Will Good Fences Make Good Neighbors in Beit Shemesh?

The idea of splitting Beit Shemesh into two municipalities is gaining traction.

Richard Peres, the Beit Shemesh city councilor, has been an outspoken advocate for splitting Beit Shemesh, for at least ten years.

When I first heard the idea from Richard, I felt that this otherwise grounded veteran politician, was losing his touch with reality.

The idea seemed far too fetched to have any practical application.

The highly contentious re-called municipal election campaign is now over, and Moshe Abutbul the incumbent mayor, has been re-elected, if by a wafer-thin majority. Furthermore, the mayor now has a workable majority coalition, with 10 of the 19 councilors firmly allied with Abutbul.

Rather than licking their wounds, and taking time off to recuperate from the double-campaigns in October 2013 and March 2014, the zionist camp, now in opposition, are directing their energies to reviving the dusty plans to split the municipality into two.

The plans proponents are claiming that the time has come to formally recognise the "unsuccessful" relationship between the chareidi and zionist populations. They are calling for a peaceful divorce.

Gideon Saar, the Interior Minister has been reported to be reviewing the possibility of splitting Beit Shemesh for several months, along with a parallel proposal from the city of Sefad.

Several MK's are reported to be promoting the concept at Government level, probably including Beit Shemesh MK Rabbi Dov Lipman - who has the ear of his Yesh Atid colleagues, including Yair Lapid.

This week, a petition was posted to split the city, with 'only' 1556 votes in favour (as of writing this article): http://www.atzuma.co.il/lomevatrimalbetsheme
This Tuesday night, a demonstration has been called by activists in Beit Shemesh to promote the partition plan.

The idea will certainly need a huge amount of details working out, even if it were to be universally accepted in principle. Which it isn't.

For example, I live in Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph, in the sole area coloured purple on the (inaccurate) election results map above, indicating a mix of Eli Cohen (zionist) and Moshe Abutbul (Chareidi) supporters.

Would me and my neighbors be in the local equivalent of West Berlin, in the new plan?

Or, as I am National Religious, would I be encouraged to move house into the zionist Beit Shemesh?


  1. I also live in RBS A. We have our shul, school and Best market. Aside from that, we mainly go out to old Beit Shemesh for shopping, restaurants, etc. Maybe in the new arrangement, we'd finally get a swimming pool, cinema, sports ground, culture center, etc!! Question: what would happen to the value of our property in RBS A?

    1. Good you are asking about the property values, because most likely you'll be moving out of RBSA which will be part of the evil chareidi entity.

  2. There are places in Israel that coexist nicely side by side without clear boundaries. I'm thinking of Tel-Aviv - Ramat Gan, and Bnei Brak beside Ramat Gan. Were they set up that way or did they split?

  3. I'm pretty sure Tel-Aviv, Ramat Gan, Bnei Brak, and all the other components of Gush Dan, started as individual settlements and simply grew into each other.

    This whole partition thing sounds like a pretty poor idea. Seems to me, the political incentive may be the desire of Likud and some of the other "Old Beit Shemesh" political groups to form a munipicality they have a chance to control.

    1. From what I've seen, the Likud folks have thrown out the ones that wanted "control" - they all but decimated the local party in order to get a previous leader out, and have rebuilt from the ground up - the leaders who remain, and I can say this about Richard Peres as well, are types who work hard to help anyone in the city. Most of the councilmen don't get paid, and they don't get commercial endorsements either.

  4. Splitting the cities is the only way to get each side the amenities its population needs, and keeping them together is like perpetuating a bad marriage "for the sake of the family." Can you imagine if Ramat Gan had to be governed by the authorities in Bnei Brak or if Modiin Illit needed to be governed by Modiin?

    1. That's not really true Max. There was an election, the people decide who they want as a leader. He'll lead for the next 5 years and in the mean time you can work to get the best out of it, leave or in 5 years there can be another election.

