Dr. Aliza Bloch on Wednesday night won the mayoral elections in Beit Shemesh. It was close and tense, but at the end Bloch managed to beat the mayor of Beit Shemesh, Moshe Abutbul.
Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett tweeted early Thursday morning: “I congratulated Aliza Bloch on her historic win in Beit Shemesh. This was a critical campaign for the city’s future. The residents of Beit Shemesh chose hope, unity and the future. We agreed to meet next week to put together a plan to boost education in the city.”
Bloch at one point was the principal of Branco Weiss High School in Beit Shemesh.
In addition to secular and the national-religious, Bloch also appealed to the Haredi voters, with support from Adina Bar-Shalom, daughter of the late Rav Ovadia Yosef. In fact, a significant part of Bloch’s achievement is attributed to the success of her Haredi activists. Apparently, many of the Haredi residents of Beit Shemesh also sought a new direction.
The city of Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem, usually makes headlines in Israel when Haredi Jews there curse out and even spit on women and girls because of their attire, which they think is not modest enough. Beit Shemesh also makes headlines when Haredim there physically assault Haredi soldiers dressed in their IDF uniforms.
Well, Mayor Abutbul was already leading Bloch by 251 votes Wednesday night, when about 1,000 votes of local IDF soldiers who voted in their bases, as well as 300 votes of disabled people and dozens of prisoners’ votes (in Israel, prisoners do not lose the right to vote) came in, and in the final count Bloch won with a 533 vote advantage, which gave her a total victory – no second round would be necessary.
In her victory speech to about 200 supporters who gathered in the municipality square after midnight, Bloch said: “Beit Shemesh is waking up to a new dawn. The people of Israel take a look at the city of Beit Shemesh this morning and wake up to a new hope.
“Beit Shemesh decided to remove the walls and partitions. Until today, the extremist fringes were managing our discourse and prevented us from seeing each other as human beings. Those who set the tone were extremists who created an image of a war-torn Beit Shemesh. Today, Beit Shemesh said, We will treat each other as human beings, there is one united society here – Beit Shemesh is a united city,” Bloch said.
“What won this journey was the fact that we put aside the rifts between us,” Bloch concluded, “I call on all party representatives to join me in leading the city.”
Bloch said that during the election campaign she chose not to put up her picture in some places in the city out of respect for the Haredi public. According to her, her advisors told her that it showed weakness, but she said she saw it as an expression of strength.