"The kippa sruga who voted Barkat are the biggest suckers... They go to the army, work, pay taxes, and look what the government does to them - just look at Gush Katif."
By ABE SELIG
A sense of gloom hung over Mea She'arim on Wednesday afternoon, as the sting of haredi Jerusalem mayoral hopeful Meir Porush's loss to the secular Nir Barkat was still being digested.
The hustling buzz of haredim on their way to the polling stations on Tuesday was gone, and the quiet, subdued manner that often characterizes this modest enclave returned.
Whereas Tuesday's excitement gave way to an abundance of locals willing to talk to the press - an anomaly here - Wednesday saw a rescinding of that relationship and a withdrawn, disenchanted community with very little to say.
"I'm not involved in politics," was a common answer from shopkeepers and yeshiva students, even though the majority of the neighborhood - the same one that had worked diligently to promote its candidate across the city - had been not only involved in the election, but engrossed in it.
"I don't pay attention to those things," others said, as the now obsolete posters of a cartoon Porush blew in the wind from apartment balconies above.
Near the entrance to the Geula neighborhood, a fruit vendor who gave his name as Ilan tried to break it down.
"It's quiet here today," he said. "It's the quiet after the boom. Porush's loss is a big blow, and everyone here is still traumatized."
Ilan added that word on the street was focusing on the Ger Hassidim, who came out against Porush due to internal strife and, in some cases, purportedly campaigned on behalf of Barkat.
"I think most of the blame is going toward the Ger," Ilan said. "Porush made a deal with the Satmar [Hassidim], so the Ger went against Porush. What happened in the end? Porush lost, and we have a mayor of Jerusalem who doesn't keep Shabbat." He grimaced a bit at the thought.
"Still, it doesn't matter. What we need to realize, all of the Orthodox Jews in this city, is that we have to be unified. We split up into our groups, with our fights, and look what we got. He gave us a bill to pay," Ilan said, pointing at the sky.
Outside a nearby bookstore, a haredi man named Eli also aired his grievances.
"We suffered from two problems," he said. "The national religious and our own people who didn't go out and vote. We as a group have to realize that if we're not together, then we're weak. But am I worried about Barkat?" he smiled. "Nir Barkat has to realize that now he needs us more than we need him."
Still, Eli said he put most of the blame on the national religious, many of whom supported Barkat.
"I don't understand how they could vote for him," Eli said. "It just doesn't make sense."
Across town in Kiryat Moshe, however, the national religious crowd made itself clear.
"We don't approve of the haredim, and they don't approve of us," said Yehoshua, who learns at an area yeshiva. "I voted Barkat, not because of what I think he'll do for the city, but because I was afraid of what Porush would do. We don't dress like them for a reason, and I'm afraid [Porush] would have dealt with us badly."
Still, others said they had supported Porush, and now they were awaiting the consequences of a Barkat victory.
"The kippa sruga [national religious] who voted for Barkat are the biggest suckers," said Dudu, as he served food at a sandwich shop nearby. "They go to the army, they work and pay taxes, and look what the government does to them - just look at Gush Katif."
Dudu explained that by voting in Barkat, the national religious were, he felt, overlooking their own religious obligations.
"He's going to allow the Gay Pride Parade to come here, to Jerusalem, the holiest city to Jews," Dudu said of Barkat.
But Ya'acov, Dudu's coworker, chimed in, "I think everyone is out for their own pocket. It doesn't matter whom you vote for - this one, that one, in the end they're all the same."
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