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September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Beit Shemesh’

Attorney General May Appeal to Court for New Elections in Beit Shemesh

Monday, November 25th, 2013

The smell of election fraud in Beit Shemesh is beginning to stink so much that residents may get a chance to flush the sewage and vote a second time for a mayor, perhaps without phony voters.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is considering an appeal to the courts to order new municipal elections in the city in the wake of deepening suspicions by police investigators of widespread fraud among Haredi backers of incumbent Mayor Moshe Abutbul.

The Justice Ministry told Israel Radio, which reported on Weinstein’s concerns Monday, that the attorney general is following the police probe and will issue a decision in several days concerning an appeal to the courts. A court order to cancel elections and hold a re-run is rare but not without precedent.

The recent election was bitterly fought between Jewish Home candidate Eli Cohen and Mayor Abutbul, backed by the Shas party. Abutbul won a narrow victory, winning 51.9 percent of the vote while Cohen won 46.1 percent.

Jewish Home hollered ”foul” and raised questions whether Abutbul’s voters really were the same people who cast the ballots.

A police raid on two homes before the elections last month uncovered 250 false identification cards that people intended to use to cast extra ballots.

Eight people were arrested, and police found several hats in the homes, indicating that people had intended to change their appearance to represent people who were not in the city at the time of the voting.  Supporters for Jewish Home candidate Cohen also accused Shas activists of throwing out some ballots that had been cast in favor of Cohen.

Police investigators have discovered that the alleged fraud ran far and deep, and Israel Radio said there are suspicions that many more people were involved.

Beit Shemesh has been deeply divided over the past several years between local secular and national religious communities on one side and Haredi and extreme Haredi groups on the other.

The bitterness in the city has caught brought unwanted international attention to Beit Shemesh, which has a large number of Americana and British immigrants.

Violence and hate attacks reached the point where one Haredi man spat on a young girl, daughter of American olim, who eventual left the city.

Mayor Abutbul and the Awkward Issue of Beit Shemesh Child Abuse

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Rapidly turning into a theater of the absurd, Beit Shemesh’ newly re-elected mayor has jumped right into more trouble.

In parallel to the series of damning reports about abusive election practices which may have enabled Moshe Abutbul to earn his second term in office as mayor, two new reports were published over the weekend.

The most popular, was a six minute piece by Shay Stern on Channel 10, which uses confrontational cynical humour to draw out interviewees, and focused on Beit Shemesh.

Stern interviews Eliran Cohen, an openly gay man who lives in Beit Shemesh. Liron states that there are (of course) many other gays in Beit Shemesh; furthermore, Eliran says he personally knows Moshe Abutbul who is well aware of Eliran’s orientation for many years.

In Stern’s interview with Moshe Abutbul, he claims “there are no gays in this pure and holy city” and that if there were, “they would be dealt with by the ministry of health and police.”



For the press, it was such a good scoop, they couldn’t make this stuff up.

In a follow-up interview on Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) Moshe Abutbol was asked about his statement regarding gays.

Abutbul awkwardly responded that he hadn’t understood the term “gays,” and had thought it meant “pedophiles.”

Although Abutbul is ultra-orthodox, he is by no means closeted. Abutbul was not brought up ultra-orthodox, he served in the army (as a driver), taught in public schools, and hosted a radio show, and it is not plausible that he doesn’t know what “Gays” means.

While his explanation seems to give a context to his remark about health services and police, it still leaves the unexplained claim that “they don’t exist in our pure and holy city”.

Magen,” the Beit Shemesh Child Protection Center, has received around one hundred reports of child abuse so far in 2013 in Beit Shemesh – of which over 85% are allegations of sexual abuse of children.

Which leads us to the other report about Beit Shemesh published in Makor Rishon and Maariv over this past weekend.

In an expose article entitled “How Did an Ultra-Orthodox Chasidic Layman Become a Dominant Influence in the Beit Shemesh Welfare Department?” journalist Yifat Ehrlich wrote about the role of one Amram Rotter.

Apparently, Amram Rotter is a liaison between the Social Services and the Ultra-Orthodox community in Beit Shemesh.

