Dear Bet Shemesh,
In just over a week we’re going back to the polls. The city is heating up and I have a request.
Beit Shemesh is a great place. Daily life here is normal. Kids go to school, play outside, ride bikes and generally cause havoc. Parents work or learn (or both), take care of our families and race towards Shabbat. All of us have regular concerns like education, recreation, quality of life, and keeping our kids safe.
We want programs, parks and opportunities. We want safe, clean streets, access to health care and open spaces. We want schools with good education, in proper buildings in good condition. We want smart city planning and enough parking for residents. We want public spaces to be garbage free, parks that are age appropriate and in good repair.
We want the city to be a place we can live in and enjoy. We want new neighborhoods built with enough open spaces, schools, and shopping to serve the residents.
However, there are people who don’t want us to think of these things when we go to vote. They don’t want us to vote based on issues that concern us, our kids and our city. They don’t want us to consider who will be best at management, planning, allocating resources and improving quality of life.
They want us to see this election as a religious war and they use language from our holy books to portray it as such.
This was done last time to a sickening degree.
And here it is again:
This sign says, “This man is counting on your apathy.” And then tells us — in language straight from the Book Of Esther — to ‘gather and defend our lives’ against those who have come to destroy us (the rest of the verse in Esther reads “to destroy, to kill, and annihilate any armed force of people or province that might attack (you), children and women included…”)
This is straight up incitement and vilification. (The man on the poster by the way, is Yair Lapid, who has nothing to do with Bet Shemesh.)
It is an insult our intelligence and our integrity to think that fear tactics and irrelevant issues are going to scare us into forgetting what it is we should be looking for in municipal elections.
It is this kind of fear mongering that creates the tensions we do not want in Bet Shemesh!
Where are the posters that speak of what matters to us? Where are the signs that talk about getting our kids out of caravans? That promise a clean, positive, efficient city hall? That speak of unifying this torn city? And how after these divisive posters that pit resident against resident does he intend to repair the rifts he sows?
I did not, and I’m sure you did not, move to this country to fight with others Jews about the very few things that divide us!
We are told that if Eli Cohen is elected he will destroy our religious way of life. However, Eli Cohen has declared that no business licenses will be issued for Shabbat opening, nor will buses run on Shabbat if he should be mayor. Eli does not seek to destroy anyone’s way of life, rather to make Bet Shemesh a city where everyone can live their lives in a city that is run with positivity and pride.
Eli has offered to debate the issues that matter to Bet Shemesh one on one with the mayor on numerous occasions. The mayor has consistently refused to do so. Why?
What could be better for the residents than to hear from each candidate what they plan on doing for us? What possible reason could he have to refuse to let us hear directly from them their plans for Beit Shemesh and vote accordingly?
Bet Shemesh needs a mayor who cares for his citizens not one who sees them as sheep to be fed with fear and slander of his opponent.
Bet Shemesh needs a mayor who takes responsibility, has principles and guts. Bet Shemesh needs a mayor who will run a corruption free, nepotism free, backhand-deal free municipality. Bet Shemesh needs a mayor who can balance budgets, preserve our open spaces, build responsibly, prioritize education and youth, clean our streets, and focus on all that is good and positive in this city.
Bet Shemesh needs unification, not further division.
I ask you, please, when considering who to vote for, think of what you and your kids need. Don’t allow those with agendas to create fear in your minds and control you with propaganda and lies. Investigate for yourselves. Ask the questions that matter to you. Demand an open debate between the candidates.
Beit Shemesh deserves more than to be used as a pawn in people’s turf wars.
Let’s make sure we get it.