Berkovitch only major candidate coming to English debate

Organizer: We are sorry Lion chickened out.

Ofer Berkovitch campaigns with Olim. (photo credit: YANNIK LISSON)
Ofer Berkovitch campaigns with Olim.
(photo credit: YANNIK LISSON)
Hitorerut leader Ofer Berkovitch will be the only one of the four major candidates for mayor of Jerusalem who will show up at Monday’s English debate at the headquarters of the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI), The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The event is being organized by former deputy Jerusalem mayor Naomi Tsur, who is now executive chair of the Jerusalem Green Fund. Until Sunday, the organizers thought the event would be attended by Berkovitch, Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin, and deputy mayors Yossi Daitch and Moshe Lion.
But Elkin is unlikely to come because he has to be in the Knesset, so he is sending the number two on his “Jerusalem Will Succeed” list, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum; Lion is sending Neta Deri, the number-five candidate on his “Jerusalem Is Ours” list; and Daitch, who initially said he would come and speak via an interpreter, is not even sending a representative.
“There is a large number of Jerusalemites who do not speak Hebrew but want to meet the candidates, be informed and make an informed decision,” Tsur said.
She organized an event in Hebrew two weeks ago, and all the major candidates came, except for Lion. She lamented that Lion would not be attending on Monday after he said Friday morning that he would come.
“We are sorry that he has chickened out,” Tsur said. “I have a feeling he doesn’t want to be seen as someone who cannot express himself in English, [and so] he doesn’t feel comfortable. He is going to lose out if he doesn’t come.”
She also criticized Daitch, who told her he doesn’t go to anything in English.
“He obviously is embarrassed, but I think it must be said: can we have a mayor who doesn’t speak in English?” she asked.
Tsur expressed hope that Elkin would be able to pair off with an MK from the opposition and attend at the last minute.
Little-known candidate Avi Salman will be participating. The sixth candidate, Haim Epstein, is an international businessman whom Tsur said speaks English well, but he will be abroad.
Berkovitch said that not only would he come, but he would also ensure that Hitorerut councilman Dan Illouz would hold the Immigrant Absorption portfolio and use it to ensure that information from the city would be available in English, to strengthen English cultural events and to help English-speaking immigrants find employment.
“I intend to strengthen the English-speaking population of Jerusalem,” he said. “It is unfortunate that the other candidates decided not to attend this important event. I will work hand in hand with this important community as mayor.”