Burg: Porush best suited to bring secular, haredi together in J'lem

Jewish Agency chair says he supports MK's candidacy because of city's increasingly haredi demographics.

MK Meir Porush 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
MK Meir Porush 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Former Knesset Speaker and Chairman of the Jewish Agency Avraham Burg said Thursday that he supports the candidacy of MK Meir Porush of the United Torah Judaism Party in the upcoming Jerusalem mayoral elections because of the city's increasingly haredi demographics. "The city already belongs to the haredim," Burg said in a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post, explaining his decision to endorse the haredi candidate in the race. "The city no longer belongs to the secular public and it is worthwhile that they pay attention to this," said Burg, who stunned Israelis by his stinging criticism of modern Jewish State and his prediction of the approaching end of the Zionist enterprise due to moral decadence in an op-ed column called "The End of Zionism" in Yediot Aharonot in 2003. The article was reprinted in The Guardian and other Western publications. One-third of Jerusalem's Jewish voters are haredi, making a haredi mayoral candidate a favorite in the city. Burg added that Porush, who will be replacing Mayor Uri Lupolianski as his party's candidate in the November mayoral race, had the greatest ability within the haredi community to build bridges between religious and secular in the city. The former Labor Party lawmaker, who lives in the small community of Nataf on the outskirts of Jerusalem, quit Israeli politics four years ago for the business world. Burg, who advocates dividing Jerusalem and sharing it with the Palestinians as well as dismantling all the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, said that he did know Jerusalem opposition Nir Barkat at all, but that he disliked Barkat's right-wing campaign against the division of Jerusalem. Over the last year, Barkat, a self-made hi-tech millionaire who lost to Lupolianski five years ago, has been at the forefront of a public campaign against the division of Jerusalem as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians. His increasingly rightist stance in the largely hawkish city despite his affiliation with the ruling Kadima Party is seen an attempt to reach out to modern Orthodox and traditional residents of the city. Burg said that it was about time that the city's secular residents woke up to the reality in the capital. "The secular public is not so worried about this," he said. "After all, they don't go out to vote in mayoral races."