I know Jason has already covered the elections, but I just could not let the whole thing pass without adding my 2 agurot.
I can't say that I am thrilled with the outcome of the Beit Shemesh (soon to be renamed Beis Sheemish) elections. But, as in a deomcrasy it is the rule of the majority, I can accept the fact that my "team" lost. I can deal with that. Happened all the time in Canada. Ok, so we hope the new guy will not be as bad as we fear and move forward.
But truth be told, I can not say that I am thrilled with any part of the electoral process.
I am not normally a political person. Sure I always vote- not so much because I think it is my civic duty or anything like that, but instead because I feel that if you remove yourself from the process, than you have no right to complain about the results or their repercussions. As we all know that I like to complain, I make sure to get out and vote.
For the first time since I turned 18 I was actually relatively excited to vote. Getting my voter card here was exciting. I am an Israeli and thus have a right to have a say in how my own little piece of our ancestral land is going to be governed. (This is even more meaningful since we are not sure we will get to vote in the Federal election in February as we will have been here less than a year.)
But I was REVOLTED by how the campaigning and elections were run. It made me sick to see the dirty tactics and disgusting behavriour by the candidates and their followers. I know that I needed to expect a difference in cultural attitudes towards elections, but what I saw bordered on needing to bring in a neutral observer with trained military personel in order to make sure we had a free and fair election!
Beit Shemesh has an online list (henseforth referred to as "the list") and the Ramah has a second online list all its own (henseforth referred to as "rbs2"). The shmutz going back and forth on the lists for weeks has been disgusting. Everything from "Gedolim say you MUST vote for our candidate or you are voting against Hashem and the Torah" to "I saw candidate X and his followers throwing campaign litter on a street" to baseless accusations of backroom deals and purchased votes from all parties.
It got so bad that both lists refused to allow any more election related posts to go up, and sending them in could lead to an immidiate posting ban from the poster. The Lashon Harah on the list was so bad they were coming it faster that you could read them.
Consistency is good. It is nice to know that sinat chinam is just as bad now as it was when Hashem destroyed the Beit Hamikdash.
Add to that the vote tampering and rampant cheating that goes on in this country at election time, and rather than being proud to be part of the system, it made me embarrassed to be Israeli.