Taking Jerusalem for a ride
Hebrew media review

Taking Jerusalem for a ride

Papers Thursday are filled with enough toxic dirt, and just on the capital's mayoral race, that readers may want to invest in a hazmat suit

Nir Barkat is swamped by supporters as he arrives to claim victory in the Jerusalem mayoral race, early on October 23, 2013 (photo credit: Walla screenshot)
Nir Barkat is swamped by supporters as he arrives to claim victory in the Jerusalem mayoral race, early on October 23, 2013 (photo credit: Walla screenshot)

Two days after a local election that Israelis proved, with their own two feet, that they care little about, the press has decided to fill its front pages with the day-and-a-half-old results of those elections.

At least three of the papers are chiefly concerned with fallout from one very interesting race, the Jerusalem mayoral election, and all the backhanded deals that apparently came along with it.

Not so Yedioth Ahronoth, which leads off with about the most bland picture and headline combo possible: “The new mayors” is the headline for its story on the “young” generation of new city leaders, which is coupled with a grip-and-grin picture of about 20 people, maybe two of whom look under 40, smiling boringly at the camera.

The paper follows it up with a 12-page package recounting the races from Jerusalem to Sderot. In short, there were winners and losers. Some were happy, some were sad, and everybody has a lot of work to do.

But while Yedioth leads off with a cheery changing of the guard, the other papers are filled with enough toxic dirt that readers may want to invest in a hazmat suit just to pick up the editions.

Maariv leads off with the rift opening within the unnatural Shas-Beytenu alliance that backed Moshe Lion, leaving Avigdor Liberman more isolated than a settler at a BDS event. The paper reports that the Yisrael Beytenu head was blamed by Shas leader Aryeh Deri for the loss, by Likud for not delivering the goods and by reelected Mayor Nir Barkat for hooking up with Shas in the first place to try and defeat him.

“Liberman is not a straight shooter,” Barkat tells Maariv. “He’s a sly deal maker who wanted to turn me into a puppet and didn’t succeed. I could have made a deal and promoted Vladimir Sklar to head the East Jerusalem Development Corporation, as Liberman wanted, and I would have gotten wall-to-wall support. I refused. I took a risk and paid a not-small price.”

Israel Hayom, which has been less than muted over its support of Barkat, celebrates the victory with an interview with the great defender of Jerusalem himself. “To the question of whether he felt Deri and Liberman came to these elections to try and steal the city, Barkat answered: ‘Unfortunately yes. The biggest burden fell on Liberman’s shoulders. They came here with impure interests for Jerusalem. I felt I had to defend Jerusalem when somebody came to take the city for a ride.’”

Barkat may make himself out to look squeaky clean, but a story in Haaretz claims otherwise.

The paper reports that ultra-Orthodox dark horse candidate Chaim Epstein is claiming after the election that he was promised a plum job as vice mayor after doing yeoman’s work to split the Haredi vote and help Barkat, the secular candidate, retain his seat. While the Barkat camp officially denies the claim, a source within the campaign tells the paper that yes, “it’s reasonable that Epstein will be a deputy.”

Haaretz’s Yair Ettinger analyzes Shas’s no good, very bad day Tuesday, where the worst defeat wasn’t even failing to install the Lion King.

“While everybody is talking about Shas’s failure in Jerusalem, Deri’s worst defeat was in Elad. This small city east of Tel Aviv became the arena for a nationwide wrestling match between Mizrahi ultra-Orthodox Shas and the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox led by Yisrael Porush,” he writes. “Although Deri can expect a few stabs in the back from inside Shas, he’ll console himself by strengthening his hold on the party after having appointed his friend, Rabbi David Yosef, Ovadia’s son, as a member of its Council of Torah Sages.”

In Israel Hayom, Dror Eidar takes the party to task for using the recently deceased Ovadia Yosef for political gain.

“Were the rabbi still alive, he would choose to get involved in the political field. Now that he’s gone on to a better place, the attempt to attach him to political business is a detriment to his respect and to his people,” Eidar writes.

Cinema verite

All politics are local, but not all local news is politics. Maariv proves the point with a story pegged to today’s 10-shekel movie extravaganza, noting that residents of the Upper Galillee and other northern climes won’t be joining in the fun, since the north has no theaters. “Since I moved to Kiryat Shmona I forgot what a movie theater looks like,” one resident tells the paper. However, a theater exec tells Maariv that’s just the way the popcorn crumbles.

“There were theaters in the north, but there was no economic incentive to operate them,” the exec says. “I don’t know how to explain why theaters in the south are flowering and in the north they just aren’t. I can understand the pain of the northern residents, but theaters are like any other business. A theater is like a shoe store. If there are no buyers, it closes.”

Yedioth notes that even though flicks are just a dime-piece Thursday, buying online ups it to a princely NIS 14. And buying tickets for other events, like concerts or sporting matches, bring along fees of up to NIS 15 per ticket. However, the paper reports that a new bill will seek to slay the demon of service charges.

“When a customer decides to buy a ticket electronically, and doesn’t use a human representative, the price goes up for the consumer and the cost goes down for the company, since it saves on human resources. Despite that, many companies use service charges,” the bill reads.

Haaretz’s editorial, a day late to the party, bemoans the voter apathy present in Tuesday’s election:

“Voters can have a direct effect close to home, through their votes for mayor and the city council. In the absence of regional representation in the legislature, it is in the local arena where most of the contact between citizens and elected officials take place, and here there is a clear index for measuring for reward and punishment. It would seem to follow from this that voters would show more interest in the local elections than in the Knesset elections, but in fact the reverse is true. Voter turnout for municipal elections is even lower than the disappointing figures for the national vote. That is not a celebration of democracy; it’s a celebration of indifference.”

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