Official to PM, Mandelblit: Make Kobi Quiet Down Already

Ron Kobi, mayor of Teveria. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Teveria mayor Ron Kobi is not known for his reticence – and not all find his anti-chareidi speeches and exhortations charming. In fact, he is doing damage to the image of Israeli mayors and local council heads, both in Israel and abroad, the deputy head of the National Association of Local Councils, Dimona Mayor Benny Bitton, wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit. Kobi “is harming us. Please make him stop his comments,” especially against the Interior Ministry and Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri.

“Mr. Kobi has been conducting interviews around the country and has been cursing and insulting Interior Ministry officials and the Director of the Ministry, making severe accusations against their ability to do their jobs,” Bitton wrote. “He is using social networks in a manner unbecoming to a public servant, he is spreading horrible stories and insults, and using verbal violence against government employees who are trying to do their jobs.”

Bitton said it was not his job to evaluate Kobi’s performance on the job, but his behavior was “clearly disgusting to me and many others. You can debate and discuss all sorts of topics that affect the lives of people, but Kobi’s insults and nasty comments must be condemned.” The letter brings numerous examples of Kobi’s excesses, including publicly accusing Interior Ministry Director General Mordechai Cohen of corruption, calling the members of the city council who voted against his budget “the chareidi gang of Aryeh Deri,” accusing chareidim of casting multiple votes during elections, and more.

Speaking to Walla News, Bitton said that “Kobi is certainly allowed to disagree with the minister, but he cannot insult and blacken the reputations of people who are doing excellent work. The issue is not whether Kobi is a good mayor or not, but when he speaks like this, what is he saying about Teveria residents? We have to respect their choice, but you can’t get into the media every day and insult people. If he has a complaint, there are courts, there is a democratic procedure. If he files a petition with the court about corruption, we will wait to hear what the court has to say. That is the way to resolve issues, not with incendiary speeches and comments.”

Neither Netanyahu, Mandelblit nor Kobi have responded to the letter yet.