Rules, bureaucracy and Shas

As an officially non-political event, the regulations dictate that a request must be submitted – with all the details of the event itself – no later than 30 days before the scheduled event.

April 26, 2019 17:54
2 minute read.
Safra Square

Safra Square. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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Bureaucracy and rules have never been friendly to politicians. Some even say that they’re natural enemies, and a successful politician is one that one who knows how to bypass them without being caught.

Something like that happened last week at Safra Square, as the Shas City Council representatives failed follow the proper procedures in requesting Jerusalem’s financial support for a major Shas movement event that takes place traditionally during the week of Passover.

The annual gathering of top rabbis and spiritual leaders of Shas, bringing together the party and movement dignitaries with a very large public audience, is organized by Shas’s umbrella organization El Hamaayan.  Being a non-political organization, the gathering has the right to public financing, as well as funding from the Knesset and the Jerusalem City Council.

As an officially non-political event, the regulations dictate that a request must be submitted – with all the details of the event itself – no later than 30 days before the scheduled event.

The versions of events diverge here. Sources at Safra Square say the request was submitted too late, Shas people say it was submitted on time but didn’t contain all the details as requested and the 30-day line was crossed before the event was approved. As a result, the committee which approves such demands was convened in a special meeting only to discuss the Shas event.

What happened next is also open to interpretation depending on the source. A Shas source from the city council says that  at the meeting they explained that “because of the sensitive period of the elections, we refrained from annoying the employees of the municipality on this matter, but once the elections were over, we renewed our efforts.”

A spokesperson for City Hall says that the request was submitted on time, but necessitated lot of work.  But after the legal adviser for the municipality examined it, the request was accepted and the financing approved. However, another source at the municipality says that considerable pressure was put on the officials in charge of the issue to approve the request, despite it being submitted after the deadline. “It is a matter of rules, not an issue of fraud” said the source, “and it is not the first time that rules and time schedule to submit projects have not been strictly observed. It too often causes trouble to the system, but we couldn’t reject it – clearly it was important for too many sides.”

So, the event was approved with NIS 500,000 of the city’s money. The event had men and women separated, another violation of the rules of the municipality, which is not supposed to finance events with gender separation. However, one thing was different this time – in former years mayor Nir Barkat used to participate, despite being himself totally secular. This time the Shas event made do without a mayor present. Mayor Moshe Lion, who apparently doesn’t have a political agenda beyond being Jerusalem’s mayor, didn’t feel his presence was absolutely necessary.

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