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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Efrat’

Beit Shemesh – We Was Robbed

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

I was at a wedding on Monday night, and sat with some fine, educated and well informed people from Efrat.

I started to discuss the next day’s municipal election in Beit Shemesh.

“Are the elections tomorrow?” he asked me. It transpired that neither he nor his wife were even aware of Municipal Domesday, which was happening the following day…

In many small town elections, a main contention might be whether to have a swimming pool, or a tennis court. Should certain streets be turned into pedestrian-only zones…and other such day-to-day important mundanities.

Here in Beit Shemesh the contentious issues seemed to mainly resolve around God and godliness.

That’s rather a Biggy, and therefore, rather than being a gentlemanly contest between parties for seats on the town council, it resembled jihad.

Try as the non-Chareidi candidate, Eli Cohen, might, to address regular municipal issues, such as parks, cleanliness, safety, education, cultural events and transport….the ever-present issue was really that Eli Cohen’s chosen lifestyle is Sephardi traditional, whereas the incumbent mayor,Moshe Abutbol, is Sephardi ultra-orthodox.

Beit Shemesh has a history of religious flare-ups and civil disturbance, ever since thousands of ultra-orthodox families started to move into the traditional Sephardi town, about twenty years ago.

Today, the town of 80,000 residents is split evenly between ultra-orthodox residents, and “miscellaneous others” (National Religious, traditional Sephardim, secular, Ethiopians, Russians..).

The ultra-orthodox campaign used highly charged language and tactics – blessings and curses (and lies) dispensed by rabbis from pulpits, holocaust imagery in political adverts, slurs of “Nazis!” hurled at anyone non-Chareidi in the streets, production & use of fraudulent rabbinical approbations, criminal use of fraudulent ID cards, cheating during the voting process, stone-throwing at political opponents, illegal use of educational facilities and institutions, illegal use of child labour, importing and paying national religiously dressed school-kids to appear to support the Chareidi candidate, as well as the more humdrum pathological smearing and lying about the competition and provable facts.

Perhaps the most startling chareidi innovation of this election was the ‘permit/heter’ issued to Abutbol supporters to desecrate the holy Shabbos – such as by tearing down ‘enemy’ banners and materials after candle-lighting on Friday nights.

These and many other outrageous behaviors were not occasional aberrations, but were an intrinsic part of the ultra-orthodox campaign.

The message to me was clear – in a Holy War, all tactics are permissible.

Indeed, in the main rabbinical approbation (Kol Korei) of the campaign, signed by over 20 leading Chareidi rabbonim, both national and local, which was republished ad-nauseam, stated that supporting Abutbol and the “Chen” Agudat Yisrael party, was a mitzva (commandment) and that not voting, or voting for someone else, or another list, was an aveira (sin against the Torah).

Ominously, the document’s call to action instructed the public to use “all means possible” to influence people to vote for Abutbol +  Chen list. Although this may have been seen as purely rhetorical – it was clearly interpreted as a carte blanche to engage in criminal and unethical activities for The Greater Cause.

The end results of this filthy campaign, published today (following the soldiers’ vote count) showed an Abutbol victory by around 1000 votes (out of 50,000 registered voters).

[Around 500 were accounted for by the maverick 'spoiler' non-chareidi Meir Balayish - the third no-hope candidate in the mayoral race].

The 1000 votes can surely be explained by the criminal/illegal elements – for example, around 200 ID’s were discovered by police as a voting scam (8 people arrested, so far); countless others were also presumably used. Thousands of voters were coerced, blackmailed, misled and intimidated into voting Abutbol.

I am willing to be part of a losing team – particularly one which loses by fighting cleanly and with integrity.  Indeed, as a member of the National Religious camp I have got used to this role – as a group, we endeavor to play straight, and this often puts us at a disadvantage in the cynical rough-and-tumble of the the ‘real world’.

However, I am not willing to be a victim of a crime.

Eli Cohen supporters, and other citizens who do not approve of the behaviour they witnessed, in the streets, in the communal institutions and in the voting stations – have appealed to the Supreme Court to over-rule the election results.

Election Results for Jerusalem and Israel

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Overall, municipal election turnout in Israel was record low on Tuesday.

In Jerusalem, Nir Barkat easily won over candidate Moshe Lion, where only 35% of potential voters even bothered to vote.

Current results appear to indicate that Aryeh King won a seat on the Jerusalem city council.

In Efrat, Oded Ravivi won by a wide margin.

In Elad, UTJ’s candidate Yisrael Porush, beat Aryeh Deri’s candidate Tzuriel Krispel.

In Beit Shemesh Hareidi candidate Moshe Abutbul won by a very close margin. Now we’re waiting to see if an exodus of non-Hareidi residents begins.

