A vision and a mission

In Jerusalem asked the five mayoral candidates to give us insight into their vision.

Special education protest flyer (photo credit: Courtesy)
Special education protest flyer
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In 2009, a year after secular Mayor Nir Barkat was elected with more than 53% of the vote, the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research issued a 420-page book titled A Vision for Jerusalem, edited by Gur Ofer. It was intended to serve as “a plan for the renewal of the capital of Israel,” a tool for the mayor and his staff. The study focused on the major problems of the city and suggested ways to identify and face them.
The broad scope of the study was centered on an examination of the demography of the city and its economic, social, cultural and political implications – from the lack and poor quality of municipal services up to the high cost of housing, the poverty of a large part of the population (cross-sector) and the issue of emigration of young, productive and mostly secular residents from the city.
Scholars at the Jerusalem Institute gave no indication of which, if any, of the city’s high-ranking officials (or present candidates) showed interest in the study, but a realistic estimation would indicate that it was a very small number.
However, at an informal talk with two of the leading JIPR scholars – Dr. Maya Chochen and Yair Assaf-Shapira – it became apparent that at no point did the basic issue of the vision for the future of Jerusalem cross the line from the theoretical to the practical.
For example, regarding housing solutions, there was never a public debate about how this city should look in 25 years. While towers have popped up here and there over the past several years, no serious discussion ever took place about whether we want Jerusalem to sprout a skyline like New York. The same is true for the basic issue of the size of the city: there has been no serious debate. Do we want Jerusalem to transform into a mega-city, or is it preferable for it to remain a medium-sized city of governmental, academic and health venues and facilities? To what lengths are we prepared to go to preserve its architectural gems and special atmosphere?
In Jerusalem asked the five mayoral candidates to give us insight into their vision; here are their responses:
• Moshe Lion: I envision Jerusalem as a city where it is wonderful and a privilege to live, where residents feel good and are proud to enjoy the best municipal services, a city where the young generation feels at home and wishes to remain in it.
• Ofer Berkovitch: I see Jerusalem as a strong city economically, prospering, with a large Zionist population, with mutual respect for all sectors – a city of justice and of communities, with a message of tolerance.
• Yossi Daitch: The beauty of Jerusalem lies in its capacity to make everyone feel at home. My mission is to preserve this vision and to prove that a Jerusalemite haredi mayor can provide these for all the different sectors in Jerusalem.
As of print time, candidates Ze’ev Elkin and Avi Salman hadn’t provided their answers.