Mar 17, 2014

Splitting Bet Shemesh

Splitting Bet Shemesh...

Bad idea? Good idea? Gonna happen? Never gonna happen?

The idea and demand to split Bet Shemesh into two separate cities, one general and the second Haredi, has been around for a number of years - well before the recent elections.

The movement never really took off, and truthfully I don't know all the history behind it. The Minister of Interior has rejected it in the past, and the movement never really picked up any steam. Every so often the idea would be floated again, and then would die out, or go silent for a while until the next time. There was even a time when the local haredi askanim tried to promote the idea, when they thought Dani Vaknin was slighting them in the allocation of municipal resources.

As a result of the recent elections, and even partially in the lead-up to the elections, the idea for splitting Bet Shemesh has been raised again.. and this time it is picking up momentum like it never did before.

Personally I am against the idea.

You cannot just decide to split a city because you do not like your new neighbor. Cities, unlike villages/moshavim/yishuvim are not homogeneous - cities, especially large cities, have very diverse sectors living within. Yes, each community has its needs and priorities, and the municipal government has to find the way to use its resources as evenly and "fairly" as possible to provide as much as possible for all the various sectors.

If you don't like your neighbor and can't figure out how to live in the same city, move.

The city, if the split would theoretically be approved, would be divided somehow between the newer [more-] haredi neighborhoods and the older non-haredi neighborhoods. Besides for the main complication in such a division - the actual city lines -  city resources would need to be divided, such as industrial zones, land for future construction, public buildings, etc.

And then, let's say all that can be worked out, what happens then? Will haredim not be allowed to buy homes in Bet Shemesh? What is stopping the same situation from happening again in another few years? Would non-haredim not be allowed to buy homes in Bet Shemesh Ilit (aka Ramat Bet Shemesh)?

People need to learn to live together, and understand and accept the needs of each others communities.

The city needs to provide yeshivot, shuls, mikvaot, and other items for the religious sectors, just as it needs to provide cultural centers, sports facilities, entertainment venues, and other items for the non-religious sectors. I would even say there is a cross of needs (religious need cultural events, and sports, and other things, just like non-religious need shuls and mikvaot, etc., but that's a different discussion). The religious sectors should not be preventing the non-religious from getting their needs provided, and the non-religious should not be preventing the religious from having their needs provided. The city should be providing for all of them equally, as per the resources available.

I suspect that this time the movement to split the city is going to pick up steam and not die out so quickly as it has done in the past. The local branch of the Likud has gotten behind it this time, though I don't know if it is in the form of an official Likud position or if it is just many members of the Likud pushing it. The Likud and its officers has shown itself to be one of the most effective forces in the city. Many of the accomplishments that have happened in the city have been the result of behind-the scenes action by local Likud members. With the leading Likud members behind the idea, it might just continue to gain momentum and become a real issue. With the Likud holding the position of the Ministry of Interior, the local Likudniks hold a lot of sway in national government and could have a good chance of getting the idea taken seriously - if they can really keep the issue in the realm of the public discussion.

They are kicking off the campaign to split the city with a rally this Tuesday evening (6pm at "kikar ha'avatichim").

I am against it, but recently I have come to understand their position better, as I have spoken to more people promoting it. My biggest concern is that if they really get the momentum going, if they really gain traction, the level of hate, from both sides, the screaming, the accusations, the strife, will increase and become unbearable.

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  1. We would still be neighbors, just a different municipality.

  2. This could have been solved very simply by approving more building in Beitar Illit and Kiryat Sefer. This would have alleviated the pressure on RBS. But those settlements (does anyone really think that those will be 'given away'?) have been essentially frozen for some time. Too bad that Haredi politicians and even more so - National Religious and non-religious politicians - do not care to push for building there. They themselves basically sealed the fate of BS.

    IMHO, the war is hopeless. Use the precedents in Bnei Brak (former NR city) and Elad (planned originall to be 1/2 1/2 NR-Haredi). BS is going Haredi and it is inevitable. The recent successful campaign in which the local non-Haredim exploited Lapid (perhaps even giving him those critical illusions of grandeur) and drew so much negative press to BS, that who wants to move there, besides the fact that it's a major hassle to use Route 38, the widening of which is too little, too late.

  3. The movement will die down as long as the current administration can fulfill the needs of all the populations of Bet Shemesh/RBS and prove (unlike, I feel, he did in the past 5 years) that this truly IS a city for everyone. If that does not happen, the split and the animosity that comes with it most likely will gain momentum and my guess is be a reality in the next 5 years.

  4. "The city needs to provide yeshivot, shuls, mikvaot, and other items for the religious sectors, just as it needs to provide cultural centers, sports facilities, entertainment venues, and other items for the non-religious sectors."

    Exactly. And that's part of the problem. Because most of the growth of the city is in the charedi sector, the city builds 100 yeshivot/shuls/mikvaot and 5 matnasim/batei kolnoa/etc. After a few years of this, the chilonim say to themselves "why should I live here and finance all that stuff that I almost never use?" Not only does a city have to be mixed, but the GROWTH also has to be mixed in order to maintain a peaceful coexistence.

  5. I agree with you Rafi both in your thoughts about the lack of desirability of a split and in your fears about what the atmosphere might become as this idea gains momentum.
    What can I say except: Hashem Yerachem.

  6. Time to divide Yerushalayim.
    North for the Charedim
    East for the Arabs

  7. Suddenly, you think that the minority in politics deserves equal resources. Doesn't seem to be the case with the current government that the modox are so happy with.
    You made this race into an unholy war against the Charedim. Now eat the fruits of your labor. No resources should go for the Vatika. NOTHING. If the government will give some resources to the Charedim for all their taxes, we can negotiate then.

  8. SB, Beit ShemeshMarch 18, 2014 9:28 AM

    I vote we split the city, with all the chronic whingers, serial complainers, sore losers and sore winners from both sides in one half, preferably somewhere near Eilat, leaving the rest of us who are sick of all this and just want to get on with our lives, free to do just that. For goodness' sake, you win some, you lose some, stop being such a bunch of crybabies.

  9. < Will haredim not be allowed to buy homes in Bet Shemesh? What is stopping the same situation from happening again in another few years>

    i don't know the growth plans for the projected non-chareidi beit shemesh, but the city could zone any new building sites as being larger apartments or houses, thereby pricing them out of the reach of chareidi buyers.

  10. Very smart, Anonymous. Then who pays for your arnona discount when all the tax-paying base has left the city?

  11. 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).

  12. The level of hate coming from the Haredi press and leadership is already unbearable. It really can't get any worse.

  13. Are there any maps out of the proposals? Would RBS A stick with Bet Shemesh, and leave RBS B and (isn't there a) southern Hareidi Bet Shemeh tip on their own?

    1. I havent seen maps yet. different parties involved have each proposed a different line of division. eventually, if it gets that far, the government would decide the actual division lies.

      RBS A is probably the biggest question regarding a split, besides the industrial zones. In the end, if a spit would happen, most likely it would end up in haredi bet shemesh.


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