The Big Felafel

Jerusalem Mayoral Debate or Comedy Night

Did you catch the Jerusalem mayoral debate held Saturday night at the Great Synagogue? Well I was there but it really should have been advertised as more of a comedy showcase then a political debate.

The night’s follies began with an under-prepared Great Synagogue staff unable to accommodate over a thousand Anglos that showed up to the event. While everyone was trying to push their way in to the building, I noticed that the security went to lock all the doors…that seemed safe…

Then after they opened one door they refused to let the press in. That’s right, they refused the reporter from The Economist, BBC, and even the photographer from The Jerusalem Post (who hosted the event).

Of course the staff and security claimed they were over capacity and couldn’t let anyone else in. Did I mention that Nir Barkat and his entourage hadn’t arrived yet. Were they not going to let him in to his own debate? And, with peop le already sitting on the staircases and standing in open places, the synagogue was clearly already breaking the law, so their point was baseless.

Ok, so the mob scene was the first act in the comedy showcase but the best was yet to come. Continue reading this entry »


Indecision 2008 Jerusalem: Meet the Candidates

Shira’s coverage of Indecision 2008 Jerusalem continues…

Lets take a look at the candidates, but not just their billboards, which would have you believe that Porush is cute and cuddly, Barkat is a strong force, and Gaydamak “can’t speak Hebrew” (according to the vandalized slogan). Alright, so the last billboard isn’t so wrong..

Before you go to the polls, learn about each candidate’s past, see what they’ve done (or haven’t done) for Jerusalem lately, decide who best represents your values. and, if you still can’t make up your mind, find them on Facebook and see if you would friend them.

Did you know that each resident actually gets two votes in a local election?

1. a vote for mayor

2. a vote for the municipality council (by party)

While the two highest elected municipality positions, mayor and deputy mayor, are paid positions, the other 29 seats on the council are volunteer positions. The mayor’s salary comes from your taxes, has his/her hand most tightly around the budget and has the best chance of passing his/her policy decisions. But the council members are either a part of the mayor’s coalition, thus helping the mayor pass policy and allocate money, or they are a part of the opposition, with a unique opportunity of exposing the improprieties of the coalition to the public and leading a strong opposing stance to the ruling force. So both votes are extremely important.

Vote#1: Mayor of Jerusalem

Nir Barkat (Jerusalem Will Succeed)
Nir Barkat is the obvious choice for a normal mayor with a head for business and success. I admit that if cookie monster were running against Barkat, I’d vote cookie monster but I think he is the lesser of all evils and a vote for Barkat is going to support the only hope for getting Jerusalem out of its 10 year Olmert-Lupo rut. I want to make clear that Nir Barkat has proven through his actions to be an unreliable, a flip-flopper on the issues, and has been sleeping with the religious and Haredi right for 5 years and throughout his campaign. But if you’re into that kind of thing, then maybe he’s your man. So look into him, meet him, ask questions and decide for yourself.

Dan Birron (Aleh Yarok- Green Leaf)
I really do want to believe that a stoner can be better for Jerusalem than any of the other politicians, but I am afraid of how much of a toll the munchies might have on our city budget. Seriously, if I wasn’t overly concerned about splitting the secular vote, I might consider this guy. He is much more serious about separating religion and city politics, equality and pluralism than Barkat but his campaign is much less known. They want a clean city, a multi-cultural city and freedom. Their whole website is videos of Dan Birron talking out his points. It’s actually pretty cool. Check out his english video .

Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism)
Despite the cute cartoon imagry, Porush is actually a really seriously scary Haredi candidate who will do more of the same, if not worse, for Jerusalem than Lupoliansky. If you go to their website, you can see his real picture- he isn’t actually a fluffy cartoon cross between santa, a rabbi and Dumbledore. He’s old and he looks about as in touch with your average Jerusalem citizen living in 2008 as Moshe Rabeinu himself might be.

Arkadi Gaydamak (Social Justice) with Deputy Yigal Amedi
Please, please, please, if you have a shred of sense in your head, do not vote for Gaydamak. He is a wanted man, he is as corrupt a they come, he owns the local violent and racist soccer team and his Hebrew is worse than yours. I believe that Gaydamak poses more of a threat to Jerusalem than Iran.

Further reading: A brief JPost article on all 4 candidates

Vote #2 Municipality Council

(listed in order from love to hate)

HitorerutYerushalmim: This list combines my two favorite movements of the past few years (and you know how much I love a good social-political movement!)
(Wake Up) Jerusalem is a movement started by young Jerusalem activists who want to bring a new energy and a sense of responsible leadership to the city council. Yerushalmim is comprised of social change organizational leaders who want to get inside the political system to make the important changes from within. Headed by Rahel Azaria, director of social change organizations and a young, religious mother, and Ofer Berkovich, a young, charismatic community activist, their target audiences include: religious and secular, young families, soldiers, high school students, university students and activists of all ages who want to see a pluralist Jerusalem.

These are the people that I want to see on the coalition or opposition, fighting for fair allocation of the city budget and social justice in Jerusalem. I admit that I wish they would take a firm, open stance supporting Jerusalem Pride, an issue that in my opinion encompasses the fight for social justice and civil rights in Jerusalem. But aside from that they have my vote to represent me and my voice in the city.

