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Election Bribe?

Rabbi Teitelbaum. Headed to Israel with money Photo: Yitzhak Weiss
Rabbi Teitelbaum. Headed to Israel with money Photo: Yitzhak Weiss
 
 

Satmar offers Israelis cash for not voting

Hasidic sect's rebbe expected to land in Israel ahead of Knesset elections, accompanied by US senators, with money for any person promising not to vote

Tali Farkash
Published: 12.24.12, 15:12 / Israel Jewish Scene

Israelis who are not planning to vote in the upcoming Knesset elections can make some money out of it: The anti-Zionist Satmar Hasidic sect intends to pay every Israeli who promises not to vote, regardless of his or her religious affiliation.

 

According to sources involved in the move, each person submitting their identity card and driver's license on Election Day will receive $100 in cash.

 

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Last week, it was reported that one of the Satmar rebbes, Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Teitelbaum, would land in Israel two days before the January 22 elections with $25,000 for institutions influencing their students not to vote.

 

Following the report, the Hiddush association for religious freedom and equality sent a letter to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and to Judge Elyakim Rubinstein, chairman of the Central Election Committee, demanding that they look into the legitimacy of the grants offered by the rebbe.

 

Hiddush CEO Rabbi Uri Regev argued that the move was an alleged election bribe, adding that "Satmar Hasidim have a right to boycott the elections, but they must not offer a bribe to others. They must be informed that the Israeli law also applies to them."

 

'Happy to receive legal summons'

Satmar spokesman, Yitzhak Weiss, told Ynet that the rebbe, who lives in the United States, is aware of Hiddush's appeal but intends to arrive in Israel as planned, despite reports that the police plan to arrest him upon his arrival.

 

"The Satmar rebbe will arrive on the 9th of (the Hebrew month) of Shvat, will get off the plane – and will be glad to receive a legal summons," he said.

Weiss added that "the rebbe, who knows about the demand to question him, will arrive accompanied by American senators who will prevent the move."

 

At this stage, the Hasidic dynasty is keeping mum on the names of the senators for fear of pressure on the part of Israeli elements seeking to thwart the visit.

 

"They will arrive, along with the millions of shekels the rebbe has promised, which are all designated for those who won't vote in the elections. We are aware of the pressure, but we're not afraid of them," said Weiss.

 

This is not the first time that Satmar uses similar methods. The anti-Zionist Hasidic dynasty sees the establishment of the State of Israel as a disaster and the Zionist government as an enemy. In the US, Satmar is considered a significant Jewish power.

 

NIS 500,000 for budgetless yeshivot

Weiss said openly that anyone interested in depositing their identification documents would be able to do so on Election Day at the Satmar synagogue in Jerusalem's Ezrat Hatorah neighborhood or at the synagogue on Nehemya Street in Bnei Brak.

 

He added that a Satmar representative abroad would be responsible for the depositing and return.

 

"It's not like drug deals, where you bring and receive on the spot," said Weiss. But sources we have spoken to and who have taken part in the process in recent years report that that this is exactly how it takes place.

 

"The payment to the institutions is aimed at getting rid of the arms of the law, and is being done according to an opinion received by the faction members," Weiss explained.

 

"No one is giving money directly to the voter, but to a yeshiva which increases its influence on the students and expresses lack of faith in the Israeli election campaign.

 

"The $25,000 is for institutions that do receive budgets from the State of Israel but won't vote. Large institutions which completely abstain from receiving budgets will be entitled to NIS 500,000 (about $133,000) from us, in accordance with the size of the yeshiva."

 

 

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