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Jerusalem - Satmar Distances Itself From Vote-Buying Claims

Published on: January 22, 2013 10:59 AM
By: Jerusalem Post
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An Ultra orthodox jews, belonging to Natorei Karta holds up a sign against the Israeli elections in the ultra orthodox neighborhood of mea shearim, Jerusalem, January 22, 2013. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 An Ultra orthodox jews, belonging to Natorei Karta holds up a sign against the Israeli elections in the ultra orthodox neighborhood of mea shearim, Jerusalem, January 22, 2013. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Jerusalem - The ongoing internal debate within Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community regarding the permissibility of participating in elections was highlighted Monday by the presence of signs both for and against voting hung throughout Jerusalem.

Streets in the hassidic neighborhood of Ezrat Torah were blanketed with flyers produced by the fiercely anti-Zionist Satmar sect, whose Rabbinic leader, Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, arrived from the US earlier this week to organize an anti-voting campaign.

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One widely distributed flyer, headlined “Is it forbidden to vote?” stated Jews are neither allowed to receive material benefit from the government or to vote in the “Zionist elections.”

Teitelbaum, addressing an anti-elections rally organized by the hassidic umbrella organization Edah Haredit on Sunday, told members of the ultra-orthodox public that the state of Israel is “this generation’s Amalek, and the Zionists are the offspring of Amalek.”

Speakers at the rally also called the Israel the “state of hell” and other epithets.

One hassid at the rally distributing anti-Zionist stickers to children noted that he believes that it is a “grave Torah prohibition to vote.” This, he explained, is because Judaism forbids Jewish sovereignty in Israel prior to the arrival of the messiah.

However, while several hassidic groups oppose the notion of haredi representation in the Knesset, the non-hassidic ‘Lithuanian’ and sephardic factions believe that voting for parties such as United Torah Judaism and Shas is a religious imperative.

In a letter distributed widely throughout the country, prominent haredi Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky stated that “it is obligatory” to vote for UTJ. “All who do so will merit great success both spiritually and materially,” the Rabbi promised.

Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi and Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef has also deemed voting a religious obligation. In 2006 Yosef even went so far as to curse those “who does not fulfill the word of this Torah” to vote.

“I [decree] a halachah [Jewish law] that one must vote and influence Shas,” Yosef said.

Despite Satmar’s opposition to voting, however, the hassidic group has failed to make good on their alleged promise to pay members of the public 100 dollars each to refrain from casting a ballot.

According to reports, Teitelbaum was slated to distribute money from centers in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak to anyone willing to deposit their identification papers and drivers license for the duration of election day.

However, no evidence for any such activity could be found at the Satmar synagogue in Ezrat Torah, one of the locations claimed in the media as a disbursement center for electoral payments.

Hasidim at the location denied any intention of accepting ID cards, saying that their opposition to elections does not extend to bribery or fraud. Any claims to the contrary, they asserted, were intended to harm their sect’s public image.

One hassid stated that his Rebbe did indeed arrive in Israel with six million dollars, but that the cash was intended to fund educational institutions that refuse to accept money from the Ministry of Education.

“Those who say to vote have their ideology and we have ours,” a second hasid told the Post. “The holocaust was caused by Zionism and it is forbidden to participate in elections or have a share in the state.”

“Haredi MKs will not be able to stop the army enlistment decree and God does not want us to make an effort beyond what he expects of us,” said another. “Why should I vote?”

One bystander, a member of the Lithuanian community, said that he was voting for UTJ because his rabbis instructed that it is necessary to vote for “any party so long as it is haredi.”

Reform Rabbi Uri Regev, the director of the NGO Hiddush and a religious rights advocate, commented that he believes that “either Satmar just wanted attention and did not intend to go through with their offer or they were scared off by all of the negative publicity. There is no doubt in my mind as to the illegality of offering money for not voting. It now looks like Satmar understood that as well.”

According to a complaint by Hiddush to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein against the sect, payments in exchange for boycotting the election are a violation of articles 122 and 123 of the Elections Law.

“Clearly the initiative Hiddush took to involve the Attorney-General and police helped pre-empt a gross violation of the law. We are glad to see that a firm stand on the rule of law can deter religious extremists,” said Regev.

