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Oct 6, 2013

Bet Shemesh elections: Moshe is nice but I am voting Eli

I admit that I am a bit surprised by the number of people in the haredi-anglo community who have sent me comments saying they are supporting Eli Cohen but can only do so quietly and anonymously, for understandable reasons, as well as people who want me to post things for them here. Not everything can be posted, for a variety of reasons, but here is another...

Guest Post by Anonymous Haredi-Anglo in RBS

I attended a meeting along with about seventy others with the current mayor Moshe Abubtol in the new Anglo shul Shaarei Tefillah last night. He had apparently requested to come and hear the residents' issues and to address them. He was assisted by Aharon Ungar who gave a brief introduction, including the illogical claim that Eli Cohen would open entertainment on Shabbos, then allow shops to be open on Shabbos which would force their traditional workers to work then, and then allow public transportation on Shabbos which would bring in people from the non-religious moshavim to Beit Shemesh. Also Dr Dov Rosen translated to and for him.

A push is being made to make the municipality and the mayor more accessible to Anglos, and one full- and one part-time worker will staff an office on the same floor as the mayor and assist in Anglo-related issues, as well as the mayor having a monthly meeting with Dr Ephraim Rosenblaum from Leumit to discuss special issues. This has been put in writing and was conditional on different Anglo doctors and activists actively supporting the mayor now.

Many challenging questions were posed to the mayor, for example one by a realtor asking why the city is so dirty and as a result he loses clients from abroad who do not want to live in such an unclean city. I will not say all his answers (the realtor for example was told to show his clients the park on Dolev and to come to the mayor for a tour), just some general impressions. Abutbol genuinely seems like a very nice, caring person who is intimately acquainted with many Rabbonim and activists and is aware of many of the problems Anglos have, and has a real desire to help. In many issues he is limited, for example it is not the municipality's domain (the request for more policing at night should be directed to the government Internal Security ministry, the request for more afternoon activities for girls should be directed to the Education Department, although the city has provided a lot of services for special-needs children). In a sense though the city needs money to build more schools, hire more cleaners (eight(!) more have been hired since the mayor finally took over the municipal cleaning department after Pesach and one should be able to see the difference already) etc. etc. How does the city get more money? By building more houses in RBS Gimmel. Then the government will give more money, most of which will go there, but the remainder can be used for RBS Aleph and Beit and BS. Also by building more malls the city can collect more arnona. (Of course taking away the discount for avreichim is out of the question!) The bottom line is have patience. In a few more years things may get better, but in the meantime more residents, more traffic, but not many changes. And as a closing comment the mayor clarified that all the answers he has given do not matter, and one should vote for him because he has been endorsed by Rav Shteinman, Rav Chaim Kanievsky and Rav Ovadiah Yosef, so there you have it!

I didn't get a chance to ask my question, which was that in the New York Times in November 2007 http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/02/world/middleeast/02orthodox.html?pagewanted=print&_r=0 there are a few lines about the violencein RBS Beit. Now it is headline news everywhere and people all over the world know about the problems here, giving the city a terrible name. This is due to the attitude of tolerance and lack of condemnation from the mayor himself.

It would be nice to hear from Eli Cohen how he intends to fund the changes he would like to make, and what they are. I sense some people were satisfied with the answers Abutbol offered, many people were not but will vote for him anyway because the gedolim said to, or because they fear Eli Cohen will be worse, and some people like myself have heard positive things about Eli Cohen and will take a chance, assuming he can't be any worse and hopefully a lot better. I doubt a Charedi shul will host him alone, which is unfortunate, although maybe a debate between him and Abutbol could be staged, like the one five years ago in Beit Tefillah between Abutbol and Lerner.

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  1. Ah, now I understand why the doctors are supporting Abutbol. It's so that they can get this monthly meeting. And he in return has promised a meeting (no big deal) in order to be able to plaster their faces all over his campaign. (Until now, I couldn't understand why they were so excited about him.)

  2. Who cares who these doctors are voting for? They are nice guys who don't believe in the things most of the rest of us do - they've pulled their own kids out of mainstream schools like Magen Avot, they are doctors but doom their own sons to no high school diploma....

  3. People should not be fooled by Abutbol's "answers".
    For example, you ask him about crime, and he says, I don't control the police. I am not the sheriff, I'm the mayor. (That's an actual quote he said. I heard him myself). BUT: he could install security cameras all over, provide more lights on the path behind Lachish, demand that builders have to put 1% of their profits towards a fund that compensates people who were robbed, demand that all builders provide documents, photos (and maybe prints) of long-term workers on the projects,,,he could demand that the police release crime statistics and try to pressure them. No, he can't hire cops, BUT IF HE CARED HE COULD HELP A LOT!!!!!
    Why hasn't he gotten classrooms for our local schools? He could have demanded that the builders in gimmel build a school or two, and then that space could have helped our kids. BY girls are in caravans, schools don't have buildings... where is he?

  4. "for understandable reasons,"

    spell it out for a foreigner like myself: kids kicked out of school, cherem in shul?

  5. yes and yes. or maybe just pressure and anger.


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