According to the allegations in the article, Rotter’s real power in the Welfare Department has far exceeded his liaison role, and involves case management of even very sensitive cases, such as sexual and other abuse of children in the ultra-orthodox community. Rotter apparently sits on case management committees, and has allegedly used his influence to get perpetrators off, and victims harassed.

Iris Tzur, manager of the Social Services in Beit Shemesh, presents the importance of Rotter’s liaison role, plays down his influence in professional decisions, and points her finger at “my boss”, Moshe Abutbul, who apparently instructed her to use Rotter’s services.

Abutbul himself, claims that Rotter was elected by a committee of rabbis to represent the interests of the chareidi community – and points his finger at Richard Peres, who held the Social Services portfolio on the Municipal Council.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no such rabbinical committee in Beit Shemesh, and I am confused why Iris Tzur would have said Abutbul designated Rotter, if it was really secular Labour Party member Richard Peres (her immediate boss).

However, one thing is becoming clearer.

I now understand why Moshe Abutbul thinks there are no pedophiles in Beit Shemesh – as his professional information on this topic comes from… Amram Rotter.

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Beit Shemesh: Has the Fat Lady Sung?

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Frankly, Beit Shemesh cannot compete with the neck-and-neck US elections of 2000 – between Bush & Gore.

For an election by over 100,000,000 US voters to be decided by just 537 solitary votes in Florida, was astounding. A statistical and historical feat which cannot be repeated. It took from the election date of 7th November to the final Supreme Court decision on 12the December for the final result, the Bush victory, to be absolutely final.

However, that unprecedented 2000 US election aside, the Beit Shemesh municipal elections are probably the most contentious I have known.

The municipal elections were on October 22, and two weeks later, no-one knows if the game in Beit Shemesh is over, with just 930 votes separating the election day victor Moshe Abutbol, from contender Eli Cohen.

Beit Shemesh’ equivalent to the hanging, dimpled, or pregnant chad of the malfunctioning voting machines in Florida – is election fraud.

For example, there were over 800 invalidated voting slips – allegedly due to deliberate tampering.

Many recorded cases of duplicate voters – people who arrived at the voting station and were amazed to be told by election officials “you have already voted, good bye!”

Votes were also allegedly cast by dead people and absent people.

Buildings were stuffed with more registered voters than could possibly live there.

And, to cap it all, the extensively publicised case of over 200 fraudulent ID cards, found in two apartments and a vehicle on election day in Beit Shemesh.

Whereas some of these alleged incidents may have been spontaneous, others were too extensive and sophisticated, and clearly required organizational structures, chains of command, and money.

With the publication of the gagged details of the arrests in Beit Shemesh, the picture is becoming clearer that an organized mafia was apparently running the election fraud campaign.

The cliche rule is to follow the money, and at the street price of 300 NIS per ID card for 250 cards is a neat 75,000 NIS. That’s just for one aspect of what seems to have been a far wider scam. Such money is not from individual enthusiasts – but is campaign money.

Shaya Brand, Yakov Porush (son of MK Meir Porush), David Tefilinski are listed amongst the suspects. These are “machers” who hustle around the elected officials and run the political party Koach.

What is even more disturbing to me than the mafiosa, a la Chicago, who appear to be running the upper echelons of Beit Shemesh, is the religious garb of the alleged crimes.

A low-point in the elections was a “Kol Korei” rabbinical announcement demanding that the the faithful vote for Moshe Abutbol, and one of the chareidi parties “Chen,” in return for blessings, while cursing-out (“poresh min hatzibur”- loosely “traitor”) anyone who didn’t vote or God forbid, voted for another candidate or party.

Big name national rabbonim appear as signatories, and numerous local rabbonim also.

(Perhaps the national rabbonim never saw or signed this document…).

Overlooked at the time, was that this Kol Korei, which undoubtedly influenced wavering voters to vote for Moshe Abutbol, was in contravention of the Election Law, Section 122.

This section explicitly forbids persuading voters by offering blessings and dispensing curses.

It also carries a five year prison sentence for anyone who breaks this law.

