Close this search box.

How The Israeli Secular Media Sees The Beitar Election

be.jpgThe following is an Haartez article regarding the recent election in Beitar:

At 3 A.M., more than 1,000 people were gathered in the Karliner Hasid auditorium in Beitar Ilit. Meir Rubinstein, a Bratslav Hasid who surprised all the pundits when he unseated the incumbent non-Hasidic mayor, Yitzhak Pindros, by a huge majority (60 percent to 40 percent), was carried to the stage on the his supporters’ shoulders.

After weeks of divisive politicking in this small ultra-Orthodox southern West Bank town, Rubinstein spoke in the conciliatory tones of the winner. He apologized to those “unknowingly hurt during the campaign,” and even invited his opponents to join the coalition.

Not that he needs them. His United List, which includes Shas and most of the Hasidic groups in town, took nine out of the 15 seats on the town council.

The real winners

But the real victors in the local elections Tuesday were Rubinstein’s patron, MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism), and Shas chairman and Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai. The two are seen, as one of the celebrants put it, as the ones who “finally broke the back of the Lithuanian patronage,” referring to the non-Hasidic stream of ultra-Orthodoxy.

Like all Beitar campaigns, this one, too, created complex alliances that constantly reshuffled the ultra-Orthodox political deck. Yesterday, as the sun rose over what the locals call the “Torah city in the Judean Mountains,” the outcome was clear: a defeat for the dominant ultra-Orthodox groups, mainly the non-Hasidic ones.

Pindros, generally considered a good mayor, lost because he represented the Lithuanian minority, less than a quarter of the population in a town where Sephardim and the smaller Hasidic groups are a large majority. Yishai has instilled new pride in those Rubinstein called in his victory speech “our Sephardic brethren” – those who had allegedly come up against discrimination in screening committees for potential residents and in schools. Shas, Rubinstein said, is now a full partner in the town council, “with no difference between Sephardi and Ashkenazi.”

Paving the way to Jerusalem

But long before discrimination disappears from the town, Porush is likely to reap the fruits of his success, reportedly seeing his victory in Beitar Ilit as paving the way to the mayor’s office in Jerusalem in 2008, replacing the non-Hasidic present mayor, Uri Lupolianski.

Porush devoted most of his speech to the refusal of the non-Hasidic groups to honor the agreements signed six years ago to support Rubinstein in the local elections.

He said – with more than the hint of a threat – that ahead of the 2008 elections in Jerusalem, Porush, with or without Shas, would insist on agreements with the non-Hasidic Degel Hatorah party that it support Porush or a candidate of his choosing.

Porush’s success in Beitar is a blow for the dominant movement in Agudat Yisrael, the Gerer Hasidim, of which Ya’akov Litzman is a member. Litzman was sure of a Pindros win, and most of the ultra-Orthodox media outlets were as well.

Everyone was surprised. Nahman Benshaya, a Bratslav activist and member of the Modi’in Ilit city council, brought dozens of activists. Supporters also came from Bnei Brak, Jerusalem and even Safed.

“We proved that the small groups in the ultra-Orthodox community can beat the big ones,” Benshaya said. “What happened in Beitar is a coming attraction for what will happen in Jerusalem. Porush is the real political underdog who gambled the whole pot and won.”


25 Responses

  1. “Pindros, generally considered a good mayor, lost because he represented the Lithuanian minority”

    It is very sad that this is what we base our elections on.

    Its more importent whats (kind of hat) on the head then whats in the head.

  2. It seems sad that a fantastic mayor, one who developed the city to double its size in the six years he was mayor, was outvoted simply because of the way he cuts his hair!! Is this what klall yisroel has come to?

  3. Who expected more from a self-hating zionist rag like haaretz to write something other than to twist a story to put frum Yidden in as a bad light as they could twist the facts?

  4. Forget about Haaretz.
    The point of the matter is that if there was an agreement to step down-it looks terrible for people to not honor their word.
    If Pindrus would have said your right,but could we at least come to an accomadation,maybe things would have turned out different.

  5. Yidel,
    According to IsraeliYid, the story is more or less accurate. Do you live there also, and if so, what is inaccurate about the story? Here in America, I have heard about this discrimination also, whether it’s true or not.

  6. Yidel, typical knee jerk reaction. Happens to be the article was pretty accurate. Exactly which facts were twisted?

    Tatti (#3), you are absolutely right. And Israeli Yid, I have seen the same. There is a quota on how many sephardim can live on each block. TELL me that’s daas torah!

