Breaking News

In Jerusalem not even mayoral candidates get to cut the line

Loading...
Loading...

Jerusalem's mayoral candidates vote and campaign across the city.
By Gil Hoffman
Jerusalem mayoral candidate Moshe Lion arrived at the capital’s 160-year-old Tehilla-Evelina de Rothschild Secondary School on Ussishkin Street hoping to vote quickly, talk to the press, and get back on the campaign trail.

But Lion had no such luck. After giving a couple interviews, he went to cast his ballot and got told by those in line: “Wait your turn. You are no different than any of the rest of us.”So Lion waited for an English-speaking elderly couple to vote, followed by a bearded man who made a point of dramatically showing the 20 photographers waiting to take pictures of Lion that he had cast a ballot for Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin.While Lion was waiting and looking bored, a reporter told him: “Don’t worry! The same thing happened to Donald Trump!” Lion regained color in his tired face and excitedly responded “Really? There is more to that comparison.” But then the reporter said no, and Lion returned to waiting in frustration.

A 20-minute drive from there, the Beit Hanina school in the upscale Arab neighborhood of the same name looked abandoned. There were no classes on Tuesday due to the election, but police were posted outside to protect anyone who dared break the boycott on voting.

Inside the four-story school there were only polling station officials, who nervously answered calls from the Interior Ministry asking how many people had voted. “Zero,” the head of a polling station answered, more than five hours after her station opened.

While other polling stations were full of campaign posters, and volunteers from parties accosting every potential voter, the Beit Hanina school was just as clean as it was empty.The fatwa (Muslim religious ruling) issued by the Council of Jerusalem Sheikhs, led by al-Aqsa Mosque sheikh Akram Sabri, forbidding Arabs from voting appeared to have impacted a sizeable portion of the 180,000 eligible voters in the Arab sector.

As the clock approached 1 p.m., two voters finally came to cast ballots: One was an Arab who came to support Ramadan Dabash’s Jerusalem My City party, and the other an observant Jew wearing a Breslav Hasid style kippa. Both declined to pose for a photograph.

After mayoral candidate Ofer Berkovitch voted at a polling station in the city center, foreign correspondents asked him what he thought of the Arab boycott of the race.

“In a democracy you should act and you should vote,” Berkovitch said. “I want all citizens to be a part of the city. Whether or not they vote, I will work for these citizens also. I am going to push forward services to east Jerusalem, to invest much more there and to enforce the law. We are going to hold and control all of Jerusalem for all the citizens of Jerusalem.”

Across town, in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood, the same school was visited by mayoral candidates Ze’ev Elkin and Yossi Daitch. The two had also seen each other hours earlier when they both went to pray at the Western Wall. Elkin admitted to being star-struck by the Wall.

“I first saw a story about the Wall when I was 14 where I grew up in Kharkov (currently in Ukraine, then in the USSR),” Elkin recalled. “Who knew then that I would one day come to the Wall as a cabinet minister and a candidate for mayor of Jerusalem?

Join Geezgo for free. Use Geezgo's end-to-end encrypted Chat with your Closenets (friends, relatives, colleague etc) in personalized ways.>>

Loading...

No comments

Loading...