Friday, October 25, 2013


Beit Shemesh Anti-Religious Protest (pics)

The Israeli city of Beit Shemesh continues to make the national (and international) news as the leading edge of Jew on Jew, or Israeli on Israel, cultural conflict.

Following the re-election of the incumbent ultra-orthodox Jewish mayor via a campaign focused on being anti-non-religiously-observant Jews by a razor thin margin combined with a variety of allegations of voter fraud, the non-religious section of town organized a protest against a stolen election and a town that is moving culturally away from their way of life.

Their form of protest was a rolling protest – driving very slowly down the main thoroughfares of the religious sections of town, honking, shouting and hanging protest signs out their car windows.

This had the potential for serious confrontation, but having had their candidate win the election the religious segment was taking it in good cheer, heavily crowding the streets and watching as if it was a parade.  The police were escorting as well, pushing back anyone straying into the street and pushing people back into their cars if they were acting particularly nasty or threatening.

I joined the street in Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet, the ultra-orthodox and extremists enclave, and grabbed some pictures.  Here they are…

While you normally hear about the ultra-orthodox tightly gender segregating, but for this evening’s entertainment full families were in attendance, as well as women or girls grouped right next to the men or boys.

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The crowd was actually waving for the protesting cars to stay slow enough that they could read the signs and discuss.

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The police were keeping order, no one on the religious side gave them any trouble.  Some of the upset people in the protest cars did.

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The crowds were large all up and down the street.  Out for the parade?  The mood was actually festive.

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There were some very angry protestors and the possibility of confrontation.  But the police pushed back anyone stepping forward from the crowd and pushed people back into their cars, keeping it peaceful.

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Take a look on the observers faces.  They’re enjoying the parade – not the intention of the protestors.

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The police left, but then another car came through.  With the police gone he did get surrounded as the group surged into the street.  But the mood wasn’t nasty (fortunately) so the situation didn’t turn unpleasant, with people moving for him to drive on a few moments later.

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The rolling protest then proceeded on into Ramat Beit Shemesh Alef, which is the Anglo or English speaking immigrant part of town.  Note that section of town, which also is predominantly ultra-orthodox, though with an American or European twist, also voted primarily for the incumbent mayor.  That said, it is not an area that has protests, actions by zealots or any issues with non-religious people entering their part of town.

It may be the first time there’s been a protest of any type in that part of town, and it was a protest against the voting choices of the residents.

The protestors exercised their right to protest, the protestees took it in good cheer, and the police did their job well of keeping the groups separated but able to express themselves.

What this means for the ongoing cultural divide and social conflict remains to be seen.


  1. I live in Beit Shemesh and am religious!!! I was also at the demonstration yesterday specifically due to the lies and vote stealing issues. As a matter of fact, your post
    Is a good example. Most of the people at yesterday's demonstration were Religious!!!!! It was not an anti religious demonstration at all! However, it was anti Haredi politicians who are overim on issuers Torah for their political cause. So actually it was a demonstration for religiousness !! Please do not slander or besmirch the protestors. This is hat the policians are doing.

    gut Shabbos

  2. The issues are OBVIOUS. According to a map I found and can only email it to you, Cohen should have won, based only on the (red) portion attributed to the votes. The (blue) areas don't appear to dominate; however, there seems to be a definite split in voting ideologies. (Of course, this may not reflect the density of population in both areas.

    The fact that there were documented forgeries, and other mishaps which Cohen is accumulating for analysis, I think, would call for a reVote with police monitoring.

  3. The Haredim, Datti and Secular are largely not living in separate areas but Actually on the same streets and within in the same Buildings. In fact the Tov party that did Not want Abutbol is centered in an area surrounded by Haredim and of course Tov people too.


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