European haredim unfazed by 'loss' of Jerusalem

Belgian Chief Rabbi: Haredim should learn from this loss. They lost the election because they failed to unite behind a candidate.

The Orthodox rabbinic leadership of Europe, meeting in Prague at a summit of the Conference of European Rabbis, took the haredi loss of the mayoralty of Jerusalem in stride Wednesday. "Haredim will continue to control the city," insisted one Israeli haredi rabbi close to the Rabbinate. "No matter that [mayor-elect Nir] Barkat won; he can't form a coalition without us." "It looks like a defeat," admitted Belgian Chief Rabbi Albert Guigui, "but, on the other hand, Mr. Barkat will probably be going out of his way to show that he cares about religion." Even so, haredim should learn from this loss, said Guigui. They lost the election because they failed to unite behind a candidate. "Baseless hatred has always been destructive to our people, and baseless love has always redeemed it. I'm not following Israeli politics closely, but that the loss comes from disunity, of this I am certain," he said. Moscow Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt shrugged off the significance of the election. "I'm just happy Mr. [Arkadi] Gaydamak will have more time to help the Jewish community in Russia," he joked. He said he had met with Barkat in the past and is "sure he will be a wonderful mayor." A rabbi from England only wished the new mayor well. "Whoever runs Jerusalem has the impossible job of matching the city's physical condition to its spiritual significance," he said. "Good luck to him."