I just got a call from Meir Porush‘s campaign central. Would I be voting for the Haredi candidate for mayor of Jerusalem, the polite young woman asked me? No, I won’t, I said. I’ll be voting for the rival candidate, Nir Barkat. And to hell with my blogging partner, Gershom, whose concern for an equitable settlement with the Palestinians in Jerusalem (justified) and his abiding suspicion of rich businessmen (somewhat less justified) has misled him into support for Porush (see “Sorry, Nir Barkat Will Not Save Jerusalem“).
Like Gershom, I’m extremely displeased rhetoric Barkat’s Greater Jerusalem rhetoric, which rules out any compromise with the Palestinians in the capital city. Barkat’s recent promise to build a new neighborhood for students in easternmost East Jerusalem seems to indicate either a willful ignorance of the state of the city’s Palestinian neighborhoods or a desire to pander to the extreme right.
But Porush is hardly a leftie on this issue. He, too, declares that he will keep Jerusalem united.
Jerusalem’s citizens are disadvantaged by having no reliable source of information about what goes on in the municipal government. The journalistic level of the local weeklies is somewhat below that of The National Enquirer and the national press treats Jerusalem as if it were in southern Tasmania.
So I can only rely on what I hear from people I trust, and from my own contacts with the city government, as a member of parents’ committees at my kids’ schools and as head of the building committee of my synagogue, Kehilat Yedidya.
What I’ve seen in those capacities is a city administration in which council members and top officials look mostly after their own constituencies. I’ve also seen rampant corruption, involving in particular the Haredi political parties. In contrast, Nir Barkat, leader of the city council opposition, has been available and helpful in all the endeavors in which I’ve been involved.
Is Barkat a messiah who will save Jerusalem? Most certainly not. Will he single-handedly keep Jerusalem united? In the end, it will not be the capital’s mayor or city council that makes that decision. The bottom line is that Barkat is the only candidate who can move the city forward into a more open and responsive administration, one that can begin to solve the city’s myriad problems with rational policies.
So, sorry, Gershom. Despite it all, I’m voting for the hyper-nationalist plutocrat. I’m voting Barkat.