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May 16, 2003 - Image 34

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-05-16

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

OTHER VIEWS

Dear Mayor, Take Note

RUBINSTEIN from page 32

Jerusalem

18

arly next month, residents of
tional and health gaps between its var-
Jerusalem will elect the city's
ious components, including gaps
new mayor. According to the
between Arabs and Jews. Some of its
latest polls, millionaire busi-
achievements are unprecedented:
nessman Nir Barkat, a 43-year-old
Israeli Arabs have a higher life
political unknown and electoral virgin,
expectancy than European whites.
is the front-runner. But he now faces a
Its democracy functions, inside
new challenge due to recent develop-
Israel proper, in times of great nation-
ments in connection with Jerusalem's
al emergency; it boasts of the most
large, ultra-Orthodox community.
activist and interventionist courts in
In late April, ending weeks of specu-
the world, who do not fear to tread
lation, after initially saying he would
where other courts shun intervention;
not run in the election, the city's act-
it has maintained freedom of the press
ing mayor, Uri Lupolianski,
in time of war; it stands out as a sin-
announced his candidacy. An ultra-•
gular democratic, First World island
Orthodox 51-year-old father of 12,
in a sea of Arab and Muslim poverty
Lupolianski threw his hat into the ring
and backwardness.
saying he had finally received his
In short, it deserves support and its
rabbi's blessing. Given the presence
existence and prosperity are in
now of an ultra-Orthodox candidate
American and Western interests. But it
who will likely receive virtually all the
is also incumbent upon it to comply
votes of his community, Barkat's lead
with American and Western interests
in the polls may not hold on election
and rules of behavior — and these rules
day.
of behavior require total acceptance of
Traditionally, at their rabbis' urging,
the road map and all that this implies,
Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox residents
including a freeze on settlements. ❑
vote in a far greater proportion than
non-religious Jerusalemites whose apa-
thy has previously hurt candidates who
don't have the ultra-Orthodox support.
The Jerusalem election is taking place
JOEL from page 33
in early June because Ehud Olmert,
is 3000 years of history and about
who was mayor since 1993, stepped
100 miles.
down in February after he was elected
This is their story. If they choose to
to the Knesset and became a cabinet
embrace it, to make it their own, they
minister in the Sharon government.
will be given responsibilities, encum-
A Jerusalem mayor faces unique
bered by hard work, but rewarded
challenges if, for no other reason, than
magnificently, by being given the
that for billions of Jews, Christians
opportunity to make the ordinary
and Muslims around the world,
noble, perpetuating a people in a
Jerusalem is sacred. It exists powerfully
unique partnership with God.
in their religious . beliefs, spiritual imag-
I believe the times are on our side.
inations and conflicting claims on the
The sense of isolation, loneliness,
Holy City. For these people,
siege and purposelessness that con-
Jerusalem's ancient history is vital stuff.
fronts young people, even as their cul-
For the city's residents, the past is all
ture is being attacked by extremists
well and good but it's the here and
willing to die to tear us down, simply
now they want the new mayor to
wrestle with. -
points up young people's yearning for
a life that makes sense.
Given the complexity of Jerusalem,
Everything I hear and see reinforces
the new mayor will need all the help
my certainty that young people every-
he can get. To that end, I've prepared
where hunger for community, for
the following "To Do" list to keep the
mayor on track.
meaning and for pride. This is pre-
cisely what we offer: This is Jewish
True, it's also a bit of a personal
Renaissance. Offer that product well,
wish list, but one with the better
and the people come and partake.
interests of the capital in mind.
We are taught that Solomon, wisest
These 25 suggestions are just for
of kings, authored Ecclesiastes. It is
starters. There are lots more where
among the most meaningful expres-
Robert Sarner is a senior reporter/editor
sions of my soul. He concludes, his
on Israel's only English-language daily
work, with these words: "As the end
TV show. Before moving to Israel in
of the matter, when all is said and
1990,
he was a writer and magazine
done, be in awe of God, and perform
editor
in Paris and Toronto. His e-mail
God's mitzvot, for that is the chal-
address is rsarner@netvision.net.il
lenge of our humanity." ❑

