Hello, goodbye Jerusalem

Mayor Nir Barkat’s new focus of interest, one that goes far beyond this city, has become completely official.

Mayor Nir Barkat (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Mayor Nir Barkat
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
It has been in the air for a few weeks already, but now it is public and official – just like a secret love affair that suddenly becomes public one morning.
Mayor Nir Barkat’s new focus of interest, one that goes far beyond this city, has become completely official.
Right from the beginning, in his first press conference after becoming mayor in 2008, Barkat announced he was planning two or three terms as mayor, and then, “the sky is the limit.”
A significant recent step by Barkat on the way to fulfill his plan has been published.
Through the hi-tech company owned by his brother Eli, Barkat hired Katie Sheetrit, considered one of the most influential personalities in the Likud. Her job will be to pave the mayor’s road to the innermost circles of the party, and win their support.
This decision reveals several interesting things, one being that Barkat, realizing he is far from being a “persona grata” inside the party in power, reacts in exactly the opposite way to a true politician.
Instead of striving to get inside through the usual political machinations, such as taking part in meetings and engaging in direct ties where necessary, Barkat is proceeding like a typical “outsider,” hiring a person to open the doors for him – which he can do thanks to his enormous financial capacities.
While there is no question that Barkat always has been and remains an extremely honest person, untouched by corruption, there is more than a scent of “unworthy” behavior. Society expects a person whose official goal is to reach the highest position in the country’s political life to use means other than his bank account, even if it is not technically illegal.
So the fact that Barkat has been busy with his plans to move toward his next goal – the Knesset, and more specifically, a ministerial position – is not a secret or a surprise anymore. However, this is causing a growing sense of withdrawal from local affairs; some are even using the term “desertion” to describe their feelings about this new chapter in Barkat’s life as a candidate in the national political playground.
“It’s not that he doesn’t have the right to do so,” a hotel owner recently explained to this reporter.
“It’s just that now, this city and its needs have moved into second place in his focus, and that means that until the end of this term, for another two and a half years, Jerusalem will not be the center of his attention anymore – and we, the residents, will pay the price for this.”
Whether the bad feelings of business owners and residents are fair or exaggerated – after all, Barkat is still present at the helm of the city’s affairs for the moment – when they are added to the general sense of distress and despair at the city’s current situation, one cannot miss detecting the frustration and anger shared by many.
The capital has been licking its repeated wounds for about two years now.
Following the murder of young Muhammad Abu Khdeir and Operation Protective Edge, the current wave of terrorism and the very negative impact on its economic life, the last thing residents need is the sense that everybody – including the mayor – is running Shopping center and residential towers in Gilo. (Wikimedia Commons) away, leaving it behind and alone.