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October 30, 2014 / 6 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Eli Cohen’

Beit Shemesh Journal: I’m Switching My Vote

Monday, March 10th, 2014

The Beit Shemesh Re-Called Election which will be held this Tuesday is unique.

It the first time ever that an election has been overturned and recalled in Israel. This was on the grounds of widespread and systematic election fraud in the October 2013 Municipal Elections.

It is therefore the only election in Israel’s history where voters have the (legal) possibility of voting, changing their mind – and then voting again differently.

And that’s precisely what I’m planning to do.

In October, I voted for Eli Cohen for mayor, and the TOV party for city council.

I am a fan of TOV, because I admire their courage in pushing a moderate chareidi agenda, in a field dominated by fundamentalists.  Encouraging chareidi participation in the workforce, the army and Israeli society – and in local terms, “the pursuit of quality of life” – sounds like a healthy vote in favour of progress.

However, what finally clinched my vote in October for TOV was their number two candidate, Rav Avrohom Leventhal.

I know Rav Leventhal from close up, in our relationship as Chairman (me) and Executive Director (R.Leventhal) of Lema’an Achai, working in partnership for the past seven years.

I am an unapologetic diehard admirer of Rav Leventhal – his integrity, humanity and wisdom.

Having Rav Leventhal on the city council would enable the whole city to benefit from his personal qualities.

However, even TOV’s number one candidate, Aaron Solomon, failed (narrowly) to win a seat in October’s election.

Frankly, voting for TOV this time, so as to help get their number two, Rav Leventhal, on city council, now sounds like a mis-spent vote.

Furthermore, TOV’s inability to garner a seat, showed that, however admirable their agenda, their natural constituency of working-chareidim are not listening or interested in pursuing a path of moderation.

Instead, I’ll be hoping that my vote will make a significant difference by helping Rena Hollander into city council.

I have known Rena for over a decade, and can attest to her quiet, industrious and compassionate assistance to helping hundreds of families in our community.

Rena is number four on the Beit Shemesh Returns list – in October, they won three seats on city council, just shy of Rena winning a seat.

The Beit Shemesh Returns Party is a progressive coalition including Jewish Home/Bayit Yehudi, which is my natural habitat as a national religious stalwart.

I’ll therefore be voting for “Beit Shemesh Returns” (טב) – Eli Cohen’s united zionist party.

So, for me, it’s TOV out, and טב in!

For the mayor, in the October municipal election I voted for the Zionist candidate, Eli Cohen.

This was because Eli promised a new professionalism and fairness in a city which has become a byword around the world for extremism and corruption.

Eli’s upper management experience at the Jewish Agency and Mekorot Water Company showed solid competence, without frills & shtikim/trickery.

Eli’s lack of political experience raised a question-mark – and his bungled party leadership contest against Aliza Bloch, also smacked of a political novice.

However, given the choice between a good manager, and a seasoned politician, in October, I was willing to risk the former.

This time, just five months later, we are looking at a very different Eli Cohen.

There has been mumbled criticism that Eli Cohen’s election campaign was lackluster and negative.

What these critics were missing, is that Eli Cohen this time didn’t need a slick, expensive campaign to introduce himself and what he stands for to the Beit Shemesh voters.

This time, Eli Cohen has already proven his steel.

The feat he accomplished, against all odds, of courageously fighting the systematic corruption and fraud of the October election, through the courts, all the way to the Supreme Court – and winning an unprecedented victory for clean democratic process, taking a firm stand against cheats and fraudsters – has changed Eli Cohen’s status.

Today, Eli Cohen’s credentials are not that he has held senior management positions in this or that organization or company.

Eli Cohen’s most compelling credential… is this recalled election itself!!

Eli Cohen is now the nationally-known face of electoral integrity and honesty in Israel.

Eli Cohen has proven he has the personal courage, resources and talents to take on even the most fanatical & cheating kanoim, who for the past decade had brought our whole city into international disrepute  - and Eli Cohen won.

Last time, I voted for Eli Cohen, Deputy CEO of Mekorot Water Company.

This time I’m switching.