In Modiin, Likud’s Haim Babas appears to have won.

In Ma’aleh, Adumim Benny Kashriel was reelected.

In Netanya, Miriam Feirberg was reelected.

In Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai won again.

PA Mourns Failure to Take over Rachel’s Tomb as Muslim Holy Site

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Tens of thousands of Jews are visiting Rachel’s Tomb Tuesday, the anniversary of her death as described in the Torah, to pray for Rachel to cry for them that their prayers be answered.

No tears need be shed for the Palestinian Authority, which can mourn for itself for not being able to hoodwink the world to believe Rachel’s Tomb is a Muslim holy site.

The Torah states in Genesis (B’reisheit’), “And Rachel died, and was buried on the way to Efrat, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.”

Before the Palestinian Authority campaign to rewrite the Bible and ancient history, Muslim authorities for centuries had acknowledged that Rachel’s Tomb is Jewish.

Excited by their blood-letting suicide bombings, firebomb and shooting attacks on Jews in the 1990s, the Palestinian Authority suddenly stopped referring to the site as “Rachel’s Dome” and called it the Mosque of Bilal ibn Rabah.

The manufactured tradition became more popular as Muslim clerics in the Arab world pounded the pulpit that the binding of Isaac (Yitzchak) actually is the binding of Ishmael, that the Holy Temples never existed and that the Western Wall really was the hitching post for the Muslim prophet Mohammed’s horse, may his and it memories be forgotten.

More amazing than the fibs that the Palestinian Authority invented was the acceptance of them by the anti-Israel crowd, especially  UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Last year won UNESCO support that the ancient site also belongs to Muslims even though the Tomb, “Kever Rochel” in Hebrew, existed long before Islam came into existence.

In December 2012, UNESCO director Irina Bokova accepted the view of its chief critic of Israel, Robert Serry, who also serves as UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. He warned that Israel’s defining Rachel’s Tomb and the Patriarchs’ Cave in Hevron as holy sites would be bad for the sacred ghost known as the peace process.

UNESCO said Rachel’s Tomb also belongs to Christians and Muslim, which at one time built over the Tomb. That is like saying that JFK airport is a Jewish site because there is a synagogue there.

Two years before UNESCO’s sentence to the Jewish site, Palestinian Authority  chairman Mahmoud Abbas warned that there would be a “holy war” over Rachel’s Tomb if Israel did not accept the Muslim claim that that is was an ancient mosque.

Iran went one step further  with its foreign ministry declaring that Israel’s decision to make Rachel’s Tomb a national heritage site “rises from the regime’s strategy for cleaning all the sanctities of the Muslims and Christians in the occupied Palestine to give them a Zionist identity.”

The Palestinian Authority succeeded 13 years ago in taking over Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem, a direct violation of the Oslo Accords, but the efforts of Jewish leaders in the Shomron (Samaria) the past two years have enabled Jews to worship there under IDF guard.

The Oslo Accords interim agreement in 1995 states that security arrangements must “ensure free, unimpeded and secure access to the relevant Jewish holy sites.”

The Palestinian Authority has no problem with that. All it has to do is drive out the Jews with terrorist attacks and then convince UNESCO that Rachel’s Tomb is not a Jewish holy site.

That is the impetus for the Palestinian Authority to call Kever Rachel the  Bilal ibn Rabah mosque.

Jews traveling to pray at Rachel’s Tomb on her yahrzheit Tuesday can thank none other than former Haredi Knesset Member Menachem Porush that they are able to do so.

During the height of the Oslo mirage in 1995, Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau and MK Porush appealed to Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin not to go through with his plan to turn Rachel’s Tomb over to the Palestinian Authority.

Rabbi Lau told the Prime Minister, “One does not part from one’s mother, and MK Porush broke down in tears, crying on Rabin’s shoulders.

Rabin surrendered, and today, the Palestinian Authority can mourn to Mohammed that truth has triumphed over at least one of its lies.

Thousands of Jews at Rachel's tomb on the even of the anniversary of her death.

Thousands of Jews at Rachel’s tomb on the even of the anniversary of her death.

Brooklyn-Born Candidate Running for Efrat City Council Seat

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

JewishPress.com  met with Avraham Ben-Tzvi, an American-born resident of Efrat running for the Efrat Municipal Council in the upcoming municipal elections this month.

The Jewish Press: Hello Avraham, tell us a little about yourself

Avraham Ben-Tzvi: Well, I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY where my parents still live. By the way, they are avid Jewish Press readers, as were my grandparents of blessed memory, who always had the weekly copy in their home. I went to school k-12 at Yeshiva Torah Vodaas in Brooklyn. Following High School I studied at Yeshiva University and spent a year in Israel at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh. In 1994 I made Aliya and worked in banking and then business development for Israeli hi-tech companies, and I have been living with my family in Efrat in Gush Etzion since 2003. A number of years back, I studied law in Israel and have since been working as a corporate and commercial lawyer.

