Jerusalem mayor tackles English

Oppositionist Barkat blasts mayor: "The problem is not the language, it is the content," he said. "He has nothing to sell."

lupolianski 224.88  (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
lupolianski 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
During last month's international mayor's conference in Jerusalem, Mayor Uri Lupolianski delivered his public addresses in Hebrew, confining his English to several words at the beginning of his remarks. On Sunday, city officials revealed that Lupolianski, 56, is taking English lessons from a private tutor. The lessons, which take place in the mayor's office, cost the municipality NIS 150 an hour, according to the Jerusalem weekly Ha'ir. The city did not comment on the lessons's cost, nor would it say how many hours a week Lupolianski was studying. The move comes as the capital's first haredi mayor enters his fifth year in office, and a year before municipal elections. "We are talking about a certified tutor who works with the Foreign Ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality, who holds preparatory meetings in foreign languages ahead of international events and conferences such as the international mayor's conference, and meetings with senators, ambassadors and donors," the city said in a statement. Seven such meetings had been held since the beginning of the year, it added. The city has recently authorized the hiring of a public relations firm to deal with foreign-language queries and speeches at a reported cost of nearly NIS 200,000. Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat, who likely will run against Lupolianski once more in the November 2008 mayoral election, said Sunday the mayor's inability to speak English well was not the crux of the problem. "The problem is not the language, it is the content," he said. "He has nothing to sell."