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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
United Torah Judaism chairman Ya'acov Litzman said Monday he was concerned that Neturei Karta and other haredi elements in Beit Shemesh, and to a lesser extent in Jerusalem, would use threat tactics to prevent haredi residents from voting.
However, a Degel Hatorah source claimed Litzman's comment was a tactic to awaken a haredi populace that has shown indifference to voting.
UTJ is made up of two political parties: the larger Hassidic Agudat Yisrael headed by Litzman and the Lithuanian Degel Hatorah.
Litzman said that he had already notified Beit Shemesh police that he feared extremists would attempt to intimidate residents to prevent them from exercising their democratic right.
"I'll be in Beit Shemesh on Tuesday with other party members to make sure everything goes smoothly," said Litzman. "I expect a lot of action there."
A Degel spokesman said in response to Litzman's claims that any attempts by the anti-election Edah Haredit - an organization representing haredim who resist any political, social or economic connections with the Zionist state - to intimidate traditional supporters would have a boomerang effect.
"It would be seen as an affront to their rabbis who are calling [on people] to vote," said the spokesman. "And it would encourage people to vote just to prove a point to the Edah Haredit.
"But if the Edah Haredit allows the indifference to reign, there will be many more people who won't go out to vote because their kid has a fever or something."
Besides the Edah Haredit, the Slonim Hassidic sect, which numbers about 2,000 people of voting age, will also refrain from exercising their right to vote. The Slonim rebbes, Rabbi Shmuel Brozvosky of Jerusalem and Rabbi Avraham Weinberg of Bnei Brak, directed their followers not to vote after the Belz Hassidic sect left Agudat Yisrael. The rebbes felt that without Israel Eichler, the Belz representative in Agudat Yisrael, they had no control over decisions.
Meanwhile, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, nonagenarian supreme halachic authority for Lithuanian haredi Jews, is expected to vote at the ORT High School in Geula, Jerusalem.