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Beit Shemesh - Non-Haredi Parties Unite To Defeat Ultra-Orthodox Mayor

Published on: June 27, 2013 09:33 AM
By: Jerusalem Post
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Moshe Abutbol Moshe Abutbol

Beit Shemesh - The Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi parties have come together in Beit Shemesh to run Aliza Bloch, a unity candidate, against incumbent Shas Mayor Moshe Abutbol in the upcoming October municipal elections.

Bloch announced her candidacy on Wednesday morning during a press conference attended by Yesh Atid MK and local resident Dov Lipman, as well as Bayit Yehudi leader and cabinet minister Naftali Bennett.

Abutbol has been a polarizing figure in Beit Shemesh. He came under criticism last year for his handling of haredi extremists’ attacks on schoolgirls from the Orot Banot school.

Lipman rose to prominence as one of the primary opponents of Abutbol at the time, organizing rallies against the mayor, who he said was soft on the growing extremism in the city.

According to Bloch’s campaign, both the Likud and Hatnua parties have endorsed Bloch, whom Lipman billed as a unifying figure. The current front-runner among the opposition candidates is Eli Cohen, a former senior administrator at the Jewish Agency who is running as an independent.

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The political weight that the parties have thrown behind Bloch – the principal of the local Branco Weiss school – is indicative of just how much Beit Shemesh has become an emblem of the fault lines between secular and ultra-Orthodox.

Violent incidents by extremist “Yerushalmi” sect members against those they deem to be dressed in an immodest fashion; well-publicized incidents of women being made to sit at the back of buses; signs calling for women not to walk in front of synagogues; and the presence of the burka-clad ultra-Orthodox “Taliban women” have all contributed to a negative public image that residents feel has impacted them.

Speaking at the press conference Wednesday morning, Lipman said that voters were “thirsty for a mayor who will unify the city and will truly serve as a mayor for all the city’s citizens and populations.”

“I am proud to stand here as the representative of Yesh Atid and am so happy that we will be running on a joint Bayit Yehudi-Yesh Atid list for city council with Aliza heading the list,” he declared. “I am so happy to see the Likud and Hatnua here as well in support of this candidacy.

We have all worked together over the last few years in dealing with more negative situations, and today we begin a new path, working together to save our city and help it reach its remarkable potential.”

Lipman told The Jerusalem Post that negotiations among the various parties backing Bloch had gone quickly and that she was able to “offer the various parties what they were seeking in terms of influence in the new government.”

According to Lipman, Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid are “trying to work together on a municipal level wherever possible.”

While the two parties entered the governing coalition together with the intention of pushing for policies unpopular among the ultra-Orthodox population – such as a mandatory universal draft that includes yeshiva students – the Beit Shemesh elections will serve as a litmus test for whether the two factions can push their agenda on a local level as well.

Beit Shemesh has everything it needs to be both “prosperous” and a “center of culture,” Bloch said during the press conference, pointing to the city’s diverse population of Russians, Ethiopians, Americans and other groups.

Beit Shemesh, she said, can serve as a “national model of how a large variety” of groups can “live together.”

In a veiled jab at Abutbol, whose opponents have accused him of representing only a narrow sectorial interest, Bloch said that she believed in “unity and not division.”

Bennett agreed, saying that Beit Shemesh should be a “leading city” and that Bloch was a “candidate for all.”

Warning that there was “little time,” Bennett said that anyone who wanted Beit Shemesh to become a “symbol of unity” – in which secular and religious, Ashkenazi and Sephardi could live together – must act now.

The city, he said, could become a symbol of the “integration of the secular and religious and the return of the Jewish soul to the State of Israel.”


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Read Comments (17)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jun 27, 2013 at 10:08 AM honestbroker Says:

If the "chareidim" are upset at being vilified they have only themselves to blame. The extreme behavior of a few and the lack of rabbinical leaders public rejection of this behavior gives the impression that this Taliban like behavior is endorsed by their rabbinical leadership

2

 Jun 27, 2013 at 10:19 AM MyNachas Says:

Wow - Yeah, if there was ever a person who brought together Beit Shemesh it's the Lip-man. Gimme a break. Unifying = anti-chareidi. Same thing it means in the Yesh Atid party. G-d protect us here in Beit Shemesh from people like him.

3

 Jun 27, 2013 at 11:23 AM Phineas Says:

Reply to #2  
MyNachas Says:

Wow - Yeah, if there was ever a person who brought together Beit Shemesh it's the Lip-man. Gimme a break. Unifying = anti-chareidi. Same thing it means in the Yesh Atid party. G-d protect us here in Beit Shemesh from people like him.

Your man made Beit Shemesh livable for only Chareidim. Many American Olim who moved to Beit Shemesh cannot believe the outright unfairness with which the CHareidi bloc ran that town including denial of shul permits to shuls that were Daati Leumi or just plain American Olim who were not affiliated with a political group.