Content is provided courtesy of the Jerusalem Post


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1

 Jan 22, 2013 at 11:15 AM Pleease Says:

"the haredi MKs will not be able to stop the army.... So why should i vote?"
Now they are off track, to say its against the halachah is one thing, to say that having hareidi MKs will not do anything?? Even the arabs know they must vote even thow they will never be in a goverment cabinet

2

 Jan 22, 2013 at 11:33 AM SandmanNY Says:

Satmar does an amazing job with bikkur cholim. They should stick to that. The other things they do make them look angry, cultish, and abusive. They call the Israelis "Amalek", yet they themselves bring us such "loving" people as Neturei Karta and of course Weberman?

3

 Jan 22, 2013 at 11:47 AM DRE53 Says:

“either Satmar just wanted attention and did not intend to go through with their offer or they were scared off by all of the negative publicity"
How about a third posibility - there was never such an intent?
Whould anyone be surprised that this is a fabrication to smear chreidim and satmar particular and picked up by the anti chareidi media?
I did a lot of research on the validity of this story and can tell you that this is a hoax. This and other rumors (such as paying $20,000 to transport rav Zalmen's Yukon to israel) were fabricated by those who have a personal agenda against Rav Zalmen.

4

 Jan 22, 2013 at 11:48 AM Anonymous Says:

I used to vote for Gimmel but after listening to Rav Zalmans speech in Kikar I changed my mind.

Now I'm voting Ivuchartu Bachaim.

5

 Jan 22, 2013 at 12:14 PM Anonymous Says:

Why is there a pic of hirsch in this article? Satmar has nothing to do with hirsch and hirsch has nothing to do with satmar. In fact, the article says the "Lithuanian" haredim support voting, but Hirsch is from the students of the Vilna Gaon

6

 Jan 22, 2013 at 12:22 PM Anonymous Says:

"The holocaust was caused by Zionism".
I always wondered what caused the Holocaust. Thanks for clarifying.

7

 Jan 22, 2013 at 12:26 PM Anonymous Says:

Why is Satmar always different?? They make me want to bury myself. Why when ALL Gedolei Yisroel 50-60 years ago said that it's a Milchemes Mitzvah to go Vote, did Satmar say otherwise? Why when Klal Yosroel gathers at Citifield does Satmar ask for all kinds of compliance in order for them to attend?
The Mishpacha Magazine had a nice article about Satmar the other week, but if you read between the lines you can tell they're simply making fun of Satmar...

8

 Jan 22, 2013 at 01:26 PM FactCheck Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

I used to vote for Gimmel but after listening to Rav Zalmans speech in Kikar I changed my mind.

Now I'm voting Ivuchartu Bachaim.

Sorry, I don't believe you!
There is not even one person that changed there mind.
Whoever was there by the protest, 3/4 were from New York who can't vote, and the rest didn't even plan to vote even before the major major...
And you, how did you "used to vote" if you are an american and live in america???

9

 Jan 22, 2013 at 01:59 PM Yiddl Says:

Reply to #5  
Anonymous Says:

Why is there a pic of hirsch in this article? Satmar has nothing to do with hirsch and hirsch has nothing to do with satmar. In fact, the article says the "Lithuanian" haredim support voting, but Hirsch is from the students of the Vilna Gaon

Satmers are not chasidish they r talmidim from the chasam sofer.

10

 Jan 22, 2013 at 02:26 PM proud-mo-israeli Says:

excellent decision not to vote! I am looking so forward to seeing you all in Tzahal very soon!

11

 Jan 22, 2013 at 02:45 PM TexasJew Says:

Bad week for Satmars.
Maybe they should reorganize and realize the world today is a bit different than 50 or 200 years ago.
I feel bad for them. They need a wake-up call and I hope with their politics and Weberman fiasco, they will think hard about this.

12

 Jan 23, 2013 at 12:23 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Yiddl Says:

Satmers are not chasidish they r talmidim from the chasam sofer.

And the Chasam Sofer was a talmid of the Hafla'ah, who was a chassidishe rebbe

13

 Jan 23, 2013 at 08:02 AM lazerx Says:

there is no on going debate regarding participating in the elections. Most respected rabbis say it is a mitzvah, and a few rabbis in Meah Shariim say it is an averra.
But there is certainly no ongoing debate. no one talks, no one listens. The anti's make their noise and get pictures in the news and then go back to sleep.

14

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