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Oct 29, 2013

Bet Shemesh: the greatest third-world city in a first-world country

Bet Shemesh is all over the news again. So far it is just at a national level, as far as I can tell - I haven't seen it mentioned in the international press yet - but still, Bet Shemesh's fame precedes it once again. And this time it is not for violence, but for alleged election fraud after a heated electoral season.

I am calling now Bet Shemesh the greatest third-world city in a first-world country. It seems, if the reports are true, that the banana republic is right here (minus the actual bananas) and there is no need to look all the way to Guatemala to find it... It would be even more ironic if one of our malls had a Banana Republic shop in it...

After a heated election season, it looked like it would all finally be over. Elections were finally here. One would be declared the mayor, and the other would just be a regular city councilman. All we had to do is wait and see which went which way, and then we could all get back to our normal lives.

Alas, it was not meant to be. The incumbent, Moshe Abutbol, eked out what looked like a narrow victory by Wednesday morning, with the vote differential between him and Eli Cohen standing at less than 1000 votes after the final counting. With the differential so small, many people felt like the elections were actually stolen and not fair, after numerous reports of fraud became known, the biggest of which, perhaps, was the arrest of 8 people in an apartment where over 200 identity cards were discovered with disguises for the purpose of voting in the name of other people.

That was by no means the entire story - it might just be the tip of the iceberg. They found 200 - how many of them had already been used to vote with? how many more were there that had not been found at all? Then there were the stories of massive amounts of votes in ballot boxes that somebody ensured were disqualified due to marking the ballots in a way that invalidates them, along with plenty of other stories.

An appeal is being prepared for filing to investigate the elections for fraud and to demand some sort of rectification of the situation - a re-vote, a recount, invalidate certain boxes, validate other boxes. The pressure is mounting. there has already been one massive protest with a convoy of cars snaking its way through the city until it reached the plaza outside the municipal offices at which its members joined a rally calling for a solution. Another rally is planned for tonight, also outside the municipal offices (by the Neimi Mall) at 7 PM. The protest rally is protesting alleged election fraud and demanding an investigation and a reasonable solution.

The media has jumped on thsi story. Bet Shemesh always seems to provide good fodder for them. Politicians have now joined on, with Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon promising an appearance at the protest rally, Deputy Transportation Minister Tzippi Hotovely publicizing a letter calling for new elections in Bet Shemesh

Here are some of the articles about the post-election balagan:
Nana, Globes, NRG, NRG, Jewish Press, NRG, JPost, Bechadrei, JPost, YWN, among many others including many journalists posting to their Facebook pages their thoughts, and one even contacted the Minister of INterior and suggested he establish a committee to look into the claims, and of course the radio and television shows have been all over this.....

We put the 'fun' in dysfunctional, it seems. Whatever happens, hopefully one day soon we will be able to get back to our normal, quiet, lives. And, hopefully one day we will once again be all over the news, local, national and international, but for good things, as being a model for coexistence perhaps, or some other positive situation.

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  1. stories of massive amounts of votes in ballot boxes that somebody ensured were disqualified due to marking the ballots in a way that invalidates them

    It looks like even low-tech paper ballots are subject to hacking as well.

  2. There is now an image available of a letter that Abutbol has issued to all city employees, FORBIDDING them from appearing at the rally tonight!

    1. Here it is:

      Now if only they were so scrupulous before the election, it would be laudable.

  3. All this is why there has been a big drop in DL and Chiloni families moving into Beit Shemesh. Why should they with all the problems as played in the media so often and so loudly. Why involve themselves in this mess.

    Even current DL and chiloni residents are moving out and it is bound to continue and even increase.

    Meanwhile Chareidi families continue their influx into the town unabated. Thereby constantly increasing their demographics and voting power in the town. Not to even mention their higher birth rate.


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