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Hanoch Daum Photo: Rafi Deloya
Hanoch Daum Photo: Rafi Deloya

Jerusalem needs Deri

Why don't we let Jerusalemites decide whether Aryeh Deri is fit to be mayor?

Hanoch Daum
Published: 09.14.08, 11:26 / Israel Opinion

The truth is that I intended to dedicate this column to Bibi's wife, Sarah Netanyahu, who as opposed to Nava Barak or Aliza Olmert, who enjoy great media sympathy, is always slammed.


However, while writing my piece I heard on the radio some annoying representative of the Movement for Quality Government in Israel. He spoke about Aryeh Deri with deep disgust, which made me furious. More than this speaker represented the rule of law, he represented himself and his friends, the secular Ashkenazim, who find it difficult to accept a person who's not one of their own.


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Aryeh Deri was convicted of bribery offences. That much is true. Other public figures may have taken much more than Deri and never made it to trial, but all this is in the past. Now we are dealing with a different matter – the ability to forgive. We are a public that must learn how to forgive and weigh things in a to-the-point manner. We should be asking ourselves whether Deri is right for the job of Jerusalem mayor or not; without settling scores or basing the decision on inappropriate motives.


Forget for a moment about the fact that Deri is the best thing that may happen to Jerusalem. Forget the fact that we are talking about a highly talented man who already paid his debt to society. Forget the fact that he is a man who greatly matured; a man who constitutes a bridge between the religious and secular.


In addition, forget about the fact that should Deri not run for mayor, the candidate who will win the elections is Nir Barkat, an anemic man who lacks charisma. He presents himself as a successful businessman, but in my view he simply made one good deal in his life and became a billionaire, and ever since then he has been looking for work.


But forget about all this and try to answer the following simple question: Why not let Jerusalem residents decide? Why shouldn't we let the intelligent residents of Jerusalem decide on their own whether they have a problem with Deri, or perhaps he of all people gives them hope?


We should hope that Aryeh Deri, as opposed to Shaul Mofaz and Sarah Netanyahu, will be treated fairly by the media. Because if this happens, and if the media judges him based on his abilities, and should the media refrain from exerting too much pressure on the High Court of Justice, Jerusalem will gain an excellent mayor for many years to come. Let's hope it happens.


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