Wednesday, October 31, 2018

An Extraordinary Election

Yesterday were the municipal elections for Beit Shemesh. Incumbent Moshe Abubul, who has already served two terms, faced off against challenger Dr. Aliza Bloch. And the winner is... unknown!

That's right. With over 40,000 votes counted, it is so close that the winner will be unknown until tomorrow, when the remaining few hundred votes from soldiers, disabled people and prisoners are counted.

Regardless of who actually wins, it is clear that Aliza Bloch was amazingly successful. When her candidacy was first floated several months ago, many people, including myself, were deeply skeptical. We viewed it as naive waste of time and energy. After all, in the previous elections, the non-charedi candidate lost. And since then, the mayor has been stuffing as many charedi voters into the city as possible. So what chance could she possible have? Not to mention the fact that she is a woman! (No sexism on my part, just a recognition of how many people unfortunately feel.) A seasoned politician told me that he was worried that Aliza would not only lose, but lose with an embarrassingly low number of votes.

Boy, were we wrong. Aliza Bloch ran the most extraordinary campaign. She had boundless energy and presented an amazing vision. She was relentlessly positive and always took the high road.

The contrast with Abutbul's campaign was striking. While the Bloch campaign spoke about how we need to have a united city, and had people from across the spectrum on its list, the Abutbul campaign spoke about how Bloch (a frum woman who gives a weekly shiur) is anti-charedi and anti-Torah. While the Bloch campaign spoke about how we need to improve the infrastructure and services of Beit Shemesh for the good of everyone, the Abutbul campaign spoke about how it is essential to vote for a council that will provide Charedi needs. While Bloch said that no matter who you vote for, she will be there to serve you, Abutbul said that if you don't vote for him, don't come knocking at his door. While the Bloch campaign appealed to voters to make their decision according to what's best for the city, the Abutbul campaign told voters that regardless of what they personally think, they must do what the Gedolim say.

The fact that the race is still too close to call is highly significant. It means that a very, very lot of charedim voted for Aliza Bloch. This is despite the enormous social pressure against doing so - all the signs and announcements that the Gedolim and the local rabbonim say that you have to vote for Abutbul, in order to promote unspecified "Torah values," and all the threats against people who vote for Aliza. It looks like we are seeing a new movement in the charedi world, where people see through the sham of "Daas Toyrah," and return to a more traditional community model in which the rabbis do not direct politics. I suspect that this trend will increase, although in general I try not to predict the future, except in hindsight. It will be strengthened if Aliza does end up winning, and people will see how she is not out to destroy Torah and religious life, as various charedi rabbis and campaigners claimed.

So, big congratulations to Aliza Bloch, and apologies for ever doubting her!

22 comments:

  1. i think this is baloney. they will say that any haredi who doesn't cower before the opinion of Moronan vRabonan [the Yated mantra] is a kofer and ein lo chelek lolam habah

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  2. "While Bloch said that no matter who you vote for, she will be there to serve you, Abutbul said that if you don't vote for him, don't come knocking at his door."
    It's sad to see how the politics of so many frum/yeshivish/chareidi candidates is so transactional, crude, and thug-like. It's like they're 100 years behind normal civilization.

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    1. Frum/Yeshivish/Chareidi and the republican party. And i assume the republicans would make the same statement about the democrats.

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    2. I don't think that US politicians of either stripe have said not to come knocking on their door if you voted the other way...

      And Dems and Repubs both do claim to be working for "the whole." Just the general rule is likely to be at play: Republican work for the forest, and that often benefits the biggest trees most, while Democrats favor individual trees in an attempt for all the trees to do well, but that can sometimes mess up the forest.

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    3. Because we all know how much Democrats care about the moral values of Republican voters.

      To claim that Democrat politicians care about Republican voters, but Republican politicians don't care about Democrat voters is actually the inverse of the truth.

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  3. I would imagine that a large percentage of the soldiers vote will not be for the Haredi candidate, (not sure if that applies also to the prisoners vote) so looks like her chances are pretty good - but we shall see.

    I live in Modi'in where elections are much less exciting, we only had one candidate for mayor, and he got over 90% of the vote, but almost 10% voted a green (no confidence) ballot

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  4. What is the size of Beit Shemesh's municipal council? (i.e., how many municipal councillors are there?)

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  5. Acc to Arutz 7 https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/254053 she has a good chance of getting in - if the prisoners and soldiers vote for her. Hope she does it.

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  6. Too bad they likely don't have exit polling for this election. I'd really be interested in knowing the percentage of male vs. female crossover voting from Charedi sector for Dr. Bloch and also the vote by age. My conjecture is that being a knowledgeable frum female candidate is a powerful expression of inclusiveness that by itself can appeal to people who are sometimes marginalized in the right-wing world or to the youth who may not be completely convinced they want things to continue this way. I'd like to be able to know whether or not that is really true.

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    Replies
    1. not to be too cynical, but do you think that would be accurate?

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    2. Exit polls are notoriously unreliable

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    3. There is polling error and it is hard to predict the results of a close election with them. But you can probably tell whether the crossover is 5% vs 25% in a given population. As the subpopulations get smaller, the results are worse, but women are a pretty big subpopulation.

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  7. "... you have to vote for Abutbul, ... and all the threats against people who vote for Aliza."

    We have the same issue here in the States: male candidates are identified by surname, and female by given name. We refer to the men with a respectful distance, but somehow we're best buddies with the women.

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    Replies
    1. Well, the problem is that my wife *is* best buddies with Aliza!

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    2. This isn't your wife talking to her buddies. It is a blog post for public consumption. Elly is correct. It smacks of a lack of taking her seriously.

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    3. Oy! Are you sure you weren't at all swayed by your wife's relationship with Aliza before you voted? Just teasing..
      Though maybe it would be helpful to hear the view point of someone who has a personal relationship with Abutbul.. I wonder what perspective they would portray?

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    4. In Israel, many politicians are referred to by their first names (or even nicknames), whether male or female. Netanyahu is commonly referred to as Bibi, Hertzog is Buji, Lieberman is Yvette, and Rechavam Z'evi HY"D was called Ghandi. In addition, in the Israeli army, officers are commonly called by their first name - so don't attribute the fact that she's being referred to as Aliza (which is also how her own campaign referred to her in their literature and campaign posters) to any lack of respect.

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  8. Classic old Yishuv vs new Yishuv. This has been going on for over a century. The old Yishuv still hasn't come to terms with the age of modernity and how to deal with it. The new Yishuv hasn't learnt yet, that change only occurs gradually - forcing issues causes regression...

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  9. The cynical reference to "Daas Toyrah" instead of "Daas Torah" is linguistic prejudice, and if the blog owner wasn't Jewish it might be classified as anti-Semitic.

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    Replies
    1. Definitely should be Daas Tayreh.

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    2. You must be a Lubavitcher. They say teyrah, Hungarians say toyrah. It has to do with northern part of Eastern Europe (teyrah) vs more southern part of Eastern Europe (toyrah). Complicated by the intermarriage between parts of Europe (I'll leave it there), and what yeshiva one goes to. This applies to Yiddish, but charedim might speak fluent Hebrew now, but when it comes to their Yiddish, something else.

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  10. "A very, very lot of charedim..."
    Reb Natan, I am extremely surprised at the poor use of English here!

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