  7. I live in Beitar Illit and understand what happened better than you outsiders who based upon bits of information give your inaccurate distorted comments.
    The bottom line is that so called religous politicians (whose behaviour is disgraceful) got involved for their own reasons and helped fuel this mess. Until the elections it was not perfect harmonious life here but it was not a war what is what we have know.
    Rubinstien’s campaign, although not run by him personally was vindictive, vicious and largely untruthful but good enough to get many to vote for him. Many people didn’t vote Pindress out of office because of his record but rather because he wasn’t one of us.
    And in replt to “tootired” yes the Sephardi quota was in line with Daas Torah. If you look at all the kids going off the majority are Sephardi, why is this ? The worst streets here are ones populated by Sephardim, again why is this ? Why do they all want to go to Ashkenazi yeshivas and schools ? This is not a condemnation but it does beg some thought.
    Regarding “bloggerman2” you obviously do not know all the facts.It would be wiser to acsertain the facts before making dumb comments, obviously you believe the newspapers.
    In the end the only winner here was the choti umachti es harabim polotician who caused all this machlokes acting like Zimri while expecting the reward of Pinchos. Unfortunately this is only the beginning of his crusade. No wonder Mosiach hasn’t arrived
    Hopefully we can return to some normallacy here.

  8. Extremely sad that some of the frum don’t get that our Tshuva from Machlokes and carelessness for others money (like an Eged bus) is awaited for just like the Tshuva of the masses to keep Shabbos, if not more…

  9. to rexford – the sefardim want to be educated like ashkenazim because they know the system is better, and maybe if they were educated with the ashkenazim (these are Jews too, hello) there wouldn’t be so many problems with them.

    Show me the statistics that the Sefardim are the ones going off, and even if you are right, well, if the people making the rules were prejudiced against me I wouldn’t really want to hold by them either.

  10. Thank you skazm for your perfect comment to Mr. rexford…

    And to rexford, your comments are racist, egoistic , gaavadic to no measurement and have nothing to do with Daas-Torah. I wonder if you thought about what you wrote before writing it.

    What’s the difference between ashkenazim & sephardim aside from minhagim and certain halachos?!?!?!
    Do you think your skin color is any better than a sephardi?!?!?!
    Just think about what color your skin will turn to in the grave – same as a sephardi !!! 🙂

    You should apologize to all sephardi people and do teshuvah…

  11. rexford,
    if you are any indication of those behind Pindros, it is a huge chesed that he did not win this election. As someone who works with kids at risk, your statement is complete Sheker. There are just as many Ashkenazi kids floating around the streets as Sefardim. From the most Chashuva families, too, from Meah Shearim all the way to your town, children are heading off — and part of the reason is because of folks like you, who are very “frum”, but are frum for yourself and based on your own mishigasen, with no G-d in the picture. Anyone who writes such a post cannot love G-d, because hatred of a fellow Jew indicates you hate the source of his Neshama — and let me reassure you, the spark of G-d is the same for Sefardi and Ashekanzi

  12. father10 – Oh father, forgive me for I have sinned! (Just kidding! I had to add that in. 🙂 )

    In all seriousness I understand your anger towards Rexford, however I think it may be helpful to you to hear another side.

    I personally am half Sefardi and live in Beitar. Is there discrimination? YES. However, do not mistakenly think that it is a one way street. Although we are half Sefardim, being that we are from Syrian Jews, our skin is quite lighter then most Sefardim and people assume we are fully Ashkenazi. As a result, since we moved in to Beitar we have repeatedly been the victims of many assaults and discrimination from our Sefardim brethren that were totally unprovoked. This is not to say that this is common place amongst Sefardim or that we have a name as being Sefardim haters. On the contrary, we have many many neighbors and friends that are pure Sefardim who know where we stand and have close relationships with us.

    The discrimination happens from strangers (usually kids) that ASSUME that we are “Askenizim” and ASSUME we are naturally discriminators against Sefardim. This is NO better than the discrimination against Sefardim.

    The fact is that unfortunately many if not most of the “at risk” children here are from the Sefardim community and this is what causes much of the animosity. It is my belief that this is due to previously allowing families of various religious levels amongst the Sefardim to live here. For example, you will not find Ashkenazim Mizrachi living in Beitar, but you will find them amongst the Sefardim. Beitar was a community created “specifically” for Chereidi Jews. (You can argue whether that is a healthy idea or not, but that is the facts). I believe that if ONLY Chareidi Sefardim (Such as Talmidim of Porat Yosef and Kol Yaakov) would have moved in to Beitar, there would have been a totally different attitude here amongst the Litvish and Chassidim towards them. If you go to the Litvish Shuls and Kollels in Beitar you will see many Charedi Sefardim amongst them. I think this makes a statement that shouldn’t be overlooked.
    Although discrimination definitely exists and it is wrong, non-the-less many times it is self inflicting. Now that the Sefardim of Beitar have gained a strong hold in the community will they allow anyone to move in or will they show responsibility to restrict Beitar to only Charedi Jews as was the original intentions of the city? This remains to be seen!

