Events and non-events

Jerusalem's mayor may be trying a little too hard to dissociate himself from cultural events.

lupolianski 88 (photo credit: )
lupolianski 88
(photo credit: )
Many eagle-eyed observers noticed (and In Jerusalem reported) that our mayor did not attend the Israel Festival opening press conference, nor did he contribute a letter of congratulations to the printed brochure. He didn't show up at the ceremony inaugurating the "Peace Tents," by French artist Clara Halter, either. And with all due respect to the festival, his absence from this event was far more significant, since, for the first time in the long period of Israel's and France's unhappy relationship, an official representative of the Republique attended a ceremony in Israel's capital city - which, you may remember, they do not recognize. And since the tents are located in an area the French insist is "occupied territory" - in an area of Abu Tor annexed to Jerusalem after the Six Day War - their presence at the opening was even more intriguing. Some people in City Hall have explained that Mayor Uri Lupolianski tries as hard as he can to avoid being personally connected to cultural events that are not in strict accordance with Jewish rabbinical law. Not only has the mayor disappeared from the cultural scene in the city - where his deputy, Yigal Amedi, has replaced him. On posters advertising the Jerusalem Day celebrations, he is listed as "congratulating" rather than "hosting." So this is a new form of status quo: Lupolianski would never do anything to harm or prevent cultural activities from taking place in the city and he won't block their budgets, but he is very careful to avoid any personal association with these events, considered to'eva (disgustingly impure) by his fellow haredi coalition members. But life in Kikar Safra is often very funny. While the French foreign minister diplomatically avoided any hint of the politically incorrect (from his government's point of view, that is) location of the "Peace Tents," our mayor was involved in another kind of typically Israeli activity, which has also angered the French authorities in the past. No, he was not trying to steal any secret recipe for croissants. Lupolianski was visiting the Jewish communities of France, acting as an emissary to encourage aliya by convincing these Jewish French citizens to leave the croissants (and the baguettes and brioches, too) behind and become citizens of the Holy City. It's too early to say whether or not he succeeded in this new, and somewhat unexpected, municipal activity. But perhaps the visit to France was at least sweet enough for the mayor to help him to overcome the bitter taste of the decision by the Interior Ministry's Special Committee. As In Jerusalem has reported ("Legal battles," April 28), this special committee composed of the legal advisers of the ministry and the Center for Local Authorities reached their conclusions: most agreed that attorney Yossi Havilio is a true defender of the law and that nothing in the manner in which he fulfills his duty would justify firing him, as the mayor has requested. One of the members of this special committee specifically stated that while Havilio has apparently contributed his fair share to his deteriorated relationship with the mayor, the mayor does have the right to bring his intent to fire him to the next city council meeting. But all of the members of the committee agreed that by not allowing Havilio to hire more lawyers - a means of "punishing" him - the mayor has caused real harm to the city and the taxpayers. Opposition members Nir Barkat and Sa'ar Netanel have already made it clear that this last point may be grounds for a petition to the High Court of Justice, so please do stay tuned.