Aug 15, 2011

Tent Protest Updates From Bet Shemesh

Rabbi Dov Lipman posted the following update regarding the Bet Shemesh tent protests over the housing crisis. he graciously gave me permission to post it here:

1) The unity march on Motzei Shabbat was a huge success. While many (including myself) may not agree with some of the messages that were conveyed regarding the broader national tent protest, the fact that over
1,000 residents from all populations (and most importantly Old Bet Shemesh) joined together to demand equality was a very important statement and the Mayor has already made contact with the youth organizers about meeting to discuss their demands.

2) The Likud gathering was also very productive. Minister Yuli Edelstein, MK Danny Danon, MK Ofir Akunis, MK Carmel Shama, and MK Tzipi Hotovely all spoke about their plan to raise the issue of Bet Shemesh and building for all populations in discussions with the Prime Minister. Even more
importantly, Carmel Shama heads the committee with oversight over the Housing Ministry and he plans to address the needs of the Bet Shemesh general population using that platform.

3) The Regional Board for Planning and Construction sat from 9:00a.m. to 7:00p.m. yesterday hearing more objections and moving forward with the objections process. This included hearing from the local planning board, the original designer of RBS Gimmel 2, and asking hard questions from City Councilman Moshe Montag who holds the construction portfolio. During that questioning, Mr. Montag was essentially forced into saying that the general population could purchase the inexpensive apartments in RBS Gimmel 2 and
that plans would be developed a gym, matnas, and pool in the neighborhood.

The members of the board also asked numerous objectors what changes they suggested be made to the plans and most suggested waiting until access roads were built and all infrastructure was in place before beginning construction. 

 A spokesperson for the Housing Ministry also answered questions and admitted that the program for RBS Gimmel 2 was made for one specific population - something which will help the cause if it needs to be taken to court. Now we wait for the regional board to make their decision before knowing what further steps need to be taken.
Thank you to everyone who took part in these actions and I will continue to update when new information comes my way.
Will anything come of all this? Who knows. I don't like the anti-haredi tones (not in the message above but in general regarding the protests), and if they would stay away from that I would be more supportive. Besides for that, it looks like they are running a pretty good protest.
Getting five MKs including a minister to show up for what is considered a relatively small protest group (the smallest protest I saw reported in the papers was 1500. Bet Shemesh was estimated at a bit over 1000 and didnt get mentioned in the papers, but still got 5 MKs) is pretty impressive.


  1. I think it is critical to clarify that in every meeting and speech related to this protest, the most secular of people repeat that this is not against chareidim and that there should be construction for chareidim. They are simply asking that it not be all for chareidim. Chareidim are painting it as "anti-chareidi" but nothing can be further from the truth.

  2. even in the general press (at least in Keren or - I dont remember for sure about Tmura) it is painted as anti-haredi. they are blaming the haredim for everything..

  3. just to be clear, I have no problem criticizing the haredi community (or any other) when they deserve it, which unfortunately happens often enough.
    However, i dont believe they deserve blame for the housing crisis. I dont think Bet Shemesh should be building as much as they are planning without first taking care of upgrading the infrastructure, but once BS is building I see nothing wrong with haredim buying what is being built. Anybody else can buy as well.


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