5/16
2003

they came from.
are scandalously appalling.
• Downtown down for the
• Sleaze alert! A super
count? Bring the city center
cleanup of the widespread
back to life. It desperately
corruption and waste at City
needs animation, commerce
Hall is long overdue. No
and a sense of style. Only
need to say more.
major innovation will do the
• Color our city. Beautify
trick.
the urban landscape with
R OBERT
• Heavy breathing. Time to
public art, murals, posters,
S ARNER
tackle Jerusalem's sadly over-
sculptures, etc., and in the
Sp ecial
looked scourge of air pollution.
process support local artists.
Co mmentaiy
And while you're at it, why not
• Pull out the stops. Apply
attack noise pollution, too?
heavy pressure on the gov-
• Urban refuge. Parks don't add to
ernment and Knesset to finally make
the city coffers but they sure make life
a high-speed train connection
better. Jerusalem is sorely lacking in
between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and
green places offering solace from traf-
Ben-Gurion Airport a national prior-
fic, concrete and stone.
ity.
• The other side of town. Providing
• Friendly wheels. For reasons both
decent services (including building
of recreation and of alternative trans-
permits) and improving the long-neg-
portation, encourage city cyclists with
lected infrastructure of Arab neighbor-
a network of bike paths and special
hoods will not turn its residents into
lanes reserved for bicycles.
Zionists but will help ease tensions in
• The call of the Zamboni. If
the city.
Metulla on the northern border can
• Open for business A no-brainer.
host one, why can't Jerusalem have its
Without attracting investment, stimu-
own ice skating/hockey rink? Okay, I
lating the local economy and creating
admit my personal preference is
jobs, the city is doomed.
showing here.
• Oasis in the urban desert. A land-
• Fare play. To reduce the number
locked metropolis needs the soothing
of cars in Jerusalem, cancel bus fares.
effect that only water can bring.
The dividends from less traffic will
Fountains are the perfect solution, the
far outweigh the costs.
bigger the better to make them also
• Off the chest. Israelis are nothing
attractive landmarks and meeting places.
if not opinionated. A Speakers'
• Taking to the streets. Build on a
Corner, modeled on the one in
proven precedent as reflected in the
London, would be perfect for people
appeal of the Ben Yehuda, Yoel
to air their views in a downtown park.
Solomon and Yemin Moshe pedestrian
• Feet first. Return the sidewalks to
areas. Convert more streets for exclu-
what they were intended for, namely
sive use of people just on two feet.
pedestrians instead of parked cars.
• Down and dirty. The city seems a
• Making a splash. The city's pre-
perpetual mess, and that's when the
cious few swimming pools are all
garbage collectors aren't on strike. Beef guilty of shameless price gouging. If
up the sanitation services and start
we can't have a beach, at least build
issuing fines to the growing number
affordable alternatives.
of dog owners who don't clean up
• The Jerusalem Forest. Save what's
after their pets.
left of it.
• Room to move. Create more pub-
• Get out there and mix. As mayor,
lic squares for major events and to
make contact with the people, get to
help break up the density of the city.
know the city and its residents inti-
• Tales of Talpiot. This semi-industrial
mately. Be a mentsh, a character who
quarter is a terrible eyesore and a fairly
inspires.
dysfimctional one at that. A serious re-
• Lighten up. Let your imagination
think and major overhaul are in order.
run wild. Introduce a sense of fun,
• No Parking. Underground multi-
humor and playfulness to life in the
level parking garages are needed
city that takes itself far too seriously.
urgently throughout the city (includ-
A tall order? Yes, but nothing that
ing next to Teddy Stadium).
good creative thinking, effective lob-
• Ouch! Outrageously high local
bying, fund-raising, political coercion
taxes (arnona) are making living in
and hard work can't solve.
Jerusalem increasingly prohibitive,
No one said governing Jerusalem
contributing to the exodus of many
was going
oina b to be a cakewalk. Getting
young residents from the city.
elected was the easy part. Proving you
• Learning the hard way. The edu-
deserved the job is much tougher.
cation facilities and class sizes in local
Wishing you lots of success. For fur-
schools (especially the secular ones)
ther input, feel free to contact me. ❑

34

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