JP: What attracted you to Efrat?

Ben-Tzvi: Naomi, my wife, and I were looking for an affordable place to live located in the Jerusalem area, where we would be able to give our children a good education as well as be part of a religious community – yet still have access to many types of services that would be found in larger cities. Efrat, which is the central town in the Gush Etzion region, fit the bill perfectly. We found a wonderful, new and growing community in the Zayit hill neighborhood in Efrat, where construction began around the year 1999. Today the neighborhood is home to many hundreds of families with children who attend the Efrat schools.

JP: How does voting work in a town like Efrat?

Ben-Tzvi: In Israel, local municipalities like Efrat have elections every five years. The voters elect a mayor on one ticket, and a slate of candidates for the municipal council. Those can be, and often are two separate and distinct choices.

One of the candidates for mayor of Efrat, Dovi Schefler, a current Efrat council member, asked me to join his list for the town council election. Everything he said made sense to me and I realized that he is the person who can take Efrat forward and turn it into the capital city of Gush Etzion, which it was intended to be. So I responded affirmatively. I haven’t stopped since.

JP: What’s your role on Shefler’s list?

Ben-Tzvi: The plan after the election is that I will be tasked with handling matters related to new immigrants, as well as dealing with environmental issues, such as development of open spaces and green areas. I hope to institute town sponsored community gardens, to be run by a community committee, as well as garden allotments developed by the town and made available to rent to people who live in apartments without a garden. There is much available open land which will likely never be built on, and can be used for these purposes. I also see these and other types of open spaces as part and parcel of proper town planning. It’s not just about pouring concrete…

JP: Speaking of environmental issues, I understand you’re known to have been involved in fighting to force the local construction companies to comply with noise and safety regulations, and that’s been an issue that’s been ignored.

Ben-Tzvi: There’s that, and I plan to continue to make progress on enforcing safety and noise regulations on building sites in Efrat for the good of the residents.

JP: Why would you run for elected office in a volunteer capacity?

Ben-Tzvi: The reality is that while the Knesset elections and national politics get the most attention in the Israeli and international press, what affects and interests the average resident the most on a daily basis is tied into local politics – their children’s education, clean sidewalks, shade in the parks (or even having parks altogether), social welfare services, housing development, recreational activities—including swimming pools and athletic fields—are just some of the basic, day to day things that impact us at the local level.

While I had previously volunteered on various town committees and community activities, after Dovi Shefler asked me to join his campaign, I thought about it and realized that the most effective way to really bring about positive change would be to sit at the main table – on the council. That’s where the real action is.

One of the valuable things I learned from my teachers and co-workers since studying law in Israel, is that knowledge of the law brings a skill set that can be used to help people in all sorts of situations. The Israeli lawyers I work with, despite our heavy workloads, are all very active with various pro-bono and community volunteer activities, and in this context it is only natural for me to want to give back to the great community that has given me and my family so much.

JP: Tell us about new housing in Efrat.

Ben-Tzvi: In Yehuda and Shomron, the local municipality plays a very important role in promoting new development. As housing in Yesha is a politically charged issue, very often if a mayor is proactive and pushes forward new housing solutions – and works together with various bodies involved in settlement activities such as the Yesha Council and Amana, the development arm of the council – his town will grow. On the other hand, if this is not a top priority for the mayor, the town will stagnate. In recent years, many children of Efrat residents who got married had to leave to other locations, since there was no suitable housing for them here. The town actually didn’t even have sufficient housing for tens of new immigrant families from the US, the UK, France and other western countries, who wanted to settle in Efrat. There simply wasn’t and isn’t available housing.

The Long List of Arab Riots Throughout Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem

Friday, September 27th, 2013

There has been an escalation of Arab attacks all week long, but since early Friday afternoon, Arabs have been violently rioting throughout Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem following Arab calls for violent demonstrations.

Dozens of attacks have been reported today, here is a partial roundup of some of the attacks:

Local Mount of Olive residents were told to bring in their Sukkahs overnight, after they received advance warning that Arabs were planning to burn down their Sukkahs on Friday with firebombs.

Hundred of Arabs were stoning Jews with cinder-blocks and stones on the road leading to the Mount of Olives neighborhoods.

Undercover police officers managed to identify and apprehend the ringleaders of the riot, and dispersed the remaining Arab hooligans.

From Tazpit News Agency:

Approximately 100 Arabs are rioting near Kever Rachel.

Two pipe bombs were thrown near Kever Rachel.

Near Sha’ar Shechem (Damascus Gate) in Jerusalem, a policeman was lightly injured by Arab rock throwers.

