Who’s the boss in Jerusalem? Moshe Lion?

The Hitorerut head claimed that the city is filthy and that Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion is not doing his job andis not fulfilling his pledge to clean the streets.

May 8, 2019 20:46
2 minute read.
Who’s the boss in Jerusalem? Moshe Lion?

OFER BERKOVITCH’S Facebook post about the filthy city.. (photo credit: FACEBOOK)

A recent Facebook post by city councilman Ofer Berkovitch ignited a fire that touches upon some of the most sensitive relationships at Safra Square.

The Hitorerut head claimed that the city is filthy and that Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion is not doing his job andis  not fulfilling his pledge to clean the streets.

The post went viral and reached the municipality’s sanitation workers, many of whom felt that Berkovitch, whether cynically or simply because he would do anything to damage Lion, had hurt them, accusing them of not doing their jobs. Considering the fact that the employees' committee of the municipality’s cleaning section had recently endorsed Lion’s request to institute an unprecedented fourth cleaning shift on Saturday evenings, they felt that Berkovitch’s post was unfair.

When informed that his criticism had angered the employees, Berkovitch clarified that he had no intention of harming the employees or lowering their morale. He added that he has a lot of respect for the sanitation workers and that his remark was uniquely addressed to the mayor, whom he held responsible for the poor results that he, Berkovitch, sees in the streets.

Berkovitch thought that the crisis was behind him, but it wasn't. Danny Bonfil, the powerful president of the Histadrut's Jerusalem District, didn’t like Berkovitch’s remark. As the “boss” of the employees in the region, Bonfil – a former president of the municipality’s employees and once convicted of fraud – could have sought to assuage the offense felt by the workers and restore business as usual as soon as possible, but he had no desire to calm the storm.

The man who twice in recent years promised to deliver votes – but with minimal success – has special standing at Safra Square. In the 2018 municipal elections, he used his position to persuade employees, members of the Jerusalem District Histadrut, to vote for Moshe Lion (he did the same in 2008 for candidate Meir Porush, facing Nir Barkat). In both cases, Bonfil had little to show for his efforts; Porush didn’t win in 2008 and Lion became the first elected mayor without a list of his own at city council.

Enjoying close ties with Lion, Bonfil is sometimes seen at Safra Square to meet Histadrut committee employees. He was the main force behind the dismissal of Avihai Avraham, former president of the municipality’s employees. Avraham declared, in a Ynet interview in March, that after Bonfil forced him to leave his post, he had a breakdown and became ill.

That brings us back to Berkovitch. He received a threatening letter from Bonfil demanding that he apologize for his post on the lack of cleanliness in the city or expect a strong response. Regarding Bonfil's words as a threat against an elected city council representative that crosses a red line, Berkovitch is contemplating what steps to take.

 The question now is: What is Lion going to do? Will he reprimand Bonfil, restrain or distance him? If Lion takes no action at all, it could be considered by some to be a matter of concern.

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