  13. Grose – Although nationwide you are absolutely correct, however, each community suffers from different parts. For instance, I have heard from reliable sources that the majority of the “at risk” kids in Ramat Beit Shemesh are amongst the Americans (which are mainly Ashkenazim). Here in Beitar the majority are from the Sefardim and a certain sect of Chassidim. Remember, I said “majority”, not “all”. This is a regional issue and “all” of us are responsible to bring them back to the forefront, not just those from their background. The point I believe he was taking is why they discriminate more with the Sefardim than with the Ashkenazim and Chassidim when it comes to who they allow to move here. BTW – I am aware of an Ashkenazi Mishpacha that was just denied entrance to Beitar, so don’t think that it is exclusive to Sefardim.

  14. MHMagid
    B”H the Sefardim have a healthier relationship with their relatives so if someone is less stringent in observances they are still welcomed with a smile, doubt if that is the ‘risky kids’ problem. How about opening the city to all those who want to join?
    Maybe some want to move to Dolev or P’sgat, heard there is no ‘risky behaviour’ over there? Ever wonder why?????????????

  15. Obviously by the comments to my post you misunderstood. I don’t hate Sephardim, infact my brother-in law and some of my closeset friends are Sephardi, I even used to learn in a Sephardi kollel. But one cannot deny the facts. I have spent many years working with bochurim and unfortunately, at least in Beitar the majority of kids going off are Sephardi.
    Reb Grose it is clear that you do not live or work with kids in Beitar, as it clear that your facts are so false. And that you have totally misconstrued by comments. Unfortunately facts are facts.
    Dear Father the difference between Ashkenazim and Sephardim is mentality. I do not mean this in a bad way, but there is a major differnce between the European and Middle Eastern mentality. And many times because of this there are clashes. I do not condone it.






  17. Two points:
    Regarding the discrimination of Ashkenazi schools against Sefardim: I live in Beitar,and my sons’ school does have a kind of unofficial quota on how many Sefardim it accepts. I think that this is very understandable and not at all racist. My sons’ school is trying to instill a Litvish education and derech. The education is directed by the administration and administered by the Rebbeim. But the atmosphere of the school is largely determined by the student body. If too many of the students are Sefardi, the atmosphere of the school will become Sefardi and not Litvish. The Minhagim of the students, the culture, and the values will become more Sefardi and less Litvish. The values and atmosphere of each community is unique and each community has its own Derech. My Derech and my school’s is Litvish. The Sefardi Derech is not better or worse, just different. There is a great benefit for the school to admit some students from different communities, if that is what their parents want. But the school has to decide how many students it can accept from other communities before the unique derech of the school is compromised. My sons happen to have quite a few Sefardim in their classes.
    I have some Litvish friends who decided to send there children to Chassidic Cheders. The Chassidic schools also limit the amount of Litvish children they accept – not because they dislike Litvish people, but because they want a Chassidic school and not a Litvish one.

    Regarding Pindrus’s broken agreement-
    The details of this were not reported in the secular press. The agreement was signed at the request of the Boyaner Chassidim and other Chassidic groups. These groups were backing Rubinstein 6 years ago and they requested that Pindrus agree to allow Rubinstein to switch places with him for the next term in return for supporting Pindrus in the first term. Before this recent election, these same groups decided that they did not want Rubinstein to run and they preferred that Pindrus remain in charge for another term. Therefore, Rav Elyashiv ruled that although the text of the agreement was between Pindrus and Rubinstein, it was up to these groups to decide whether to enforce the agreement. Since they did want to enforce the agreement, it was not binding. In fact, the Boyaner Chassidim were among the main supporters of Pindrus in the election. There were other Poskim who ruled otherwise. However, Pindrus can certainly not be faulted for following the Halachic ruling of the Posek HaDor. In hindsight, it does not seem to have been a wise move and going against the agreement did not look pretty to outsiders, but there was sound Halachic backing.

  18. Dear “Stan the Man” and “Torahis1”: To be perfectly honest I fully understand your opinions and in truth when I first moved out here I had exactly the same opinions as you have. However, first impressions are not always right. Sometimes one has to really delve deep into the matter in order to see the FULL picture. My attitudes have changed, not from coercion, but rather from seeing a broader picture of the situation.

    Furthermore, I believe that we MUST learn to realize that there are more than just one RIGHT way (which EVERYBODY seems to feel his way is THAT right way).

