He should be in jail.
    Also, there was atleast one molester or davened in a dl shul, whom they wouldnt give an aliya however he wasnt thrown out.
    1 crazy Eli Cohen activist, on camera, said the askenasim should go back to aushowitz. Did Eli Cohen condemn his remark. Was there a march against him? Of course not. When asked to othe Eli Cohen supporters, there answer was telling-Its 1 person, what do you want from us.
    Its 20 people out of 1 million, what do u want from us?
    Whats good for the goose is good for the gander.
    BS has no more problems then other places. Your comment of rabbinic failure is your opinion and not fact.

  7. Anon #1 -your other points:
    1. Being active in a party is not the same as running for office, for which he was a novice.
    2. Was dealt with. However, it's interesting that you didn't blame the people who blew this out of proportion... Be consistent for Heaven's sake.
    3. You have no actual basis for how easy or hard it was to win the court case, so your statement is meaningless.
    4. The facts on the ground show that it wasn't being dealt with, as there were many repeat performances...
    5. The city is rife with illegal building, which was handled inconsistently. So much so that the national govt. stepped in (during Abutbol's term) to handle it. So your point adds nothing.

    Anonymous #2

  8. 1) If he is an active member, he has some experience.
    2) Aliza Bloch was deeply hurt by it(I dont know her but everybody knows. Eli Cohen and Bennet acted wrongly and if Bennet messed up, Eli Cohen, who was the front guy should have publicly apologized and made real peace.Shows he isnt as straight as everyone says he is.
    3)Look at the supreme courts record when it comes to religion and right wing politics. They lean to the left in both cases. The police have still not finished their investigation yet the court has found evidence of systemic fraud. How? The investigation isnt concluded yet? Ahh-haredi=guilty in Israel. If this was a right wing issue, David Morris and others would all agree with me that the court is biased. Its only because its Eli Cohen vs Abutbol that they take the courts side.
    4) There are plenty of cases of child abuse that the courts and police cant deal with due to lack of evidence , etc. Not every accused person is guilty too. You do your best and realize that ultimately Hashem will take care of the bad guys.
    5) Eli Cohen owns a house with illegal building. If this was abutbol, i promise you teh knesset would be debating it if its called morally heinous and disqualify him. The national Govt was already looking at BS since 2005 becuase of these issues and Abutbol wasnt mayor. Eli Cohen's likud friend was.

  9. Hi Anonymous - the police and justice system are viewed by chareidim as anti-chareidi; by 'settlers' as anti-settler; by sephardim as anti-sephardi; by Arabs as anti-Arab; by Russians as Anti-Russian, etc...etc..ad nauseam.

    Actually, they are anti-criminal.

    Do the crime, pay the time.

    Get caught cheating, red-handed (!!) - yes, there's a price for that.

    And it's the police and court's job to exact that price.
    Whether the criminals are chareidim, chilonim, dark skinned, short-sighted, thin or fat.

    Grow up and get real - and quit blaming the justice system for meeting out justice.

  10. Eli Cohen will buy a beer for the first person to make sense of Anonymous arguing with Anonymous arguing with Anonymous arguing with Anonymous arguing with Anonymous on this thread.

  11. Abutbol and company were not caught red handed. 8 or so people were. 36 votes, thats all.. Dead people voting, the 2 examples given were from Eli Cohen neighborhoods.
    The justice system is always just? What a immature comment. Are courts never biased? Hmnn Dreyfus affair comes to mind. Pollard affair comes to mind. I know plenty of Right wing activists who sat in jail for nothing, nothing rather administrative detention used on them because the Govt said they are trouble makers but they dont have evidence. People on death row who are realized 20 years later due to new evidence. WHat is that called-justice?
    Its very easy to claim grow up, you grow up and realize that Abutbol is the mayor and will be the mayor and if you dont like it, feel free to pack out to Yad Binyamin or Moddian and feel more comfortable just liek other people could move to Kiryat sefer if they want.

    1. I want to thank you. I didn't intend to vote--had enough of all of the politics. But your arrogance has inspired me to go to the polls tomorrow and vote Eli Cohen.

  12. Mr Morris

    If you had any integrity you would paraphrase if not publish in full the article written by Kalman Lipskind in the Maariv newspaper 2 weeks ago in which he explained at length the legal and mental acrobatics that the judges of the regional court performed in order to justify their ruling.

    He is so far the only mainstream media journalist to publish a full and truthful report and explanation of how the court found that 36 illegal (yes illegal - I believe that the full weight of the law should be used against those proven to have broken it) votes and 167 "borrowed" id books (the police did not claim they were fake as you have tried to insinuate numerous times) could amount to "widespread and systematic fraud".

    The fact that the court made a political decision and then tried to find some convoluted way to explain it is clearly spelled out in the court papers and in Mr Lipskind's article.

    In case you do not have the url of the article I am posting it in this response.
    You got a copy of an English translation in your post-box last week and also in the Chadash newspaper on Thursday.
    You know full well that although the court's decision is binding on us all and the high court decided that there is no grounds for appeal, this decision is not based on any legal precedent or even in fact, and that there was no legal reason for the elections to be overturned.

    The courts have made their decisions and those of us who choose to live in this great country have to abide by it, but you know that your continued portrayal of the previous elections as having been stolen by the chareidim and Abutbul is not only false but malicious too.

    I do not know who will win the election today, but you and I do know that the previous results were valid and if they are overturned today it will be only on account of a serious and unprecedented distortion of the legal system by the legal system itself.


  13. I find the chareidi campaigners remarkably inconsistent in how they chose their gurus/mekoros.

    They give someone the status of Rav Hagaon..Shlita, Rosh Hayeshiva, etc..if he endorses the chareidi candidate - even if the chareidim wouldn't even eat the food on that person's table, much less give him kovod harav.

    They quote Kalman Lipskind, of Maariv, and re-publish his one article about the court verdict, via every available media - even if they wouldn't "hold by" Mr Lipskind's opinions in any other circumstance.

    Pick and chose, flipping over themselves, from one minute to the next.

  14. Shmuel your first point is somewhat valid - there is an epidemic in the chareidi community of "harav gagaon"s... as long as one is breathing one can qualify for that title

    Your second point is completely irrelevant.
    If Lipskind is correct then this infection is a farce (albeit one with the hechsher of the chief justice of the high court) but a farce non the less.
    The fact that I would not agree with his analysis regarding hesder yeshivas or rabbis ben dahan and metzger or the Oslo agreement does not mean that his article about the elections ifs incorrect or not relevant


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