Whereas this may sound excessive, the reasoning behind it is to avoid rabbonim from issuing fatwas and Israeli elections becoming jihads. Once a specific candidate or party is standing in the Name of God, campaigning can become a dangerous crusade and deeply corrupted.
As indeed seems to have happened in Beit Shemesh.
The Kol Korei was mass-distributed door to door in Beit Shemesh, was proudly hung up in synagogues, and was published in a local “newspaper” Chadash. The Kol Korei was an official propaganda document in the Moshe Abutbol/Chen election campaign.

It is very unclear if there is enough objective evidence to force a re-vote – as there are few precedents for this in Israel. This will become clearer after the Election Committee of the Knesset reviews the Beit Shemesh elections next week.At this stage, the Fat Lady Hasn’t Sung.

However, if the mafia was toppled in Chicago by a bust for tax evasion, perhaps the alleged mafia in Beit Shemesh could be toppled, by enforcing Election Law, Section 122.

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Did my Deceased Mother-in-Law Vote in Beit Shemesh?

Friday, November 1st, 2013

It may qualify as the least funny mother-in-law joke.

We received a phone call at home from a unit investigating the recent election fraud scams in Beit Shemesh.

They were particularly interested in my mother-in-law’s voting habits.

My mother-in-law? Voting?

My mother-in-law passed away over three years ago.

That apparently was just the point…

Even though my mother-in-law is in her grave, she is still registered as a voter in Beit Shemesh.

Apparently, part of the (alleged) election fraud was that the scammers called hundreds of local homes impersonating pollsters.

When the person called by the ‘pollster’ said that the registered voter would be absent during the election (such as they were travelling abroad, or were in general absent from this world, because they’d died) this went down as a positive finding – and these people’s identities were then faked to enable people to vote in their place.

Absent people make great fake voters.

I don’t know if my mother-in-law actually did vote in this Beit Shemesh election.

I could guess though, that as I voted Eli Cohen, any mother-in-law would surely have voted for Moshe Abutbol!!

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Beit Shemesh Demonstrates: We Demand a Re-Vote!

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013


Video: Sam Sokol

Last night’s large (police estimates 5000) demonstration kept on message:

We want Clean Elections! We want Truth! We want Democracy! We want Justice!

We’re against Fraud & Criminality!

We demand a Re-Vote!

We demand an Investigation!

Speaker after speaker kept on message.

The focus of the demonstration was not about Eli Cohen (the ‘defeated’ candidate), and not about Moshe Abutbol (the incumbent mayor) – it was about ‘purity of elections.’

Beit Shemesh residents holding up signs, protesting in front of city hall Tuesday night.

Beit Shemesh residents holding up signs, protesting in front of city hall Tuesday night.

Along with the national and local politicians who spoke, three (eloquent) youngsters from Beit Shemesh spoke up for Bet Shemesh. A 20-something student, introduced as “Yisrael”, took out a cartoon bomb, a la Bibi at the UN, and drew a red line, standing for fraud and criminalism corrupting free and fair elections in Beit Shemesh. “Ad Kan”, to this point, we are willing to be defeated fairly in an election.

But not beyond that red line.

MK Dov Lipman (along with virtually every speaker) said that this campaign is not about chareidim – and pointed out that Beit Shemesh had quietly and peacefully accepted the election on Moshe Abutbol (Shas) as mayor of Beit Shemesh in 2008. Because it was a fair and open election. The difference this time is the WAY the elections were won. By (alleged) fraud and criminality.

The mood in the crowd was positive too – the odd boo-er was hushed, and the walk-away chant of the evening, a constant thread, “Lo Mevatrim Al Beit Shemesh!” We’re not giving up on Beit Shemesh!

The re-vote campaign has left the station and is right on track!

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Beit Shemesh: the Purple Zone

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

If you take a look at the voting map of Beit Shemesh during this past fiery election, you’ll note that the city is divided into unambiguous blue (Moshe Abutbol voters) and red (Eli Cohen voters) sectors.

Flare-ups have typically taken place at the seams – such as the Orot school and subsequent disruptions.

There is one area which is ‘mixed’ – which shows as purple on the map. It’s an area within Ramat Beit Shemesh (Aleph) around Nahal Dolev, Refaim, Maor, etc..

beit shemesh vote

In an up-beat article, Daniel Treisman has declared the Purple Zone as an area characterized by tolerance, friendship and co-existence which can become a model for the rest of Beit Shemesh.

