The Hitorerut B’Yerushalayim party – a “pluralistic Zionist,” social and
political movement based in Jerusalem – is on track to garner up to five seats
on the city council in the October 22 municipal elections, chairman Ofer
Berkowitz said Wednesday.
According to Berkowitz, the grassroots party –
which has been in talks with incumbent Mayor Nir Barkat to join his coalition –
already has over 14,000 supporters on Facebook and is expecting up to 30,000
Such a turnout would earn the nearly six-year-old organization at
least four mandates, or seats, on the next city council.
“Our hope is to
get up to five mandates, which is a big amount when you consider there are a
total of 31 for the entire city council,” said Berkowitz, who is 30.
added that Jerusalem Awakening is continuing to disperse hundreds of volunteers
throughout the city to get its message out, which Berkowitz said has paid off
“A lot of young people are finding their home in Hitorerut
because they’re seeing we have a complete agenda for the city,” he said.
“Because of this we have by far the most support on
Hitorerut’s signature issues include cleaning up the capital
and keeping secular Jerusalemites and young families from leaving the city by
ensuring employment and a wide range of social venues remain open during
“We want to maintain the Jewish image of Jerusalem, but to also
offer options for non- Jews and secular people during Shabbat without
interfering with religious people,” Berkowitz said.
Indeed, the group has
held multiple protests over forced Shabbat closures of cinemas and restaurants,
which it says alienate secular Jews throughout the city and encourage them to
move to more accommodating cities.
Perhaps most notable among Hitorerut’s
many protests were its demonstrations against the forced closure of Cinema City,
a 15-screen, NIS 125 million compound being constructed above the Kirya
The organization was also actively involved in the
2011 social justice protests to fight for affordable housing and better jobs in
Hitorerut has also worked with residents of Ramat Sharett to
ensure secular and ultra-Orthodox residents are fairly represented by dividing
the grounds of the southwest Jerusalem neighborhood to accommodate both
Additionally, Berkowitz said his party has secured an
“understanding” with Barkat to oversee the city’s sanitation program, among
other programs involving younger residents, families and developing better
A recent report published by the group
regarding the capital’s ongoing garbage collection problem revealed that
Jerusalem is one of the most trash-ridden cities in the nation.
added that his organization has a formal agreement with Barkat to exchange all
extra votes short of an additional mandate.
“If we have any extra votes
that are short of gaining another mandate, we will give them to Barkat, and he
has agreed to do the same for us,” he said.
“We are the only pluralistic
Zionist group to have such an agreement with the mayor,” he
Ultimately, Berkowitz said his organization’s goal is to make the
capital more desirable and equitable for the party’s thousands of secular
“Our hope is to ensure a pluralistic voice for all
residents of Jerusalem, and to keep young people and families working and living
here, now and in the future,” Berkowitz added.
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