Madrid, Amsterdam and... Holon

Moti Sasson makes UK magazine's top 10 mayors.

Moti Sasson 311 (photo credit: Holon Municipality)
Moti Sasson 311
(photo credit: Holon Municipality)
The city of Holon has reason to smile this week, as Mayor Moti Sasson was named one of the world’s top 10 mayors by the UK magazine Monocle.
The 63-year-old Sasson joins the ranks of mayors of major metropolitan centers like Madrid, Amsterdam and Stockholm, who were also on the top 10 list.
Long known as a crime-ridden town, Holon was rarely considered one of the top 10 cities in Israel. However, in recent years, it has undergone a renaissance and a complete change in image, billing itself as “a city for children” and a national cultural center. The population has boomed, real estate prices have risen, and the overwhelming majority of cars now traversing the city do so with their VIN numbers intact.
The metro-metamorphosis was not lost on Monocle, which in its July-August issue said Sasson had “miraculously put a mid-size bedroom community on the world’s cultural map. The 63-year-old workaholic has brought five new museums to Holon, including [artist] Ron Arad’s groundbreaking 24-million-euro Design Museum, generating an influx of youngsters while inventing a distinctive urban brand from scratch.”
Started in 2007, Monocle is a “global briefing covering international affairs, business, culture and design,” according to the publication’s Web site. The magazine was “developed for an international audience hungry for information across a variety of sectors,” and is “more of a book than a magazine.”
The high praise comes as no surprise to Sasson, who told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday that “someone must have come to Holon and seen all the different types of public projects we have built. We’re doing a lot of great things in Holon and people can appreciate this.”
He mentioned in particular the recently built Design Museum, the Cartoon Museum and the Ron Arad Museum.
Sasson, who took office in 1993, did not hesitate to give credit to his colleagues at city hall, praising in particular city manager Hanna Hertzman and her “creative mind.”
The mayor said the accolades were just further proof of the changes Holon had undergone, which, he said, had taken the city “from one end of the spectrum to the complete opposite end.”
Though his city is small, Sasson thinks big: He told the Post his goal was to see Holon become a world cultural center.
“It may sound bombastic, but we would like it to be the cultural center of the Middle East,” he said. “Furthermore, we’d like to see the Middle East become like the European Union, with no borders, no wars. It’s a vision I have.”