Nov 27, 2011

Email Of The Day: Bet Shemesh Visits London

Email Of The Day

The following email was sent to the community email list the other day:
Just had a report back from participants in the London Israel Fair.
Beit Shemesh was the only city that paid for a double booth. All other cities had one
Beit Shemesh was the only city that had the mayor there. He does not speak English
Beit Shemesh was the only one that had more than 2 staff. The mayor took 4 other people with him

In total they had less than 30 people that came to their booth throughout the day.

Beit Shemesh spent more of our tax money on this fair than did Jerusalem, Modiin, Ra’anana, Ashdod and Haifa.
How can we publicize this travesty and attempt to stop it?
This is only one amongst many trips that the mayor had us pay for that he had absolutely no impact.
If we don’t voice our anger at his abuse of our tax shekels it will only continue.
All helpful input welcome
Now, I have not been shy about criticizing the mayor when I think he deserves it, which has been often enough. (On occasion I have even praised him for some good things he has done (such as actually getting construction going on Road 10, finally getting the government to begin the approval process for upgrading Highway 38, renovating the entrance to the city, etc).)

I wrote back to the author a brief message saying:
when he doesnt try to attract buyers from the general public we are upset at him, and now when he does try to attract buyers we are also upset at him?

The fact that he met with poor results should be addressed. Perhaps he needs better advisers, different marketing strategy or whatnot. I would not exactly want to accuse him of trying too hard.
By this I meant that the fact that he went, brought others with him, and got a good booth should not be an issue to complain about. One could complain that perhaps there isn't enough oversight in the City Hall to ensure money is being spent properly, proper marketing strategies are being developed, and the like. The initial complaint sounded more like the mayor is wasting our money by going to these things. Reading it again now, it might just be the additional point that they mayor went as well despite not speaking any English.

In general, we accuse the mayor of not trying to attract people to the city. When he does actually go (again, it should be with the right people who can talk to potential olim, with the right marketing strategy), we should be proud that he is trying and not accuse him of abusing us. He might not be perfect even when he does try, but at least he is trying, or making the attempt to show he is trying.

The original author wrote back to me that his complaint was really about how the money was wasted. My initial reading had not left me with the impression that that was the only complaint, but so be it.

After that, the issue seems to have mostly been resolved, I assume, by a posting from the Acting Director, Dept. of International Relations in the Municipality of Beit Shemesh that said:
I organised the Beit Shemesh delegation to the Aliyah Fair in London.

I feel you should IMMEDIATELY retract your statements about the City paying for a double booth. What you are saying is based on hearsay evidence and may be libellous. Beit Shemesh paid for a single booth and the organiser of the event, the Aliyah Chief in the UK Mr. Rafi Nasi GAVE us the double booth AT NO EXTRA COST. If you do noot believe me then please contact him.

As to your other points - I received approval from the Municipal Council to arrange our delegation which included: Mrs. Tami Elmaleah Co-ordinator for English speaking Aliyah at the Municipality, and Mrs Miri Shalem the director of the RAMBASH MATNAS who while living in the UK was a youth aliyah Bnei Akiva co-ordinator. I myself made aliyah from the UK.

Mayor Abutbul does not speak English but he spoke Hebrew to former Israelis living in the UK and who expressed interest in possibly living in Beit Shemesh. He also spoke in 7 synagogues between Friday morning when we landed and Sunday. The mayor also answered questions from parents of people living in Beit Shemesh who are concerned about the situation here. I translated for him. Since our Foreign Minister did not for a very long time speak English that is why he has translators.

You may not like or agree with the policies of the Mayor, but these fairs are important to ensure the city attracts young, educated professional people and families who work for a living, otherwise they really will go to Modiin, Jerusalem and Haifa and we will be left with the rest.


  1. I am very pleased about this. No criticism of this is justified. I normally am one of the first to criticize the mayor/iriya but on this, all I will say is "Kol Hakavod", and I hope to see some olim join us in the not too distant future.

  2. In the official response, he doesn't say who the other two people were who traveled and why. It also doesn't interest anybody that he "received approval from the Municipal Council to arrange our delegation". That is what the complainant is complaining about.

    The honorable Acting Director, Dept. of International Relations in the Municipality of Beit Shemesh obviously can't say this about his boss, but from his description, the mayor probably should have stayed at home. I have never heard him speak well in Ivrit and through a translator, I cannot imagine that he came over to the discerning British public as being in any way impressive. He would have done better to send (English speaking) PR professionals only.

  3. Nice job getting all sides of the story. I agree with you - the mayor should get credit where credit is due, and it sounds like in this case, credit, not blame, is due. We have to be careful that all of these haredi-dati conflicts don't poison our minds from evaluating community affairs in a fair way.

  4. Free trips to LondonNovember 27, 2011 3:11 PM

    "...and we will be left with the rest." Well, that's what the city really wants: non working Haredi Kollel families. Sounds like a free trip to London on our expense.

  5. I think that was a slip of his tongue and an amusing one at that given Abutbul's clearly stated view that Beit Shemesh is on its way to be the new Bnei Brak. Either he's lying that he wants anglo professional olim or else he just wants them to foot the arnona bill for his Bnei Brak wannabe.

  6. With all this money available for marketing Bet Shemesh to attract professional olim to the area, what efforts are being made to stem the flood of disillusioned olim (and Israelis) from leaving Bet Shemesh? Wonderful people who have contributed hugely to the community, but who have had enough of the mayor's attempts to turn this city into the next Bnei Brak.


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