Secular enthusiastic about vote

Attempts to mobilize Jerusalemies and get out the vote appeared to have yielded results.

census people 88 (photo credit: )
census people 88
(photo credit: )
Attempts to mobilize secular residents of Jerusalem in recent months and get out the vote for the municipal elections appeared to have yielded results on Tuesday, judging by those interviewed by The Jerusalem Post. "These elections are important because it feels like these are Jerusalem's final twitches," Yarden Zurenberg, 30, a youth education project manager, told the Post as he sipped his coffee in a café in the German Colony neighborhood. Zurenberg said he had voted for the secular Nir Barkat, adding, "I've definitely been considering leaving Jerusalem, and it isn't impossible that I'll do so if [United Torah Judaism's Meir] Porush is elected." Tomer, 30, said he had voted for both Barkat for mayor and for his city council list. This time, voting was "urgent," Tomer said. "The city has numerous problems - from housing to employment opportunities. I don't think I'll leave if Porush wins, but I believe many others will," he said. Three secular women at a hair salon, all in their 60s, disagreed on which candidate would be best for the city. Mazal Haviv, a Jerusalem resident for 25 years, said she planned to vote for Porush. "I can't explain why Porush... I know that he has more experience as a politician, and I don't really believe in the young fellow, what's his name?" she said. Ahuva Gil, a resident of the Gilo neighborhood, said she'd vote for Barkat. "I don't feel like voting for the ultra-Orthodox," she said quietly. The third woman, a resident of the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa who asked that her name not be used, said she doesn't vote. "I never seem to find the place I'm registered at for voting and the people at the ballot box send me from one place to another, so I've decided to save myself the hassle," she said. But her attitude didn't appear to be shared by many on the streets of the capital on Tuesday. "I voted for Barkat, after not having been able to vote in the previous elections because I was a student in Beersheba," said Gal Cohen, 32, who was meeting business colleagues in a Rehavia coffee shop. "This time there's a need for all of us to get out and vote due to the tragic state of Jerusalem," Cohen said. He added he had been considering leaving the city, "especially now that all my friends and even my parents have left the city and gone to Tel Aviv and Zichron Ya'acov." Three seniors from the Hebrew University High School, also known as Leyada, were eating lunch at a cafe in the German Colony, with dozens of leaflets calling to vote for Barkat lying on their table. "We volunteer at Barkat's campaign headquarters, and we've already voted," said Danielle, one of the girls. When asked whether all the 17-year-old students from their high school were aware of their right to vote (the voting age for national elections in 18), the girls said that over the past few weeks they had held meetings to get the word out. "There is a high awareness among the school students we came across," they said. At the Hebrew University, many students said they couldn't vote because they were registered in other cities. Those who were registered as Jerusalem residents mostly said they would vote for Barkat. "There aren't enough apartments in Jerusalem and the rent here is super-expensive, there isn't enough culture and the public transportation is impossible," said Michal, 25, a photography student. "I'm voting for Awakening [Dan Biron's list] for city council because they bring something new and apolitical, and for Barkat [for mayor], because I had no better choice," said Ye'ela Mazor, 28. Daniel Charter, a religious student who made aliya from Texas four years ago, said, "I'll vote Ihud Leumi [National Union] for city council and Barkat for mayor, because I think that an ultra-Orthodox mayor might exclude many people from this city, and I don't want that to happen." One haredi student, Moshe, 26, from the Har Nof neighborhood, said he planned to vote for Porush. "I have checked both Porush's and Barkat's platforms and I found that Porush provides answers on the issues that concern me, such as housing and employment," he said. Matan Mizrachi, 22, a bartender at Café Rehavia, said he had voted Barkat for mayor and Meretz for city council. "I feel this city isn't as free as it was seven years ago. My mom works in the Ramat Eshkol neighborhood and the ultra-Orthodox yell at her to dress more modestly. Nightlife is nonexistent, high schools aren't as good as they used to be and transportation is unbearable," he said. Mizrachi said that next year he would continue his education in Beersheba. "But I want to come back once I complete my studies. I just hope there's something to come back for," he said.