4

 Jun 27, 2013 at 11:56 AM ALTERG Says:

Beit Shemesh will stay holy & religious even the seculer lipman don't like it, he can move to tal aviv or india

5

 Jun 27, 2013 at 12:37 PM Respect Says:

Bet Shemesh has been a mixed city for everyone for forty years. Until recently, everyone had equal treatment.

Over the past few years the inequality has reaches crazy proportions. Half of RBS A doesn't have a women's mikvah while they are building massive parks and playgrounds in only select areas. When we were doing renovations our chareidi contractor gave us a tip that I should be sure to wear my hat and jacket when I applied for the permit as it would be much easier to get things done.

The current mayor may be well meaning but he has outright rejected most of the residents. He has openly called for this to become Bnei Brak, a chareidi city.

As a tax payer who works and learns I find it offensive to be treated as a second class citizen by my government. And I have been.

6

 Jun 27, 2013 at 12:46 PM pbalaw Says:

Reply to #4  
ALTERG Says:

Beit Shemesh will stay holy & religious even the seculer lipman don't like it, he can move to tal aviv or india

seculer lipman?? What are you talking about? Bec he doesn't dress like you he is secular? I would prob eat in his house before yours

7

 Jun 27, 2013 at 01:54 PM heissezali Says:

SOOO?? watya saying? that ur also secular?? wow wee

8

 Jun 27, 2013 at 01:54 PM Facts1 Says:

VIN you have of recent really taken a side on all this, was there really no better picture?

9

 Jun 27, 2013 at 02:17 PM proud-mo-israeli Says:

Bet Shemesh is a horrible place & everyone normal is desperate to leave there.

10

 Jun 27, 2013 at 03:18 PM Shtarker Says:

Bet Shemesh is a clear example of what happens when rabbis effectively run the government. This is where Israel was heading until the last election. Fortunately, the tide has turned.

11

 Jun 28, 2013 at 12:46 AM jack-l Says:

Reply to #4  
ALTERG Says:

Beit Shemesh will stay holy & religious even the seculer lipman don't like it, he can move to tal aviv or india

i think when you were young ,you spent too much time in india.
Then again you probably dont understand my msg.

12

 Jun 28, 2013 at 12:48 AM jack l Says:

Reply to #8  
Facts1 Says:

VIN you have of recent really taken a side on all this, was there really no better picture?

No. The others were worse.

13

 Jun 28, 2013 at 12:55 AM jack l Says:

Reply to #2  
MyNachas Says:

Wow - Yeah, if there was ever a person who brought together Beit Shemesh it's the Lip-man. Gimme a break. Unifying = anti-chareidi. Same thing it means in the Yesh Atid party. G-d protect us here in Beit Shemesh from people like him.

you ever think that all the people that are unhappy with charaeidim might, just might have some valid concerns. Probably not. Whats "other people" ? .....There are other people in my universe?

14

 Jun 28, 2013 at 02:59 AM MyNachas Says:

Reply to #9  
proud-mo-israeli Says:

Bet Shemesh is a horrible place & everyone normal is desperate to leave there.

What? I live here buddy. Bet Shemesh is awesome and people love it here.

15

 Jun 28, 2013 at 02:57 AM MyNachas Says:

Reply to #3  
Phineas Says:

Your man made Beit Shemesh livable for only Chareidim. Many American Olim who moved to Beit Shemesh cannot believe the outright unfairness with which the CHareidi bloc ran that town including denial of shul permits to shuls that were Daati Leumi or just plain American Olim who were not affiliated with a political group.

Please cite an example of the denial of shul permits because they were Daati Leumi or non-affiliated. Made up comments like that are the reason people hate him. They know nothing, they read comments like yours and come up with a negative opinion. He definitely shows favoritism to Chareidim, and that perhaps is result of being the first Chareidi mayor in Bet Shemesh (from what I am told). He may have that bias, but to go to the opposite extreme? He is still a politician who knows that Chareidim in Bet Shemesh are a minority despite the media attention - he is not so foolish.

16

 Jun 28, 2013 at 08:10 AM MyNachas Says:

Reply to #13  
jack l Says:

you ever think that all the people that are unhappy with charaeidim might, just might have some valid concerns. Probably not. Whats "other people" ? .....There are other people in my universe?

Are you addressing this to me? When did I say anything about valid concerns vs. non-valid concerns. I made a point. The purpose of this "unity" is to specifically not have a Chareidi in power. That is its SOLE purpose. They never tried to find another candidate Chas Vshalom from the Chareid camp. Nope. Not even a thought. Because Chareidi = Bad in their eyes. But in your universe its all about judging people like me for defending Chareidim and accusing me that I don't care or think about others. Yeah, you made your point .

17

 Jun 30, 2013 at 12:29 AM ActualJew Says:

my friend lives in ramat bet shemesh near the crazies who spit at little girls and used the hallways as latrines. his stories about these people are literally unbelievable. literally. they are against bike riding because it is too liberating. they walk and move in packs in case any one of them decides to do something like sit on a park bench. i will give other examples bc it is too much.

18

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