Grapevine: Passing the baton

A look in to Moshe Lion first days as the new appointed mayor of Jerusalem and Nir Barkat's last.

‘I DESPERATELY want to see the good in Jerusalem’s new mayor [Moshe Lion, shown here after his win in the second round on November 13]... [and that] he will deliver on his campaign slogan of being a mayor for all residents.’ (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
‘I DESPERATELY want to see the good in Jerusalem’s new mayor [Moshe Lion, shown here after his win in the second round on November 13]... [and that] he will deliver on his campaign slogan of being a mayor for all residents.’
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
ON MONDAY of this week, Mayor Moshe Lion and former mayor Nir Barkat spent most of the day together. On Tuesday morning, there was an official changing of the guard at City Hall in Safra Square. But on Monday afternoon Barkat and Lion went to the Western Wall together and in the early evening they came to the official opening of WeWork, which two months after opening already has an occupancy rate of 70% of its 430 office spaces. Barkat and Lion participated in a Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony in the presence of scores of merrymakers and people who have rented premises in the former Hamashbir building. Barkat lit the first candle, Lion lit the second and everyone present recited the blessing and sang the usual Hanukkah songs.
Adam Neuman, the cofounder and CEO of WeWork, an Israeli living in New York who maintains strong connections to Israel, met with Barkat during one of the latter’s visits to the Big Apple and shared his vision with him. Barkat, who believes he may have established the first start-up in Jerusalem in 1988, said there was nothing like WeWork in those days – and had there been, he most certainly would have rented space. In those days Jerusalem was going nowhere in the field of hi-tech, he said. But after his own success and his election as mayor, he had spoken to American investors and Jerusalem is now a thriving tech hub.
Benji Singer, the general manager of WeWork Israel, thanked Barkat for all of his help in getting the project off the ground in Jerusalem, and said that it was very important to have such a facility in Israel’s capital. Barkat said that even though this was his last ribbon-cutting event as mayor, he remained committed to the city and to its development and will be undertaking different projects in this regard.
“This is Nir’s last ribbon-cutting as mayor and my first” quipped Moshe Lion, saying that he was happy to be at the official opening of WeWork “because this is part of the future of Jerusalem and it is our ambition to open more projects.” He added that the event also gave him the opportunity to thank Barkat for all that he has done for Jerusalem over the past decade. He announced that he intended to stay in touch with Barkat, which leads one to suspect that when there is a need for a roving ambassador for Jerusalem who speaks English well, Lion may be turning to his predecessor in office.
Ofer Berkovitch, who was narrowly defeated by Lion, was also present, and in a good mood, but was not hob-nobbing with either the incoming or the outgoing mayor.
WOMEN AMBASSADORS to Israel are joining forces with Israeli advocates for gender equality, and with those who are engaged in trying to eliminate violence against women. Among the female diplomats in the forefront of such activities is Slovenian Ambassador Barbara Sušnik, who was a guest speaker at the Every Woman Treaty for the eradication of violence against women and girls event held last week in Jerusalem, organized by El HaLev and the Everywoman international organization. MK Lea Fadida was among those who attended. In her address, Sušnik stressed that violence against women is a human rights violation and a form of gender discrimination. El HaLev CEO Yehudit Sidikman explained the importance of empowerment and self-defense in eradicating violence against women and girls. All those present supported the Everywoman Treaty, calling for a life free from all forms of violence for every women and girl, everywhere.
El HaLev (To the Heart) is an Israeli non-profit, non-government organization dedicated to empowering women and girls through martial arts and self-defense training. The EU Study on the role of self-defense in the prevention of violence against women shows that self-defense is effective in preventing violence, and in terms of empowerment, self-defense is one of the few interventions that does not limit women’s freedom, as it seeks to expand it.
CHRISTMAS IS coming and with it the concerts that are part and parcel of the yuletide season. Getting in early is the Italian Embassy which together with the Italian Cultural Institute in Tel Aviv and the Emilia Romagna Concerti is hosting a Christmas concert featuring the Young Musicians European Orchestra conducted by Paolo Olmi, together with Le Voci Liriche chorus with choirmaster Silvia Vico and the Polifonico Ildebrando Pizzetti of the University of Parma with choirmaster Ilana Poldi. This event will take place on Monday, December 10 in the auditorium of the Pontifical Institute of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, just behind Safra Square, at 8:30 p.m.