Until now, I have refrained from speaking about the Jerusalem mayoral elections because I don’t live and vote there. Now that the elections are over, it is clear that by electing Nir Barkat, Jerusalem has chosen a new direction, and with good reason.
Over the years, Jerusalem has become a poor, unattractive, near-unlivable city, that has served as more of a tourist attraction than the capital of the Jewish state. Traffic is horrendous, cultural events are rare, rents have risen sky-high, taxpayers are leaving the city in droves, and a non-contributing sector of Israeli society has been slowly, but surely, taking over.
Jerusalem needs to draw business, arts, students. Jerusalem needs a real nightlife, and a real restaurant scene. Jerusalem needs vibrant neighborhoods all over, not just two or three small popular areas. Jerusalem needs to be livable for its residents, for Israeli citizens.
It does not need to draw more and more tourists. It does not need to have apartments bought up by rich foreigners, only to be left vacant for most of the year. On that issue, Jerusalem should institute a much higher property tax on apartments owned by non-citizens, and on apartments that are vacant for the majority of the time.
A sectoral candidate cannot mend this city. I hope Nir Barkat will succeed in improving Jerusalem, in making Jerusalem a real city again, and returning Jerusalem to its proper status as the living capital of Israel.
על חומותייך, עיר דוד, הפקדתי שומרים – עשו את עבודתכם נאמנה