Montag Is Still Trying to Silence Mehadrinews!

Mehadrinews
ז' אדר ה'תשע"ח 22/02/18
On the public's right to know, and the duty to investigate public servants

Council member Moshe Montag and his aides are unhappy with some of the legitimate criticism shown their way.

Mehadrinews' credo from Day One has been our duty to publish accurate information on what elected officials are doing or not doing. Our critiques have not skipped over any public servants, starting with the mayor, and ending with the puniest municipal apparatchik.

Montag, too, has been mentioned in our articles, and has occasionally been subjected to severe criticism. It is important to note, he was also praised for things he did right.

Four months ago, as the winter semester opened in our holy Yeshivas, we received a telephone call. On the other end of the line was a certain close associate of Montag's (a known figure in the city's political landscape). Montag's man requested we put up a positive "Public Relations" piece describing a noble action by Mr. Montag.

Montag, as the school semester started, distributed cakes and beverages to the young Yeshiva students before their journey to a period packed with G-d-fearing Torah study.

As the article was being written, complaints began arriving from city residents that instead of doing his nominal job; building up the city, and improving residents' lives, Montag is busy distributing cake.

Furthermore, the cakes were emblazoned with his political title: "With the Torah's blessing, Moshe Montag, Head of Beit Shemesh Municipality's Construction Department".

The timing, too, raised questions, since the day was precisely the last day a city representative is permitted to give out presents, without this being considered criminal election bribery; a year and a day before the date of the municipal elections…

Mehadrinews showed the pictures, but instead of being an ordered PR puff piece, it evolved into quoting the city residents wondering whether the job title on the cakes meant Montag was using his own department or even municipal funds for his own purposes. As is our wont, we did not refrain from voicing these complaints and questions, as sensitively and carefully as possible, of course.

So, what do you do when you don't like criticism? You approach secular courts. When mere pressure failed, a civil suit was laid on Mehadrinews' desk.

Surprisingly, the case was not opened in Beis Din, as the holy Torah requires of us, but in competing secular court. We must remind the reader Montag is not a member of the Likud party, but of religious Degel Hatorah. Montag was himself elected on the basis of the slogan "And you shall do all they rule for you", a verse commanding us to obey duly ordained Torah judges.

We repeat: Mehadrinews has no fear of threats and suits. We will continue bringing our readers objectively true news items, as you demand and deserve.

Mehadrinews is willing to respond to any civil claim in Beis din. Indeed, an summons was already sent by Rabbi Nissim Attiyah's Beis Din to Montag, and Montag has responded that he saw the letter at a delay, and requested a postponement, see below:

We will continue updating you with developments as they arise.

Bottom line: Less than a year before municipal elections is no time for government media censorship!

This article first appeared in Hebrew.