    Consider the following: I think all three of us have a hard time comprehending the way the Chassidim run Shidduchim. (Sort of say – “Srulik, meet your kallah!”) However, just because that may not be acceptable in our circles, that doesn’t make it wrong! If we go around criticizing our fellow Jews for not doing things our way then Ain LiDavar Sof!!! There will NEVER be Ahavas Yisroel between us all.

    With all the enemies of Klal Yisroel that we have surrounding us and throughout the world, do we really need to make enemies of each other by deciding who’s Derech is right and who’s wrong?

    That that you bring out about other communities having perfect harmony may be, but then again it may just be an illusion. Avraham Avinu’s love for Hashem was not proven until he was tested. Until then he was not called Avraham HaOhavi. Unless tested, it may be that those communities are just following the path of “Sheli Sheli, Shelcha Shelcha” or as the Goyim say, “Live and let live”. I don’t know. The only thing I know for certain is that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed by Sinas Chinam. It will only be built through “Ahavas Yisroel”. If you think that there is even one group or community amongst us (Klal Yisroel) that has totally eradicated this poison from our mist I believe you fooling yourselves.

    This recent experience in Beitar has shown our community what we need to work on. However, in its defense, when my wife and I looked into MANY other communities within Israel to live, we could not find one that had the same level of peace and tolerance (that has until now) existed in Beitar. I personally agree with the comment above that the strive here was fueled by outsiders.

  19. I too agree with the above posters that there are strong societal and hashkafic benefits to controlling who can join the Beitar community — and keeping out bad influences.

  20. In my post (25) I acidentally wrote:
    “Since they did want to enforce the agreement, it was not binding.”
    Obviously what I meant to write was:
    “Since they did NOT want to enforce the agreement, it was not binding.”

  21. Kolel-
    I think that about 2/3 of the way through your infomed and informative post you made a typo when you wrote about the Boyaner chassidim “Since they did want to enforce the agreement” when, based on my knowledge of what went on here and on the context of your post I think you meant “Since they did NOT want to enforce the agreement”.

  22. To all of you who blasted Rexford – I’m curious as to how many of you live in Beitar or even in Israel. You sound much like my kids who know the solutions to eveything- Iran, disengagent, tinokos shenishbu…anything. It’s not because they’re smarter than all the people actually dealing with the problems (though they surely think they are – hint, hint) – but because they understand the issues so superficially. THEY will grow up I hope, and mature.
    I live in a building with a Yerushalmi family, a slonimer family, a sephardi family and an American litvishe family (who, incidentally, sends their kids to a chassidishe school – so much for the horrible segregation in Beitar). Our kids mamish live in each others’ houses, my husband learns b’chavrusa on shabbos with our sephardi neighbor and we live in the closest place to Gan Eden.
    As far as Sephardi issues – they are a national problem…BETTER in Beitar, not worse. To comment on those problems from your computer in Lakewood or BP is immature, at best.
    To all of you who commented about Pindrus – If you live here, know the matzav and feel negatively – I “fargin” you your de’ah. If you are not here and were only commenting based on the article- you should know that you were poge’ah in an “oseik b’tzorchai tzibbur b’emunah” of the highest caliber who served every “miflagah” in this city with mesirus nefesh and don’t be so cocky about who has to do t’shuvah.(That does not mean “as opposed to Rubinstein”. I have no reason to think that he will be any less dedicated).

  23. As one who lives in Beitar I unfortunately have to agree with Rexford. The facts on the ground agree with him (at least here). Mr. Grose should check up his facts before commenting. All the replies to Rexford however well intended do not offer any solutions either. They have to be accompanied by actions.
    It is though interesting that one of the biggest supporters of Mr. Pindross and the backers of the Vaad Haichlus was the SEPHARDI rabbi of Beitar.
    Please bear in mind all you Americans who do not even live here but feel free to comment and criticize Beitar was set up to be a Charaidi town, with certain expected standards of religious observance and behavior. The Vaad Haichlus was set up to preserve these standards. Why does that make me a bigot and a sonei yisroel if I don’t want people who don’t adhere to the rules to live here? Why should my ruchnios suffer because of Ahavas Yisroel. Would you criticize Monroe or New Square for not accepting Mizrachi residents ?
    I think that you should all read Kollels comments. They are very accurate and right on the ball.
    And to sign off this whole mess was created by outside interference by one of the so called religious MKs who wants to further his own political power. One is not allowed to believe Loshon Hora but rather be choshesh, and when this person’s name keeps cropping up one really has to wonder.

Leave a Reply

Popular Posts