Battle for Beit Shemesh

Opposing narratives separate ultra-Orthodox and secular in the rapidly expanding former development town.

By ANDREW FRIEDMAN
December 26, 2013 09:48
Ultra-Orthodox are brought into Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem, Oct 28, suspected of voter fraud.

Battle for Beit Shemesh. (photo credit: FLASH 90)

 
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Even by the heated standards of Israeli politics, the country has rarely seen a campaign like the recent one for the mayor of Beit Shemesh, a small city 30 kilometers west of Jerusalem.

Incumbent Moshe Abutbul published ads employing Holocaust imagery to suggest that challenger Eli Cohen would lock haredi (ultra-Orthodox) children in concentration camps, while community rabbis in Ramat Beit Shemesh declared Orthodox supporters of Cohen to be “useful idiots,” and Cohen himself to be an “enemy” of the Jewish People.

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