Jun 26, 2017

Halbertal on the main export of Bet Shemesh

I'm really not sure what to do with this...

Dov Halbertal, writer of many provocative and extreme op-eds in the Haredi press has written a piece about Bet Shemesh. You can read the full op-ed in Hebrew, though I will summarize the main points here:
Halbertal says the only news coming out of Bet Shemesh is only about violence in the city - we hear nothing important from Bet Shemesh, nothing but violence.

Halbertal points to a number of recent instances of violence that made the headlines around the country. again, Bet Shemesh only produces violence.

Halbertal isn't impressed with the regular response of "it is just a small number of extremists making all the trouble. He says this changes nothing - the city has a bad name, a name that precedes it. Violence is the profession of Bet Shemesh.

Halbertal instead blames the violence on the mayor, Moshe Abutbol - not that e wants it or causes it, but he simply does not deal with it. Abutbol is a Shas man, and if it is not tied to Shas, it does not exist. Halbertal says Abutbol should not even be mayor, but somehow because of political maneuvering among political parties, he became the mayor, even though Shas is a minority in the city. Halbertal points to this as another sign of the backwardness of Bet Shemesh - he says anywhere the mayor of a city is from Shas, things are not run in a modern and properly ethical way. Halbertal says a mayor should be chosen by his capabilities and not just by which party he is affiliated to.

Halbertal also points to the elections of a new chief rabbi in bet Shemesh. Again, the political parties are electing the Chief Rabbi rather than the residents. In Shas we only have Deris and Yosefs and their immediate relatives, and Shas chooses them, without even thinking about any conflict of interests or concern for appearances.

Halbertal concludes by saying Bet Shemesh is the prime example of everything bad. he says we should have brought in a goy from abroad to manage the city and deal with the violence as his top priority. Until then, whatever happens, Halbertal says, the current mayor should be fired.

I don't know what suddenly prompted this op-ed. The issues happening in Bet Shemesh have been happening for a number of years already.

It almost hurts me to say that everything Halbertal is saying are things that I myself, and many other people, have said many times, especially during the last elections. It hurts me because I really do not like Halbertal and almost never agree with what he has to say. While I am no longer active locally, this op-ed hit me. It hit me because it is years too late. It hit me because it is now coming from mainstream Haredi "askanus", and I and many others were vilified for saying things like this just a short time ago.

I would like to add that Halbertal ignores the wonderful people who live in Bet Shemesh, the wonderful communities, the wonderful chessed organizations, the shuls, the immense number of Torah learning programs, the numbers of yeshivas and kollels, of bochurim and avreichim, the amazing baalei batim who work hard to live frum lives dedicated to torah and mitzvos while working and supporting families and mosdos and also set aside time to learn consistently, the amazing women who work to support their beautiful families or work raising beautiful families. There is the development of the city, which is actually very impressive, despite some problems of infrastructure and graffiti and garbage collection and dirty streets and whatnot - the city is growing by leaps and bounds with an influx of residents to new neighborhoods, with the construction of new malls and businesses and the ever-increasing various mosdos torah of all types and stripes. Halbertal doesn't mention the creativity of brilliant businessmen and businesswomen, entrepreneurs, startups, businesses that provide parnassa to hundreds and thousands of residents, and creativity and advancement to the world.

Halbertal ignores all that, but it is not his fault. Halbertal is talking about how Bet Shemesh is perceived around the country - not how it runs internally. The problem with Bet Shemesh has never been the majority of its people and mosdos. The problem is the external appearance. the regular violence that keeps on happening with no end in sight and no serious attempt by the mayor to deal with it. Yes, the police are ultimately responsible to deal with violence, but there is a lot the mayor can do, and the first step is to show commitment to dealing with it.

Anyways, nobody is firing Abutbol. At most, in a couple of years there will be new elections and maybe the Haredi parties will decide not to support Abutbol, considering Shas is a minority party and they no longer need him to win by taking a portion of the Old Bet Shemesh traditional sefardim, as the ashkenazi haredi will be the majority. Again, everything will be chosen by parties rather than by qualifications, but that is the system. Bet Shemesh did not invent it.

Halbertal is right, but he is too little too late, and saying the solution is to fire the mayor is useless. Nobody is firing the mayor, and nobody could fire the mayor even if they wanted to. It is easy to say, but that is not how the system works.

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  1. I have since long ago switched radio stations if I hear him talking, but nice to see that he might be right part of the time.

  2. Revamp politics & elections in the holy land.
    "Representation from the populace"


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