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What They Are Saying, Oct. 2, 2008
Can a New Mayor Help 'Save' Jerusalem From Itself?
Columnist Shmuel Rosner writes in www.slate.com on Sept. 24 about the upcoming election for mayor of Jerusalem:
"Overused, overquoted, and overanalyzed, Yehuda Amichai's poem 'Mayor' has become a familiar cliché in Israel: 'It's sad,/To be the Mayor of Jerusalem./It is terrible,/How can any man be the mayor of a city like that?' Overused -- but evidently not intimidating enough. As sad and terrible as the job may be, the list of men who want to be the city's new mayor come Nov. 11 is growing by the day.
"There's Meir Porush, a Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) who hopes to repeat the success of the current mayor, the first Haredi to hold the office. There's Nir Barkat, a secular high-tech millionaire entrepreneur. There's Arcady Gaydamak, a flamboyant Russian-born populist billionaire. And now, there's Aryeh Deri -- a Sephardic Haredi -- a political meteor of the 1990s, investigated and convicted for bribery in one of the most controversial trials the country ever saw, well-known for his reformist spirit and brilliance. Deri will be able to run only if the court decides that he is eligible.
"All the candidates share one goal: to save Jerusalem. But they don't agree about what they're saving it from. Barkat wants to 'save' Jerusalem from Haredi expansion. Porush would like to save it from a return to secular rule. Deri wants to save the Haredi community from Porush, who is perceived as 'too Haredi' to be electable. The Russian billionaire's motivations aren't exactly clear, and he might quit the race, but for the moment his main cause seems to be saving Jerusalem's sports teams.
"And, of course, they all want to save Jerusalem from the Arab Palestinians -- about one-third of Jerusalem's population -- who traditionally don't vote in elections because they don't recognize Israel's sovereignty. This year, however, they may reconsider this Palestinian tradition: For the first time, a Palestinian Jerusalemite has announced that he is definitely going to run. (Previous potential Arab candidates didn't make it to the polls under pressure from the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank.)
"Jerusalem is a city in perpetual crisis. Israelis overwhelmingly say they oppose its division; Palestinians overwhelmingly demand it be the capital of their future state.
"So, saving it will not be the easiest of tasks. Jews have been leaving Jerusalem in large numbers in recent years: Fourteen thousand per year left between 1990 and 1994, 16,000 between 1995-2004, 17,400 between 2005-07. Meanwhile, the number of people moving to the city of nearly 750,000 was much smaller. Forty-three percent of those who left said they could find no work in Jerusalem. Indeed, the more that East Jerusalem Palestinians and West Jerusalem ultra-Orthodox make up the vast majority of Jerusalemites, the more the city faces difficulties sustaining a viable economy. ...
"The men who would be mayor have two very different attitudes toward poverty: The ultra-Orthodox candidates say their community is in greater need. Nir Barkat will emphasize his economic background. He will argue, not without merit, that the Orthodox are the problem, not the solution, for Jerusalem. Haredi men, who study the Torah instead of working, and Palestinian women, who stay home because of Arab traditionalism, are largely responsible for the city's low rate of work participation.
"Jerusalem is internationally important, but it is becoming more fractured, more prone to being torn apart by interest groups. The political choices are as numerous as the problems. But in the end, the outcome of this year's mayoral race -- arguably one of the most fascinating in the city's 3,000-year history -- will be determined by local trends, influential rabbis and the power of one faction to cancel out another. The next mayor will probably be the candidate who most successfully takes advantage of Jerusalemites' fears."
Ahmadinejad Continues to Spew Hate and the World Simply Applauds
Scholar Anne Bayefsky writes in National Review (www.nationalreview.com) on Sept. 24, about cheers for anti-Semitism at the United Nations:
"Tuesday, September 23, 2008, will go down in history as the day the United Nations General Assembly provided a platform for a head of state to spew unadulterated, vile anti-Semitism -- and the assembled nations of the world clapped.
"The United Nations has become the largest global purveyor of anti-Semitism in the world today. In the full knowledge that the president of Iran denies the Holocaust and advocates the destruction of the U.N. member state of Israel, the U.N. invited him to mount the dais and gave him a megaphone. Dictators have pontificated at the General Assembly before. Terrorists like Yasser Arafat have come and gone. But in the halls of an organization founded on the ashes of the victims of the Holocaust, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's effort to promote another Holocaust from center stage stands alone.
"While the United States and Israel left their ambassadorial seats empty, here is the Jew-hatred greeted by enthusiasm at today's U.N.: 'The dignity, integrity and rights of the European and American people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are miniscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the U.S. in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner. It is deeply disastrous to witness that some presidential or premier nominees in some big countries have to visit these people, take part in their gatherings, swear their allegiance and commitment to their interests in order to attain financial or media support ... This means that the great people of America and various nations of Europe need to obey the demands and wishes of a small number of acquisitive and invasive people. These nations are spending their dignity and resources on the crimes and occupations and the threats of the Zionist network against their will. Today, the Zionist regime is on a definite slope to collapse, and there is no way for it to get out of the cesspool created by itself and its supporters.'
"Anti-Semitism often masquerades as anti-Zionism -- a denial of the right to self-determination only for Jews. At least Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did us the service of making the undeniable connection between the two.
"Disputing the legitimacy of the State of Israel, he said: 'In Palestine, 60 years of carnage and invasion is still ongoing at the hands of some criminal and occupying Zionists. They have forged a regime through collecting people from various parts of the world and bringing them to other people's land by displacing, detaining and killing the true owners of that land. The Security Council cannot do anything and sometimes, under pressure from few bullying powers, even paves the way for supporting these Zionist murderers.'
"In its entire history, the U.N. General Assembly has never adopted a resolution dedicated to denouncing and combating the scourge of anti-Semitism in all its forms. Now we know why. Less than half of U.N. members are fully free democracies, and among them there is no consensus that discrimination and demonization of Jews and the Jewish state is wrong.
"On the contrary, at the U.N. vicious anti-Semitism is met by a round of applause."