  5. Atara Nurenberger Beck18 March 2014 at 11:19

    I am so opposed to splitting the city. So many of Eli Cohen's hardest-working supporters live in RBS-A and I actually find it offensive that those in regular Beit Shemesh would leave us alone in a city governed by non-Zionist extremists after all the effort and dedication. Furthermore, Abutbol won fair and square, largely because a good number of residents of Beit Shemesh - not the Ramah - didn't bother voting.

  6. Would this mean that the haredi 'hoods would lack sewage and garbage services for lack of arnona payments? And if they want to protest dati-leumi existence, where would the leave their garbage bags of protest if buses circumvent the haredi streets??? If they demonstrate in non-haredi neighborhoods would we be allowed to evict them with the help of police and sue them for trespass? How about suing them for defacing personal and private property with garbage and graffiti?

    1. what a wonderful idea!

      how about we also take a leaf out of the aparthied laws of south africa and only allow Chareidim into BS if they have a valid pass from a resident of BS. if they are caught in town without a pass they can be expelled.

      how about we make anyone who is chareidi walk around with a special mark on their clothing... that way even if they try sneek into old Bet Shemesh we can spot them straight away and remove them before they contaminate our city.

      how about a different idea... how about we accept the results of the election and learn to live with each other.
      if we had a black mayor and you guys said the same things about blacks as you do about chareidim you would find yourself in jail tout suite.

      come on people! grow up!

      the elections were re-run and the city had its say.

      maybe even those who decided not to vote at all in the second elections did so because they didn't want Eli Cohen as their mayor.

      dont try change the rules of the game now that you have lost... you would not have come up with this idiotic idea had Cohen won

  7. If you read Richard Peres' plan he clearly states that RBS A and Ramat Shilo will be part of the Zionist city, not the chareidi one. As an RBS A resident, I think the city split is the only viable option.

    1. Well that certainly makes a lot of sense to take a neighborhood that voted twice about 70 percent for a particular candidate and a particular direction and then give them somebody else.

      what an absurd plan.

    2. That gives new meaning to the idea of gerrymandering. So he wants to break the city up into three (or maybe more) pieces, and have a city without geographical continuity?

    3. Whatever plans our local politicians submit, we will have no guarantees how the actual lines will be drawn by the national committee that takes charge. Which is why it's more the theory than the individuals which has to be thought through here - what will happen with school access, how will adjacent cities coordinate mutual interests, etc.

  8. What plan to split Tzfat? I llive there, and I haven't heard anything?

    1. I heard this, about Bet Shemesh and Sefad, I think on Reshet Bet or Galei Tzahal Radio yesterday. I don't know any details.

  9. Who said a majority of RBS A residents won't to be part of the new non-Chareidi town? Perhaps a majority will want to be part of the Chareidi town.

    Who will decide on the border lines?

  10. How about if we just cut out RBS-B from Beit Shemesh? That way we can cut down the driving time from RBS-A to Sheinfelds by at least 7-8 minutes (more in the mornings).

  11. Along with whole neighborhoods, will we also be able to propose specific individuals who will be cut out of the new Beit Shemesh?!
    I have a few on my list...

  12. Can we also get Eastern Jerusalem for the Arabs for their capital and Northern Jerusalem for the Haredim?

  13. How about a virtual split?

    Each resident can choose if they wish to belong to a Chareidi Iriyah or non-Chareidi one.

    Certain services will need to be shared between the two, for example garbage collection, but things like schools, shuls, libraries etc. can be provided by each Iriyah to its group of residents. If a non-resident wishes to take advantage of such services they would need to pay for it.

  14. How about a Berlin Wall with armed guards down the demarcation line and VISAs required for non-residents?

  15. You quote Robert Frost's poem as your title. It might be instructive to read what the poem actually says. Your readers can draw their own conclusions:
    There where it is we do not need the wall:
    He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
    My apple trees will never get across
    And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
    He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors."
    "Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
    Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
    Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
    What I was walling in or walling out,
    And to whom I was like to give offense.
    Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
    That wants it down."
    ….I see him there
    Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
    In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
    He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
    Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
    He will not go behind his father's saying,
    And he likes having thought of it so well
    He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."


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