We have enough voices and people from all sides of the spectrum who want to make a change that we can make serious headway on all the serious issues that have come to light over the past few months.

But we have to do it together as a family.

I invite anyone living in the blue or red zone to help spread the purple zone.

Enthusiastic fellow purple-people have established a Facebook Page called The Purple Zone, and punned in Hebrew “Am Segula” (one meaning is “The Chosen People”, another is “The Purple People”!).

As a fellow purple person (my neighbors are composed of people who voted both Eli Cohen and Moshe Abutbol – and we all get on marvelously) I applaud this initiative.

It is a relief to have some up-beat positivism in this otherwise fraught period for Beit Shemesh!

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Mounting Evidence: Beit Shemesh Votes Stolen, Election Tainted

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Six days after the municipal elections, the city of Beit Shemesh, population 85,000, is emerging as a place where the vote was significantly messed with, and as more and more testimonies are surfacing, it is possible that the scope of the corruption will force the courts to become involved.

According to the final results of the vote, as published by the Ministry of the Interior, incumbent mayor Moshe Abutbul, Shas, has won with 50.5 percent (17,655 votes), compared with 47.86 percent (16,741 votes) his opponent, Eli Cohen, Jewish Home.

The difference between the two, 924 votes, may just be small enough to fall below the number of suspected fraudulent votes, and justify some kind of corrective government action.

According to Ma’ariv, voters who came to the election stations discovered to their horror that someone had already voted using their name. In a significant number of stations Haredim were caught attempting to vote with someone else’s ID card. In one station the number of vote envelopes was higher by several dozens than the number of registered voters there. So no one doubts the trend, the question is whether the mounting number of anecdotes of fraud and fraud attempts justifies a legal intervention.

Reuven Haro, a vote observer in the Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet neighborhood told Maariv his assigned voting area was almost exclusively Haredi. “Early in the morning, a Haredi young man came in, handed us his ID card and went behind the curtain to vote. We passed the ID card between us and something looked suspicious. When the man came back, one of the vote committee members asked him what was his mother’s name, and he answered. I took the card and asked him how old he was. He said, 27, but the card said he was 24.

“I saw he had two registered daughters. I asked him, what are the names of your daughters? He couldn’t answer. The ID card picture was of a blond man, while the man before us was dark. We called up the Interior Ministry operation center and they told us to disqualify him so he couldn’t vote again, and to give him back the card. Just like that. We thought it was strange, because it looked like a criminal violation to me, but that’s what we did and the man went home.”

Y, who served as vice chair of the election committee in the Menucha V’Nachala neighborhood, also a Haredi area, told Ma’ariv: “We had several improper or suspicious cases like that, and the worst of them happened towards the end of the day. A young Haredi man showed up to vote, and the picture in his ID card was from 20 years ago. You couldn’t recognize him. He went behind the curtain and stayed there way too long/ When he came out, I took out his ID card personal data attachment and asked him to tell me the names of his children. He knew the first two, but couldn’t recall the third and was stuck. And then the election committee chair, a Haredi man who belongs to one of the Chassidic groups in the city, started screaming at me: Stop, leave him alone, I know him. The man took advantage of the tumult, left the ID card and fled. We handed the card to the police, but this was a huge miss. The only way to find out what really happened is by interrogating the chairman. He knew the guy.”

Yossi Korem, chairman of the election committee in the Cheftzibah neighborhood, told Ma’ariv: “In the afternoon a Haredi young woman came to vote, and it was later discovered that she had already voted before with a different ID card, and a different wig. We were lucky that a committee member recognized her and said, This woman was already here a short while ago. We asked her if she had already voted and she denied it. The picture in the card looked similar to her, but the head cover was confusing and made it very tough to identify. We started asking her questions. We asked when she was born, she said, Around the month of Adar.” She could not recall her children’s names. we called the police and they took her for questioning. It turned out this was her second vote.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/mounting-evidence-beit-shemesh-votes-stolen-election-tainted/2013/10/28/

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