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…

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Oy, Jerusalem

Reading pre-election polls, I used to wonder how a person could intend firmly to vote yet be undecided. If you cared enough to vote, you had to have an opinion. If you didn’t like the candidates, you could still choose the lesser evil – and you were morally obligated to vote for the lesser evil, lest the greater evil win.

I have shed my patronizing attitude. Tomorrow I am supposed to vote for mayor of Jerusalem. I care deeply, and I’m undecided. Indeed, I’m more undecided than I was several weeks ago. I still believe in the obligation to vote for the lesser evil. But which of the major candidates – Nir Barkat or Meir Porush – qualifies for that dubious title?

Let me phrase the dilemma – as my wife did – in terms of risk: There’s an large chance that Porush will fulfill at least some of the the dark predictions of his critics. There’s a slighter lesser risk that Barkat will do what critics fear – but the damage he could cause is much greater. Electing Barkat mayor is akin to hoping that a pyromaniac keeps his matches buried in his pocket.

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