Enemies at the gate

Nir Barkat's haredi affairs adviser Uri Kroizer has been accused of being a Trojan horse.

Long before it became a synonym for computer spy programs, a Trojan horse was a metaphor for an ingenious weapon that takes the enemy by surprise. In ancient Greece, the Trojan horse was used to bring a beautiful woman back home. But today in politics, it is not unusual to find representatives from one side giving advice to the other side. For example, if you are a prime minister you might like to keep on hand an expert in haredi affairs in order to prevent painful errors. The same goes for a mayor. And ours nominated a young and some say ambitious young haredi to advise him on how to handle delicate issues regarding the haredi community in the city. Our adviser is a fine young man, known and appreciated by his haredi peers and by secular figures in the media. Until recently, a bright future was predicted for him by all. Until, that is, the Kikar Safra parking-lot issue erupted and dimmed Uri Kroizer's prospects. Whatever the reasons were that compelled him to act the way he did - naivete or lack of deep understanding of the society he grew up in - the results, so far, are rather gloomy. Last week Kroizer (and his family) were accused of desecrating Shabbat, causing blasphemy and, perhaps the worst accusation of all, having become a collaborator with evil forces. The accusers - the tough guys from Eda Haredit and some other "less" extremist circles in the haredi community - are convinced that they have found the real villain behind the opening of the parking lot, the one who came from their ranks in order to betray them and bring shame and destruction on the entire community, no less. All that because, according to information in the local Hebrew press, their secret services - they do have such jobs in the Eda Haredit - discovered that Kroizer, who they believed naively was advising the mayor not to hurt their religious feelings, was advising Mayor Barkat to hold on to his decision to open the parking lot, assuring him that "within two or three weeks the haredim will give in and calm down." The reaction was immediate. Barkat and his parking lot became almost irrelevant, Kroizer and his ambitions to succeed in the "real" world outside haredi society became the real enemy - the worst kind: the one who comes from inside and knows how and where to hurt the deepest. Since last week, pashkevilim, demonstrations around his house, threats and curses have become his daily menu and, according to sources at Kikar Safra, Kroizer rarely comes out of his office, trying to avoid embarrassing encounters with his former colleagues. The problem is that Kikar Safra is still quite full of haredi representatives, though not from the Eda Haredit, but still there might be a very unpleasant encounter in the municipality's elevators. So, according to these sources, the adviser who believed he could bridge both sides of the stream now finds himself in troubled waters. The question that remains is who's advising the mayor on haredi issue, now that the current adviser apparently needs some good advice himself? The haredi adviser's epic is not the only story happening at Kikar Safra these days. Another adviser, the mayor's arts and culture adviser, has been caught forging his employee card by a detective service hired by the city comptroller, attorney Shlomit Rubin. After many complaints regarding the adviser reached her desk, Rubin decided to put him under surveillance and discovered what has been public knowledge to quite a few employees at Kikar Safra. David Suzannah, the adviser in question, countered that he couldn't walk to the employees' time clock because of his medical condition and intimated that he was earning such a miserable salary that it didn't justify the way he was treated by the people surrounding the mayor. An unofficial source in the mayor's office remarked that the salaries of the mayor's assistants were known to be low; and since he assumed his position, Mayor Barkat has not used Suzannah's services, which in fact puts him back in the position of mere adviser for the municipality, a position in which he cannot benefit from too many bonuses, such as not signing in when he enters and leaves city hall.