I’ve had enough of being given ‘the face’ when I mention I’m from Beit Shemesh to people from out of town and even abroad – it is time to restore the battered reputation of Beit Shemesh.

It is time to turn the page on the past, and move on to ethical, tolerant, reliable, equitable and efficient government.

This time, I’m voting for the nationally recognised hero of lawful democracy in Israel, a man who has already accomplished the unprecedented.

I will vote for the new Eli Cohen.

The next mayor of Beit Shemesh – a city we will all be proud of!

Beit Shemesh Affecting Million Man Rally Schedule and Vice Versa

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Visit Life in Israel.

In Beit Shemesh election news…

Eli Cohen, candidate for the position of mayor of Beit Shemesh, put out his jingle for the month of Adar – using a famous Purim tune “Vnahafoch hu,” and wrote that this is precisely our goal – to bring about a reversal for the city of Beit Shemesh – instead of extremism, openness; instead of fighting, discussion; instead of favoring associates, fair and equal treatment of all.. the month of Adar will be a month of change in Beit Shemesh..

the song:



Sure enough, his song was quick to draw criticism from his opponents and detractors. People wrote in on his Facebook page accusing him of using Judaism and its songs as an ax to grind with… of course the other side has no problem using Judaism for their political purposes – their signs all over the neighborhood excerpt a verse right out of the megilla calling on everyone to gather together and protect their lives (ostensibly from the attack of Haman and his supporters)…

beit shemesh posters

Only one side is allowed to use Judaism and Torah for their election propaganda..

And in other Beit Shemesh news…

The upcoming elections is having an effect on the planned “million man rally” of the Haredi community to protest against Netanyahu and the new draft law being passed.

According to reports in Kikar and Bechadrei, they are having trouble scheduling the rally. The Gerrer Rebbe insists the rally be on a Sunday, so that they can have simultaneous rallies  in other locations around the world, something that is only possible on Sunday when people are not working.

That leaves only two Sundays in the immediate future, and both are problematic: * this coming Sunday is Rosh Chodesh and selichos cannot be said on Rosh Chodesh (and that would optimally be a main feature of the rally) * the following Sunday which is right before Beit Shemesh elections and might adversely affect preparations and motivation – it would take the askanim away from their preparations, and it might increase non-haredi motivation to go out and vote. From another perspective, the rally can also contain a call for rallying around Beit Shemesh in order to oppose the government – motivate locals to vote and work for the Haredi success in Beit Shemesh while also encouraging others form around the country to go help out in Beit Shemesh (without voting).. but ti seems the non-haredi motivation is a greater concern than the haredi motivation – maybe they figure every haredi resident will be going out to vote and they dont need any additional motivation.

It looks like the decision will be to make the rally sooner rather than later, and it will be this coming Sunday, and they will say tehillim without selichos.

Who Moved Abutbul’s Cheese?

Friday, February 14th, 2014

The cliche definition of insanity, as making the same mistakes over and over, while expecting different results, could apply to Moshe Abutbul’s response to the High Court decision to instruct new elections in Beit Shemesh.

Current mayor Moshe Abutbul responded to the court’s decision by stating:

injustice and theft has been done in the wake of my sweet victory. There was not one Supreme Court ruling in favor of the ultra-Orthodox sector. The court despises the Right and the ultra-Orthodox. People tell me that if my name was not Abutbul the ruling would be different, and it’s hard for me to deny that. It is obvious what the public environment is and the judges swept after the media. I hope that a crushing victory in the upcoming elections will be our answer.”

Within this short response (which Abutbul had four months since the October elections to carefully consider beforehand) he accuses the Supreme Court of injustice, theft, of being hareidi-bashers, Sephardi-phobes and being corrupted by the Press.

The claim that the court was motivated by hatred of Sephardim was perhaps the most bizarre, as Moshe Abutbul was facing off in the court case against mayoral challenger Eli Cohen who is from..urr..Morocco.

This theme has been amplified by the Bet Shemesh Hareidi Newspaper, Chadash, which flatly accuses the whole legal system of being anti-chareidi and anti Sephardi -screaming in this weekend’s front page headline “My name is Abutbul [Sephardi] and I am Chareidi – so I didn’t have a chance”. Not a word of regret, soul searching, admission of fault, reaching out for unity.

