This week in Jeruslem

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs: Deputy Mayor David Hadari announces he will not run for next city council.

MK Nissan Smolanski and Housing Minister Uri Ariel 521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
MK Nissan Smolanski and Housing Minister Uri Ariel 521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
So long, David!
Five years of active service on behalf of Bayit Yehudi came to an end earlier this week when Deputy Mayor David Hadari announced on his Facebook page that he will not run for the next city council. Until not that long ago he was considered the designated heir of the city’s national-religious leadership, but then found himself at the forefront of solid opposition from his own leadership. A combination of party leader Naftali Bennett, who to put it mildly didn’t value him very much, the rise of his main opponent, Herzl Yehezkel, who happens to be close to Bennett and the renewed interest in politics of the party’s past leader, Zevulun Orlev, combined to discourage Hadari. So far, it is not clear whether Yehezkel or Orlev will lead the list at the next city council, but one thing is sure: None of the present representatives – Hadari, Yair Gabai or Edna Friedman – will represent Bayit Yehudi after the October 22 elections.
Protests, take 1
Now that the Meretz list is closed – and includes two representatives of the Labor Party, which joined forces – the members have more time to devote to public protests. On Sunday, led by list head Pepe Alalu, a small delegation from Meretz demonstrated against the government’s plan to build 63 housing units for Jewish residents on the lower slope of Jebl Mukaber, an Arab neighborhood close to East Talpiot. Around the same time that Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel and Mayor Nir Barkat laid the cornerstone for the new project in a festive ceremony, Alalu and his followers stood on the other side of the hill with signboards condemning what they consider an obstacle to peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which resumed this week.
On the festive side, many of the attendees were young families, who came to learn more about the project that could become t heir next home.Protests, take 2
The question of whether the Cinema City currently under construction will stay open on Shabbat continues to command the attention of Hitorerut, the movement representing mostly young adult interests in the capital. Last Friday evening another screening session took place and attracted lots of young people, who stated that the theater should be open on Shabbat, as a mean of keeping their generation in t he city.
But that was not the only activity that Hitorerut supporters took part in these last few days. In another issue with a lot of influence on young adults’ daily life here, public transportation, Hitorerut joined forces with the 15 Minutes association, purposely boarding public buses through the back doors. The action was designed to send an urgent message to those responsible for mass transportation at the municipality as well as to Egged, to urge them to enable back-door boarding in order to reduce travel time.
It is worth noting that beside Hitorerut leader Ofer Berkowitz stands Hanan Rubin, No. 2 on the list, who, despite being Orthodox, has more than once expressed the need for facilities targeted at young adults that are both free and open on Shabbat. Now, Hitorerut has a new issue: a chief rabbi for Jerusalem. It is a matter of urgency to elect someone to that post before the October elections, say movement leaders. A letter addressed to Bennett in his capacity as religious services minister was sent earlier this week, requesting that he ensure that Jerusalem selects a c hief rabbi.
Need some help here
In the 2008 elections, Yael Antebi (Paz) – who ran on behalf of her neighborhood, Pisgat Ze’ev, and won a city council seat – was some kind of novelty.
Until then, Jerusalem hadn’t seen a case in which the local interests of a specific neighborhood were represented on a list. Antebi was therefore criticized by other council members who were against this trend towards the representation of narrow interests.
But today it seems that this barrier has been crossed, and as of this week Jerusalem and particularly Pisgat Ze’ev, with about 50,000 residents, will have another list representing it at Safra Square. The former president of the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood council, Avi Shalom, has taken the first required steps and formed a list. So far, it is not clear if Antebi will join them, remain separate or renounce the race.
Cherchez la femme
Blessed days are here for women in Jerusalemite politics. Women are being courted by several parties and groups with an eye toward the next city council elections. At present, there are no women on Barkat’s list nor on Hitorerut’s, not to mention the haredi lists of United Torah Judaism and Shas. It is unclear for the moment whether mayoral candidate Moshe Lion will also form a list – and whether he is aware of the new trend toward including women.
Neither is it clear if there is going to be at least one woman on the new, still-far-from-being-compiled Bayit Yehudi list.
But not everything is lost, since there is already one list formed mostly by women: Ometz Lev (Courage), headed by Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur and Friedman (formerly of Bayit Yehudi), who are seeking additional women to run on their new list.
All those who would seriously consider trying the political scene – be they religious, Ethiopian, Arab or other – are more than welcome at Ometz Lev.
Meanwhile, there is at least one woman who has already done a good job at city council – Merav Cohen, officially still a Hitorerut representative, is being courted by many. Cohen, who was recently included in the “30 Before 30” rankings by Bank Hapoalim and Channel 2, of 30 young adults under 30 years old who have made a significant change or achievement in the country’s public scene, is the ideal candidate for many. At present, at least according to unidentified sources, it seems that Cohen is highly in demand for Barkat’s list.