A soldier was injured near Beit Omar from stone throwing. His teeth were broken when a stone hit him in the face.

Near Assawiyah in Jerusalem, Arabs are throwing stones and burning tires.

Arab are throwing stones at Beit Hadassah in Hebron.

Arabs are burning an agricultural field near Hebron.

Arabs are rioting near Shechem.

Arabs threw stones at cars near Efrat in Gush Etzion.

A firebomb was thrown at IDF troops near Beit Omar.

On road 60, between Gush Etzion and Hebron, Arabs are throwing stones at cars and policemen.

Arabs lit up a tire between Beit Fa’jar and Migdal Oz in Gush Etzion.

Violent riots have been reported near Ne’elin. One person was injured.

Sukkot Hike Raises Money for Camp Koby

Monday, September 23rd, 2013
Sukkot hike raises money for Camp Koby.

Sukkot hike raises money for Camp Koby.

More than 60 people took part in a special one day Kilometers for Koby Sukkot hike along the Israel Trail and the Burma Road this week to help raise funds for Camp Koby, established in memory of terror teenage victim Koby Mandell.

He and a friend were killed nearly 13 years ago in a terrorist attack while hiking near their home in Tekoa, east of Efrat in Gush Etzion. The tragedy spurred his parents, Rabbi Seth and Sherri Mandell, to create The Koby Mandell Foundation to benefit the families of others who have lost loved ones to terror and other tragic circumstances. The   hike began at Neve Shalom and ended in Park Eshtaol and included both Israelis and American tourists.

‘Dream Road’ from Gush Etzion to Dead Sea May Explode Peace Talks

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Palestinian Authority-Israeli “peace talks” might be short-lived following the unveiling on Tuesday of a new Gush Etzion-Dead Sea highway Tuesday that would destroy Palestinian Authority ambitions to include all of the Jordan Valley and the Judean Desert in its planned future state.

While foreign and Israeli media reported that Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas  has made it clear there is no room for compromise on PA territorial demands in the area, two Cabinet ministers senior Knesset Member Avigdor Liberman toured the proposed route of the new highway, with work slated to begin in only four months.

News of the new west-east road, which would revolutionize travel and the tourist industry, has barely been reported, but once the Palestinian Authority gets a hold of it, it undoubtedly will demand that there is no sense in talking unless Israel calls off the bulldozers and asphalt trucks.

“Israel will not be present between us and Jordan,” Abbas said in Jericho  this week. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has consistently said that Israel will retain a presence in the Jordan Valley as a security measure.

Abbas on Sunday rejected an Israeli military presence, adding that he might consider an international force to back up PA security forces.

The planned $10 million highway makes mincemeat out of Abbas’ grand vision and could set off the fuse that would explode the PA-Israeli discussions that Palestinian Authority negotiators insist are going nowhere.

The route for the new road was unveiled during a tour of the area on Tuesday by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, a strong Likud nationalist, Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir of Yisrael Beiteinu , and Liberman, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee and leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu faction in the Likud party.

The highway would cut through “Area C,” determined by the Oslo Accords to be under Israeli control, and would carve through some of Israel’s most awesome natural areas.

Planners  claimed that the route was approved by environmental experts,  but any work that would scar the Judean Desert cliffs, parts of which are virgin area occupied only by wildlife, would meet a storm of protests from environmentalists.

The political story from the Palestinian Authority will be just as fierce, but comments by Israeli  officials touring the route Tuesday were full of enthusiasm and praise.

“I have been dreaming of this road for 20 years,” said Motti Dahaman, chairman of the Megillot Regional Council in the Dead Sea area north of Ein Gedi.

“This road is part of a vision or tourism and will connect Gush Etzion to the Dead Sea and Megillot with Jerusalem,”  He said. “The highway will make it easier form tourists form Bethlehem to come to the Dead Sea.” The highway if it can bridge the political divide, will cut travel time from Gush Etzion to the Dead Sea to only 27 minutes. Today, the only way to reach the Dead Sea, except by four-wheel vehicles, is via Jerusalem to the north or  Arad to the south, with travel time of nearly 90 minutes.

Gush Etzion Regional Council chairman Davidi Perl called the highway an “historic event” and added, “Today there are only two roads to the Dead Sea. The significance of this new highway is that it will bring the center of the country to the Dead Sea and encourage tourism there and in Gush Etzion and the Judean Desert.

The road would include the current Beit Shemesh-Gush Etzion route, which would be widened into a super highway, and it then would carve out a new path, over dirt roads, east of Efrat and then south east, bypassing virtually impassable cliffs.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/dream-road-from-gush-etzion-to-dead-sea-may-explode-peace-talks/2013/09/17/

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