Secular Revolt? Not Quite.

The best analysis I’ve seen of Nir Barkat’s election victory in Jerusalem, and how the press has misreported it as a “secular upheaval,” is Amos Goldberg’s at Ynet. Unfortunately, it’s only up in Hebrew. If you read from right to left, click the link. If not, here’s a taste.

…In Jerusalem, this strict and destructive dichotomy between “religious” and “secular” as two options that exclude each other doesn’t exist.

Jerusalem is a city of daily interactions that allow countless possibility across a wide range of identities. The distinction between “religious” and “secular” in Jerusalem is a soft one, not polar and compartmentalized…

In contrast to its image, Jerusalem is in many ways the most pluralistic city in Israel, and for that reason it provides a real alternative to the “secularism” of rich, self-satisfied and prejudiced Tel Aviv…

Barkat won, Goldberg says,  because Menachem Porush’s version of ultra-Orthodoxy was itself too extreme, too exclusive. A more moderate ultra-Orthodox figure would have done better among many of the voters incorrectly identified by the Tel Aviv press as “secular.”

He also suggests that the desire for walls between Arab and Jew, as exclusive unbending categories is stronger in Tel Aviv. Instead of serving those prejudices, Barkat will succeed if he softens them. Goldberg expresses that as a hope, not an expectation. He’s not enamored of the new, nationalist mayor.

I don’t know where in the city Goldberg lives. But he speaks a South Jerusalem dialect.

2 thoughts on “Secular Revolt? Not Quite.”

  1. I’m surprised that he noticed the desire for walls is stronger in TA — I wouldn’t have known this myself except for having started working with some folks who live in TA—and don’t like, and would not consider, living in Jerusalem because it has “too many penguins” (haredim–notice that insulting the ultra-Orthodox is kef, but insulting their left-wing secular lifestyle is off limits) and there are “too many Arabs” in the downtown and “too many Arab villages” around Jerusalem.

    I find myself biting my tongue. A lot.

  2. I must echo aliyah06’s experience – but from the South Jerusalem perspective (I’m a neighbor of the esteemed SouthJerusalem bloggers). Friends from Tel Aviv who visit us will often remark how strange and disturbing it is that there are Arabs and “dosim” (a blanket term usually meaning u-O but often the moderate religious as well) on the streets. And these are left-wing coexistence peaceniks.
    “I find myself biting my tongue. A lot.”

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