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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
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Is TOV Good Enough for Beit Shemesh?

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With the chareidi political forces now girding their loins to strongly oppose the proposed new IDF enlistment law, the voice of the middle ground is more important than ever, yet perhaps too soft to be heard at all.

TOV (“good”)  is a relatively young political party, led by Chanoch Verdiger, the son of the late long-standing MK Avraham Verdiger. TOV claims to represent “working chareidim”.

A Tov Facebook page states:

TOV is the modern successor to Poalei Agudath Yisrael. TOV aims to assist the Haredi community face the social and economic challenges it faces today enabling community members to earn an honorable living, educate their children in excellent school systems while enjoying a good quality of life as other citizens of Israel.

TOV stood in five cities for local council in the October 2013 municipal elections – Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Beitar, Emanuel and Elad.

However, the results were disappointing, as TOV did not succeed to win a seat in any of these elections.

In Beit Shemesh, where they were widely projected to increase their one seat representation at city hall to win two seats, the party garnered 1299 votes – shy of the 1355 needed for local party leader Aharon Solomon to win a single seat.

TOV’s stand together with Zionist candidate Eli Cohen, rather than the Chareidi mayor Moshe Abutbul, together with voter confusion at the ballots (TOV’s voting slip said עד, whereas Eli Cohen’s party, confusingly had טב), may have resulted in losing several hundred votes on election day.

However, with the overturning of the October 2013 election results, due to widespread and systematic fraud, by the Jerusalem District and then Supreme Court, TOV will now have a second chance to reach city hall in the new elections on 11th March.

Since the announcement of new elections, TOV have zig-zagged.

Initially Solomon publicly announced he would not be running; his number two, Rav Avrohom Leventhal, would therefore automatically take the number one slot on the party list.

Solomon then back-tracked, and retained his place at the head of the local list.

There was much back-and-forth about whether TOV should continue to support mayoral contender Eli Cohen, or the Shas Party incumbent Mayor, Moshe Abutbul.

This week, the party leadership decided the most pragmatic place for TOV to be, regarding endorsement of the mayor, is firmly on the fence, announcing: Tov has chosen to refrain from endorsing a specific candidate for mayor and encourages its voters to choose whom they wish for mayor of Bet Shemesh.  The Tov party has the unique position to be a bridge between the diverse communities in our city who yearn for achdut and harmony.

Furthermore, TOV have pushed that their voting slip is עד, not טב, hoping to avoid TOV supporters inadvertently voting for another party.

..the party members chose to run again for Bet Shemesh city council under the letters עד…. Remember that Tov’s letters on the ballot are עד

I wish TOV the best of luck in the new elections – the TOV middle path between the two power blocks of the Chareidim, backing Moshe Abutbul, and Zionists, backing Eli Cohen, in the contentious Beit Shemesh – is admirable.

Particularly against the backdrop of the gathering storm clouds over the Enlistment Bill, and the increased polarization between the Chareidi establishment, and the rest of the country.

TOV’s voice of moderation, particularly in Beit Shemesh, and particularly now, is important.

Even if it is apparently not so popular with the voters.

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About the Author: David Morris has been nominated for the President of Israel's Prize 2010. He is an entrepreneur in the fields of charity and electro-optics; Established Lema'an Achai ("For My Brothers"), the innovative community social services charity in Ramat Bet Shemesh, "Magen", the Bet Shemesh Child Protection Agency, and "Yad LeYedid" (A Hand to a Friend) charity helping impoverished families in Jerusalem. His day-job as Owner/CEO of Scitronix Ltd is marketing sophisticated electro-optical products to high tech industries in Israel. David is the proud dad of six amazing children, and luckiest-husband-in-the-world of Julie Morris.


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