Instead, the message is one of negative integration – rallying the Abutbul camp through claiming their camp is under vicious attack by malevolent external forces – in this case the Supreme Court, the District Court, the Police, The Attorney General, Yehudah Weinstein, Abutbul’s rival candidate, Eli Cohen, and presumably Lord Voldemort.

The famous book Who Moved My Cheese, posits that it is extremely difficult to change deeply entrenched habits and assumptions – a mouse will repeatedly go back to the cheese spot in the cage, even after the cheese stops being placed there, and new avenues to cheese are opened.

Ever since the voter fraud in Beit Shemesh was publicly exposed in a police sweep on election day, 22nd October 2013, Moshe Abutbul has taken the knee-jerk response to all criticism and perceived threats:

Deny; Minimize; Marginalize; Attack the Messenger (by calling non-Chareidim Chareidi-bashers; and by calling internal critics traitors); Attack the Victim (in this case Eli Cohen and the electorate of Beit Shemesh). If all else fails, the response is to admit to some measure of error, and sincerely promise to clear it up internally. And above all, Circle The Wagons!

In his election victory speech in October Abutbul missed an opportunity to unite the city, instead reverting to lashing out at the Press, demonic “outside forces” etc:

Abutbul stated that the elections had not only taken place over the last several months, but that they had been a “brutal battle” that started at the beginning of his first term when the press tried to “blacken” his name and make him into a “threat” to the non-haredi residents of Beit Shemesh.

“Today we see that all of the delegitimization did not stand the test,” the mayor said, stating that he always acted out of concern for peace, love and unity.
“I think that the media needs to search their souls” and the time for a “cease-fire” has come, he said. “The residents of the city noted clearly that they had enough of outside interference. Let us live in harmony.”

Moshe Abutbul also missed an opportunity to take the moral high ground against the election fraudsters.

If I had been Abutbul’s speechwriter I would have had him say in his election victory speech, and on every occasion since then:

“I was appalled that there are serious allegations by the police that there was widespread and organized election fraud in Beit Shemesh. If true, this criminal behavior brings shame upon Beit Shemesh. Anyone who is found to have been involved, directly or indirectly, in this election fraud will have no place in my coalition and I shall do everything in my power to make sure they have no further involvement in Beit Shemesh public life. I call on every single citizen across the community to actively assist the police in their inquiries and to bring criminals to justice.”

However, instead, Moshe Abutbul and the local Hareidi press have consistently accused the legal system of being solely motivated by hatred of chareidim; they have claimed that, if there was a crime, it was by a few random individuals; and that Eli Cohen had gone to the courts because Cohen was just a bad loser.
Have Moshe Abutbul and his supporters learned anything from their election debacle? Will they repeat their past mistakes? Can they kick the habit of negative campaigning and negative integration?

If their response to the Supreme Court ruling is an indication – then the Abutbul camp is back to business as usual in this month-long new election campaign till 11th March.

Visit Tzedek-Tzedek.

Corruption-Riddled Beit Shemesh Gets New Elections

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

The Supreme Court has unanimously rejected the appeals by Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbol and mayoral candidate Meir Balayish – and so municipal elections will be held again in Beit Shemesh on 11th March. The incumbent’s most serious challenger is the Religious Zionist candidate Eli Cohen.

In a statement, the three judge court, comprising Supreme Court President Asher D. Grunis, Elyakim Rubinstein, and Uzi Fogelman, announced that:

“The picture which emerges from the District Court Ruling, regarding the manner in which the elections took place in the town of Beit Shemesh, is alarming and disturbing. Residents of the city of Beit Shemesh, and the election process to express their democratic wishes, fell victims to an organized large-scale and systematic violation of law which aimed at diverting the election for mayor and City Council. In light of the extensive scope of the phenomenon, and the systematic organization of those involved, the District Court found that there is a real possibility that this serious conspiracy affected the election results, and therefore ordered cancellation of the previous elections and the holding of new elections.”

The new election date of March 11 was announced by the Ministry of Interior.

This decision by the Regional Court, now confirmed by the Supreme Court, is a legal precedent in defense of the democratic process.

