‘I’m authentic Tel Aviv’

“I’m not a political figure. I’m not acquainted with all the tricks of politicians,” running candidate for Tel Aviv City Council Israel Goodovitch says.

Israel Goodovitch (photo credit: courtesy)
Israel Goodovitch
(photo credit: courtesy)
Israel Goodovitch, who is running as a candidate for Tel Aviv City Council, says he understands the people of Tel Aviv well enough to know they do not mind his political inexperience, his disdain for political debates or his late decision to decide to run.
And the former chief city engineer said residents also do not get offended by his sometimes inflammatory remarks.
“I told you, Tel Aviv is moody. [Voters] can decide at the last moment, ‘We want to f--- the mayor,’” he says, explaining why voters may not ultimately decide to choose more experienced politicians.
Goodovitch made his name as a creative, and often radical, thinker about urban development in Tel Aviv. In particular, he was a lead proponent last year of moving Ben-Gurion Airport to elevated platforms in the Mediterranean Sea. In 2011, he was a major driver of a plan to build 40,000 housing units in Tel Aviv and Herzliya, including thousands of units designated as affordable housing.
For next week’s city council election, Goodovitch is running as the head of the Medinat Tel Aviv party, the direct translation of which is “The State of Tel Aviv.” But he prefers “Tel Aviv State of Mind.”
Goodovitch aims to correct what he calls an “assault” on the Tel Aviv municipal government’s structure – in that the responsibilities and prerogatives of the mayor and city council have been obscured over the past 50 years by overlapping and contradictory laws.
He argues, for instance, that for decades, municipal officials have misled voters about the degree to which public housing, schools and transportation are the responsibility of the city, unfairly blaming the national government when CIty Hall had the power to address some of the issues. (A spokesman for the city of Tel Aviv did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the city’s interpretation of the laws.) This confusion, he argues, is compounded by opacity regarding the municipal budget.
His method of publicizing these issues – mostly through Facebook – has been unorthodox. While he plans to participate in several debates this weekend, he said, “I don’t believe in debates… What can you debate? I’m talking about the law. The law exists. Everybody knows it.”
Goodovitch says he personally updates his campaign’s Facebook page, engaging with voters.
He says he decided to run for public office this year because, at 79, he thought it would be his last chance.
“I’m not a political figure. I’m not acquainted with all the tricks of politicians,” Goodovitch says. “I was born here. I’m really Tel Aviv. I’m authentic Tel Aviv. And I love this city.”