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Dec 16, 2012

Hiddush Wants More Haredim To Vote

Is Satmar guilty of election bribery? You be the judge..

There was a report last week that Satmar made an offer to various educational institutions that if their members would refrain from voting in the upcoming Israeli elections, they would be given a gift/grant/donation of 100,000 NIS.

The Hiddush organization for freedom of religion has filed a petition with the Attorney General claiming that Satmar has committed the crime of election bribery by making this offer. It is perfectly alright for them to not vote, but to pay other people to not vote is bribery.
(source: Kikar and Ladaat)

I don't expect anyone in Satmar will be arrested over this, and I think the chances are high that the ploy will backfire on Hiddush.

Think of it like this - from the perspective of a non-religious, or specifically and anti-orthodox, person (or organization. I think I would hope that the haredi parties would lose a lot of political power in the elections. That can be accomplished in two ways:
1. getting the non-orthodox vote out in numbers never previously seen
2. hoping the orthodox will show up in smaller numbers than ever before, and perhaps find ways to create a lack of interest or enthusiasm among them to make them disinterested in voting.

I don't know which is easier, but it seems Satmar was trying to do the work for the anti-orthodox. If Satmar would be left alone and give away money for people to not vote, less political power will be the result for the ultra-orthodox parties. How much less depends on how many organizations would take Satmar up on the offer, but from the perspective of the anti-orthos, every bit should be important, especially in an election in which the haredi parties are already split and looking at a possible election disappointment.

Instead, Hiddush is protesting the "bribe", which means they are basically encouraging more haredim to go out and vote for haredi parties, thus gauranteeing that the haredim will end up with more political power that Hiddush will protest later.

Perhaps that really is the entire point - by protesting this, they guarantee themselves more work later, rather than get closer to meeting their goals now.

Yes, it's a bit of a convoluted train of thought, but I think it works.

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  1. Or, knowing that Hiddush wants to stop the "bribe", more Charedi institutions will accept the money and not vote, than would have otherwise :)

  2. I agree with your analysis, but Hiddush is consistent in insisting that there be no election bribery including bribing people not to vote, even if the outcome is the strengthening of Haredi parties.

  3. Anon 20:02 beat me to it. It's an old trick reminiscent of Brer Rabbit's "Oh please, don't throw me in the briar patch!" If Hiddush wants Haredim to vote, then the Haredim will darn well show them that they will exercise their right not to vote, even without the Satmar bribe.

  4. I see it as the opposite - the haredi street will see it as an attack on haredim and will rally around and be more encouraged to vote.

  5. I believe that Hiddush wants anti-charedi organizations to know that Satmar institutions are open to bribes.

  6. Satmar has gone even further. They are now offering $100 to any individual who promises not to vote, see Wanna make a quick and easy $100?


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