Meretz Despite their scary and slightly offensive posters earlier in their campaign, Meretz has been the people’s strongest voice over the past 5 years while Jerusalem was flushed down the crapper by Lupoliansky and his boys. Defending cultural institutions and protesting awful traffic and building plans proposed and activated by the Haredi coalition, and being the only vocal support for Jerusalem Pride, Meretz always has mad respect from me.

The New Black Panthers Headed by Ayala Marziano-Sabag, they want to get onto the city council to evenly distribute the city budget to help weaker and weakened neighborhoods. Check out their history in Hebrew on Wikipedia.

Or – Hayerukim (Green Party)– A new combination headed by Gregory Tamar from the Or Party and 2 Green Party activists: Dalia Zomer and Gidon Shathel. Or’s campaign takes a hard stance against Haredi corruption of Jerusalem and for democracy. I couldn’t find Or’s website, which is not a good sign for them…

Lma’an Yerushalem– For Jerusalem, headed by Meir Turgeman, this party is a big mystery to me. I have seen some posters and heard of a few people voting for him but I couldn’t find a website or more information.

Likud– Using the face of Bibi Netanyahu on their ads (please note, the MK is not running on the list from what I can tell), Likud tries to make a play for Jerusalem City Council. At the top of their list, Elisha Peleg, lawyer and city councilman in the 90s and Dr. Vladimir Shaklar, local leader in city sports commission and Beitar Jerusalem.

MAFDAL and Ichud Haleumi– the popular duo is back! At the head of the list, David Haderi, previous city councilman and Director of Emunah. Interestingly, their 3rd seat goes to a woman, Edna Friedman- a newcomer to the list, but MAFDAL Jerusalem chairwoman and Jerusalem Emuna Boardmember.

Shas– You know the drill- it hasn’t changed. Haredi-Sepharadi. They support Porush as mayor.

Please note that in addition to these lists are the parties listed in #1, who aside from running Mayoral candidates are running for council seats as well.

Happy Voting! Feel free to send comments with questions– especially if you want to get involved and we’ll see what we can do!

Indecision 2008 – Jerusalem Style

Guest post by Shira


Are you eligible to vote? Where do you go to vote? Who is the best mayoral candidate choice for you?  When will Porush’s character finally be debuting on South Park? Stay tuned to The Big Felafel for Shira’s exclusive Jerusalem municipal election coverage.

With the November 11, 2008 Jerusalem Municipality elections fast approaching, it’ s time for you to get schooled in local political election jargon and regulations. So I will hold your hand, answer your questions and yes, tell you who to vote for on 11.11.

If we have learned anything from the last 2 American oh-shit-Florida-what-the-hell-happened elections, it’s that the price for mistakes in the voting booth is very, very high. This year is a critical vote in Jerusalem, since whoever gets elected will allocate the budget, construct unnecessary trains, close secular schools and build bridges leading nowhere, thus affecting your daily life.

In the last election, 180,000 Jerusalemites voted, which means that around 300,000 Jerusalem residents didn’t come out and vote.  The split between the winning Mayoral candidate and the runner up was only 15,000 votes! We thank you, 300,000 lazy, apathetic, irresponsible Jerusalemites for all of the lovely congested, construction filled streets of our city center, for the 2 million shekel bridge opening ceremony, and for the expensive french lighting system on last year’s municipality sukkah!

There is no denying that Jerusalem has its challenges but this election, with its multiple candidates and multiple parties, does not have to be one of them– in fact, it could be our way to a cleaner, younger, pluralistic future for Jerusalem. So lets see how we can break it down…

Today: Check that you are a Jerusalem resident. All citizens, 17 years and older can vote, but to vote in the Jerusalem municipal election you must be registered as a resident of the city on your teudat zehut (Israeli ID card). So make sure that your address is a Jerusalem address on your tz. If not, have it changed at misrad hapnim. I believe you have until 21 days before the election to change your address on your teudat zehut.

Soon, the election booklets will be sent to the address on your teudat zehut and that address determines where you go to place your vote. If you don’t get your election booklet in your mailbox(as listed on your tz), or have other questions about where you go to cast your vote, you can call the misrad hapnim hotline: 1800-300-059.

You can watch an awful Hebrew video about this process with English subtitles here. it is not informative at all, but it is mildly humorous.

Stay tuned for my next post about the candidates, parties and lists so you’ll know what your options are when you’re all alone in that voting booth. If you have questions, post them and I’ll do my best to find the answer in time for us to vote to safeguard the future of a diverse, productive and prosperous Jerusalem!

Hi, is Zionism there?

Update: This post got picked up by Arutz Sheva

Where has the Zionism gone? I guess when rockets explode they bring with them a big bang to our idealism. Forget Gaydamak’s efforts to ship kids from Sderot to Jerusalem, now there is a new organization, Save Israel’s Children, transporting kids all the way to America.

While I commend the Americans who have opened their homes to the victims of Sderot I can’t help but ask the question, why? Why is this the solution? My fear is this attitude to solving problems will soon leave us without a state. If the rockets fire begins to hit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem will we move everyone to a safer location like America or Europe?

In fact isn’t this playing exactly into the terrorists’ hands? Continue reading this entry »