Tel-Aviv - Deri, Haredi Politicians Concerned For Haredi Votes
Tel-Aviv - Haredi politicians from both Shas and United Torah Judaism took to the streets of ultra-Orthodox strongholds on election day, in a final and massive effort to get out the vote amid concerns for their electoral showing.
MKs from UTJ were especially active, traveling around the country to the partyâ€™s regional headquarters in cities such as Elad, Ramat Beit Shemesh, Modi’in Illit, Bnei Brak and beyond, in order to help boost the ultra-Orthodox turnout and the haredi partiesâ€™ share of the vote.
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At the same time the haredi politicians issued dire warnings throughout the day about the consequences for the ultra-Orthodox world if there was not high voter participation in the community.
And Shas triumvirate leader Arye Deri sounded uncharacteristically doubtful that his party would emerge with any significant electoral gains.
â€śI believe we will see an increase [in Knesset seats for Shas], any increase will be an achievement,â€ť he said.
â€śIt must be remembered however that we have two parties competing with us who will not pass the electoral threshold but will eat into our share of the vote by almost two mandates,â€ť he explained, referring to the new Am Shalem and Koah Lehashpia parties.
UTJ party chairman Yisrael Eichler said that he was worried about â€śthe increased turn out in non-religious areasâ€ť while visiting the partyâ€™s operation in the haredi city of Elad.
â€śThis shows that the main issue in this election is not diplomatic, security or economic or security concerns but that there is a war against God and his Torah.â€ť
Speaking on haredi radio station Kol Hai, Eichler went further and said that possible changes to the electoral system that may be advanced in the coming Knesset would greatly reduce the political power of the haredi parties, imposing even greater obligations on the haredi public to come out and vote.
The haredi rabbinic and political leadership has repeatedly declared this election to be a time of religious emergency due to proposed legislation they see as threatening to the ultra-Orthodox world, lifestyle and interests.
Proposed legislation to rescind the mass exemptions from military service which full-time yeshiva students were able to claim until last August is one of the principle issues of concern for the haredi leadership.
During his election day campaign tour, UTJ MK and Deputy Education Minister Menachem Eliezer Moses said that the election was â€śa critical time which will determine the future of the haredi community,â€ť while senior party MK and Knesset Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni said that every haredi person must vote.
â€śThis is a fateful election, no-one can stay at home,â€ť he declared.
Meanwhile, former MK and UTJâ€™s third placed candidate Meir Porush spent a busy day touring Elad, Rehovot, Kiryat Malachi and Kiryat Gat; Gafni visited Modi’in Ilit and Elad; Deputy Health Minister and UTJ MK Yaakov Litzman went to drum up the vote in Rishon Leâ€™Tzion and Kiryat Sanz in Netanya; Mozes toured Kiryat Gat and Modi’in Ilit; while UTJ fourth placed candidate Uri Maklev dropped in on Ramat Beit Shemesh and Rehovot to boost haredi turnout.
And the rabbinic leadership of the haredi world was also active on election day. Shas spiritual leader 92-year old Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was up early in the morning to cast his vote and broadcast an election day message on Facebook.
â€śWe should all vote to strengthen the Torah, to strengthen Judaism and the Jewish people,â€ť said Yosef, who suffered a mild stroke last week. â€śI turn to the Sephardim in particular to say to all who love the Torah that everyone should go and vote for the Shas movement and fulfill the commandment of strengthening the Torah.â€ť
Spiritual leader of the Ashkenazi haredi non-hassidic world Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, 98, fasted all day and recited psalms for the success of UTJ at the polls, while 85 year-old Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, perhaps the second most respected rabbi in the haredi community, voted in his home town of Bnei Brak just after seven oâ€™clock in the morning.
Content is provided courtesy of the Jerusalem Post
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