One hopes that the new election campaigns will be considerably less corrupt than during the previous election in October – and that this time everyone will keep to both the letter and spirit of free and open elections.

Visit Tzedek-Tzedek.

Court Orders New Elections in Beit Shemesh

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

The Jewish Home party won its day in court on Thursday with an administration court ruling that the October 22 elections for the Beit Shemesh mayor and city council are invalid because of suspected fraud. The court ordered a new vote.

Jewish Home mayoral candidate lost the election by 956 votes to Shas party incumbent Mayor Moshe Abutbul.

Shortly before the voting, police raid several homes and found identification cards that were in the hands of impersonators, and investigators said there is evidence of widespread fraud and suspicion of possible organized crime behind the forgeries.

Amazingly, Mayor Abutbul’s attorney told the court that, sure, there were some forgeries, but “you have to prove that all of the votes [separating Abutbul and Cohen] were invalid in order to cancel the elections. This is simple math. The police raided several homes and caught 120 identification cards, 36 of which were used to vote illegally. These are the facts, and the rest is speculation.”

Nice try, but no go, said the court. It is not just speculation; it is evidence that the foul play“went to the roots of the elections,” the court’s judges wrote in their ruling. It noted that “public trust collapsed.”

Shas is not known for clean politics. Neither is the Likud, but Shas’ problem is that it gets caught more often. It does not have the finesse of the Ashkenazi elite to be crooked and get away with it.

Just ask Aryeh Deri, who has returned to head the party after time ran out on his not being able to hold public office by virtue of his conviction and prison sentence for bribery, which politicians, religious and secular, think is not illegal if is a mitzvah.

Thursday’s decision was victory for the Jewish Home party, which already tastes an electoral victory in the re-run of the votes. A date has not yet been announced, but Beit Shemesh residents are anxious to vote again.

The city has been severely divided over religion. A radical Haredi cult has made life miserable for many national religious families. Many secular residents are furious over the increasing Haredi influence, let alone the radicals who want separate sidewalks for men and women.

A relatively large number of Americans live in Beit Shemesh, located a few miles west of Jerusalem. One of them is Dov Lipman, who now is a Knesset Member for the Yesh Atid party.

Police Interrogate Son of Haredi MK on Beit Shemesh Election Fraud

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

The son of a popular Haredi MK was interrogated for many hours by police on suspicion of his involvement in the conspiracy to steal the Beit Shemesh elections, Kikar Hashabbat reported Tuesday.

According to police sources speaking to Kikar Hashabbat, one of the suspects in the Beit Shemesh fraud conspiracy drove a car belonging to a Chassidic newspaper, allegedly Hamevaser, and in use by the MK’s son.

Hamevaser is owned by MK Meir Porush, who established it with his father, Menachem Porush.

Earlier, police had announced that the Beit Shemesh investigation has been handed to the Lahav 433 unit, the “Israeli FBI.” A gag order has been imposed on reporting details of the investigation, which means police are making progress.

The list of suspects who were brought before the court—most of whom were sent home pending the investigation—includes Avraham Iber, Shlomo Wolf, Avraham Weinberg, Shimon Zeidel, Yitzhak Moshe Rosenfeld, Ahran Londer and Avraham Biller. All of them are being accused of using another person’s ID card to secure an illegal vote.

According to attorney Yair Golan who represents the suspects, police does not have sufficient evidence against his clients, and as investigators have not been able to add evidence on top of what had been presented at the arraignment, “the judge decided there was a large gap between the severity of the charges per se and the evidence presented before the court.”

During the municipal election day, a large force of police and special police raided two apartments on Or Sameach Street, in the Haredi section of Beit Shemesh, following a tip on the use of forged ID cards. Some 200 ID cards were discovered, most likely belonging to Israelis who live abroad. Police is convinced the cards were intended for us in illegal voting.

The difference between the Shas winner, Moshe Abutbul, and the Jewish Home loser, Eli Cohen, is a little over 900 votes, and it is possible that the investigation would show that the real gap, in strictly legal votes, is much smaller.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/tzedek-tzedek/beit-shemesh-we-was-robbed/2013/10/27/

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