'J'lem gay parade? Over my dead body'

Mayoral candidate Gaydamak says he will lie on the road to physically prevent parade if necessary.

gaydamak sad 248.88 (photo credit: Judy Siegel [file])
gaydamak sad 248.88
(photo credit: Judy Siegel [file])
Jerusalem mayoral candidate Arkadi Gaydamak said Monday that as mayor he would be "ready to die," by laying down in the road so that the marchers would have to drive over him, to stop Jerusalem's gay pride parade from taking place. "I will never let such an event take place," he said. He charged Mayor Uri Lupolianski with being a "professional politician" when he allowed homosexuals to have their parade. Gaydamak said he had nothing against them personally and that they had a right to live in the city, but what they do "goes against Jewish tradition" because "they don't procreate." "I want to give religious status and values to Jerusalem," he said. Gaydamak's outreach to Jerusalem's haredi community came after his attendance at the annual Friends of Bikur Holim Hospital luncheon at the Kibbutz Ramat Rahel Hotel in Jerusalem. The Russian-born tycoon said he had "great respect" for the ultra-Orthodox way of life and that such Jews should be "supported" due to their observance of "all 613 mitzvot." As Gaydamak exited the hotel, he was asked whether he really expected to become mayor despite his disappointing third-place showing in the polls behind Nir Barkat (Kadima) and MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism). The wealthy candidate said that compared to his competitors, instead of talking, "I do things." He pointed out his $35 million purchase last November of the bankrupt, nearly 200-year-old Bikur Holim hospital in the center of town (that serves a mostly haredi community) as well as his ownership of the Betar Jerusalem soccer team, support for the Camerata Variety Center and other projects. "People see what I do. I bring jobs. If voters see Porush's shtreimel and the color of Barkat's tie and like them, let them vote for them." When asked about modern Orthodox and secular Jewish (and Arab) residents of the capital who pay most of the city taxes that keep the municipality running, but fear losing their neighborhoods to haredi encroachment, Gaydamak said the others were certainly welcome to live in the city but that the growing haredi sector observed an authentic Judaism that deserved to be supported. "It is my destiny to be mayor of Jerusalem. I will run till the end," he added. Dr. Raphael Pollack, the modern Orthodox gynecologist who is medical director and acting director-general of the hospital, sat beside Gaydamak but declined to talk politics after his boss left. During the luncheon, Pollack lauded the renovations to and growth of the hospital since Gaydamak had become involved with it, comparing the billionaire's saving of the medical center and hundreds of jobs to that of Moshe Montefiore, who in the early 19th century built the Yemin Moshe windmill so Jerusalemites could support themselves grinding flour.