Analysis: Moshe Lion owes his Jerusalem win to haredim

Deri’s first name means lion in Hebrew, and he made clear that if Lion would be elected, he would be the one doing the roaring for the mayor.

Moshe Lion: Ready for the complex challenge. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Moshe Lion: Ready for the complex challenge.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Shas leader Arye Deri did not hide anything when he was caught on tape last week calling himself the new landlord of Jerusalem.
Deri’s first name means “lion” in Hebrew, and he made clear that if Lion would be elected, he would be the one doing the roaring for the mayor.
Secular, traditional and religious Zionist Jerusalemites, who heard Deri’s recording on the nightly news on Channel 2, had a chance to stop Deri and his fellow Lion supporter Moshe Gafni of Degel Hatorah from taking power. But they did not vote in high enough numbers to stop them.
In fact, many traditional voters in neighborhoods such as Gilo and Pisgat Ze’ev ended up voting for Lion, after he was endorsed by outgoing Mayor Nir Barkat, the Likud’s Jerusalem branch and Likud ministers Miri Regev and Tzachi Hanegbi.
Barkat, who made an effort to make Jerusalem into a global city, picked Lion, who is reluctant to speak in English or talk about any international issues, over city councilman Ofer Berkovitch, who speaks both English and French.
Berkovitch won by a wide margin in secular and religious Zionist neighborhoods. He was definitely the favored candidate among English-speakers, after he was the only major candidate to show up at an English debate, and Lion responded to a question about how he would help Anglos in Jerusalem by saying he would help French immigrants instead.
For a short time it appeared that Berkovitch could win, after he received a boost from the Agudat Yisrael rabbis telling their adherents not to vote. Agudat Yisrael wanted revenge against its partner in United Torah Judaism, Degel Hatorah.
But the Shas-Degel partnership was too hard to overcome.
The division in UTJ deepened on Tuesday, and it will be hard to repair ahead of the next general election. There is likely to be an effort to lower the electoral threshold to enable Degel and Agudah to run apart. They might have to run separately even if the threshold is not lowered. This could result in the haredim having fewer MKs in the next Knesset and less power in the next government.
But even if that happens, they will have control over the capital as a consolation prize. In Jerusalem, the kings of the jungle are the lions of Shas and Degel Hatorah.


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