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Sep 15, 2011

Mayor of Bet Shemesh Moshe Abutbol Backing Down On OROT and Support of Kannoim

It seems that Mayor of Bet Shemesh Moshe Abutbol has been coming under increasing pressure from a variety of sources. I do not know if he actually realizes how stupid it was to come out on the side of the kannoim/thugs, or if he is just finally beginning to succumb to pressure to change his approach. Either way, he is beginning to backtrack a bit from his previous stance.

Pressure is mounting on Abutbol from:

  •  Jewish organizations abroad. As Abutbol travels the world looking for support and funding for the city and its massive construction plans, he sells his ideas on Bet Shemesh being a diverse city with open arms welcoming new olim of any stripe. Organizations that have been supportive are now getting upset as they realize they have been hoodwinked by him. While he talks a good game, they were recently made aware of documentation that shows he directed the changes in plans to style the future neighborhoods specifically to be attractive to haredi buyers and unattractive to others. As well, sagas like the OROT school have also raised their awareness of where Abutbol's true intentions lie. 
  • Shas is beginning to get upset with Abutbol. As they try to convince other cities to open up their cities to construction, and at times to even agree to build new areas for haredim or for Shas supporters, they are beginning to meet opposition. City representatives are pointing to bet Shemesh and saying look what happens when you guys put your people into a city, and we do not want that here. they are finding it difficult to get agreements on building in other cities.
  • Shas, as well, is upset because the natural allies of Shas are far more Zionistic than the kannoim/thugs. In many cities, Shas representatives partner with Mafdal and even Likud, and not necessarily with UTJ, and in some places there is no UTJ. Shas's natural voter base is largely working class, baalei teshuva, masorati, zionistic, army-serving people. The situation in bet Shemesh is causing pressure on the national Shas level as they are beginning to feel alliances slipping away as people look at Bet Shemesh.
In light of the above, Abubtol is beginning to back down. Abutbol sent the following letter to the representatives of a number of Jewish organizations, Washington, Los Angeles, and South Africa

I would like to see such a letter written in Hebrew and posted in the newspapers of Bet Shemesh, especially in Chadash. if not, this is just like the Palestinians (which Abutbol and his speaker Rosenzweig like to compare the haredi community to) when they say one thing in English to the world community but in Arabic to their own people they say completely different.


  1. This letter is not back-track but rather smooth-talking whitewash. While it is apparent from this letter that he is getting pressured from places he would rather not anger, he is lying his way out. I hope the recipients of the letter can detect a worthless piece of paper when they see one.

  2. Did he sign that with the pen up his nose? or between his toes?

  3. it looks like a how a third grader might sign his name

  4. Even in this letter in English and in response to pressure, I don't see the Mayor backtracking much -- and not at all by doing anything about it.
    The only pro-Orot statement that I can find in this letter is that "the basis of the solution must be that the girls continue to study within the school grounds".
    Absurdly, he states that this solution will somehow come about through negotiation led by his "team of good people" between the sides (as if NK extremists can be negotiated with), implies moral equivalence between the sides by at no time condemning the extremists specifically but rather "all violence, whether verbal or physical..or threats by any resident of Beit Shemesh against his neighbor" -- which can and will be read by extremists to apply equally to our shouting at them to leave the school area, etc. or otherwise fighting back.
    Nowhere in the letter does the Mayor promise to do anything (other than somehow initiate negotiation between the parties) -- like, say, promise the girls' at Orot continued police protection or action against the extremists.
    If this is the best we get in English and after pressure....

  5. its a start. he already lost this particular battle/ he should have done an about-face a long time ago. He should really never have gotten himself into this mess, and he should not have taken the side of the thugs at all. once he did though, he should have done an about-face quickly, or at least when he saw the decision being taken out of his hands.

    Even now with him changing his statements, it is still just incremental changes, slow moves. for right now it does not matter - he lost this battle. as long as we can "win" more battles, and continue to force him to change his opinion and stances little by little, we might come out ahead.

  6. he has the signature of a six year old.

  7. Complaints about Mayor Abutbul's English calligraphy are somewhat misplaced in this forum.

    I have only been reading "Life In Israel" for a matter of months, but I am always astonished at other contributors pleading for Hebrew texts to be translated into English!

    Most readers/contributors live in RBS, and I think it is fairly safe to assert that all are religiously orthodox Jews. Given that, why is that they cannot read simple Hebrew when it appears here?

    Save your criticisms of Abutbul's signature in English until *you* can read and write colloquial Hebrew!

    Until then ...

  8. Unfortunately, he did not say what he should have as *mayor* of a city - "I will see that the law is fully enforced, and that citizens' rights are protected vigorously, beginning with assuring safety and quiet for the girls attending the school and their families."

    Personally, I doubt he intends to pursue that matter properly or vigorously.

  9. what I find telling about your mayor is his power trip that is obvious in the letter. he keeps reffering ti the city as "my city". he does this twice. he doesn't say OUR city, but MY city. As a public servant, that phrase indicates to me that he sees himself not as a public servant, but as a godfather or dictator.

  10. That signature looks like this was written by the star English student Moshe Abutbol from Ironi Bet.

  11. The Curmudgeonly Israeli Giyoret says:

    "Save your criticisms of Abutbul's signature in English until *you* can read and write colloquial Hebrew!"

    I can read and write in Hebrew, but my Hebrew signature looks like someone who was never properly taught handwriting. I wonder why...


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