Jerusalem’s colorful Mahaneh Yehuda market has always been part of the campaign
trail for mayoral candidates. The flesh-pumping trek through the market – or the
shuk, as it is known – is a time-honored tradition.
On Monday, Likud
Beytenu candidate Moshe Lion, escorted by leaders of the Mahaneh Yehuda
Merchants Association, embarked on his campaign trek through the shuk, secure in
the knowledge that he is now a bona fide resident of the city.
into an apartment in the capital’s Keren Hayesod Street last week to cement his
eligibility to run for mayor.
Although he has lived in Givatayim for
years, he has been doing a daily commute to Jerusalem in his capacity as
chairman of the Jerusalem Development Authority.
Accompanied by a large
group of young cheerleaders wearing campaign tee shirts with the slogan
“Residents above all,” Lion spent the best part of an hour meeting shopkeepers
All the while, members of his team handed out
brochures, held up campaign banners that also featured the logo of the Mahaneh
Yehuda Merchants Association, and controlled the volume of a portable sound
machine from which Lion’s campaign jingle emanated every few minutes informing
voters that Moshe Lion is the right man.
In Hebrew the message rhymes
Wearing a bright yellow polo shirt that helped him to stand out
in the crowd, Lion’s first stop was at a liquor store where they happen to sell
arak produced in Ramallah for only NIS 45 a bottle. His campaign banner was
displayed in the store before he got there, as it was in several other stores
throughout the shuk.
Mahaneh Yehuda has long been a Likud stronghold, so
there was little doubt that Lion would for the most part be warmly greeted, as
indeed he was, although there were a few people who objected to his
At the liquor store the people behind the counter ululated and
tossed candy at him as though he were a bridegroom.
He had barely turned
into one of the main arteries of the shuk, when someone ran forward to offer him
bread and salt.
At the flower shop, he received a religious
As he passed the ice vendor’s stall, the proprietor came
forward to shake his hand and wish him luck.
More people pelted him with
At a deli store the proprietor insisted on a photograph with
All of sudden a woman in the crowd of shoppers rushed forward,
embraced him and shouted: “He’s the king. He’s the next mayor of the city. He’s
the king of the world.”
Here and there Lion stopped to chat with
merchants – or, rather, they buttonholed him in order to air their
Most of those he listened to were very dissatisfied with the
status quo and had no good words to say about present incumbent Nir
“He doesn’t take a shekel and he’s not worth a shekel,” said one
in relation to the current mayor, who decided to forego a salary, and who
throughout his tenure has been working in a voluntary capacity.
complained that Barkat had made a lot of promises but hadn’t kept
Several of the fruit and vegetable stalls bore Lion campaign
banners at the entrance, but even the proprietors of those that didn’t came
forward to embrace him and wish him luck.
Lion listened to what everyone
had to say, absorbed what was said, but carefully refrained from committing
himself to anything before evaluating what he was learning.
At one of the
halva stores, he was applauded.
Outside the pizza shop, a woman shopper
shook his hand and told him in American- accented English how pleased she was to
meet him, and then wished him luck, using the Hebrew expression
Other native English speakers rushed forward to be
photographed with him and wished him success.
At a store specializing in
solely green produce in the literal sense, Lion was enveloped in a bear hug by a
man whose attire designated him as religiously Orthodox. The man blessed him
again and again, and it was difficult for Lion to extricate himself. Some
shoppers merely smiled and gave him the thumbs up sign.
At another fruit
and vegetable stall, the proprietor yelled: “Only Moshe will change the city. We
want change. We want something new.”
Word spread quickly throughout the
shuk that the candidate for mayor was walking through, and people – both
shoppers and merchants alike – were actually waiting to shake his hand, to
embrace him or simply to pat him on the back.
At almost every stop, he
was offered something to eat, but politely declined. But in one recently opened
French takeaway food store in which, judging by the menu, the proprietors were
of North African background, they simply wouldn’t take no for an answer, and
forced a helping of kubeh on him. Once outside, he gave it to one of his
As he was about to complete his tour, an elderly woman sidled up
to him and said: “We’re so happy you’re in the shuk.”
Lion smiled and
replied: “I am too. This place is absolutely throbbing with life.”
by The Jerusalem Post
what his impressions had been after his trek, Lion
enthused that the shuk “is one of the most beautiful places in Jerusalem” and
attributed this fact to the merchants, who he said breathed life into
“This is something that has to be recognized and respected,” he said,
pointing out that the shuk is a magnet for residents and tourists alike, but
more has to be done to ensure that the merchants can prosper.