Haredim protest in Jerusalem
Photo: Pini Rosen
Photo: Uriel Hershko
Lupolianski clashes with Barkat
Photo: Uriel Hershko

Jerusalem council member: Seculars only have child and dog

Mayoral race heating up as council meeting on haredi kindergarten generates catcalls, comparison to Nazis

The question whether or not one child and a dog are worth more than 10 children ignited a heated argument in a Jerusalem council meeting Thursday evening. The topics thrown around during the argument included army service and Nazi Germany, and it all began because of a kindergarten.


Jerusalem city council meetings are known for their temper, but with the mayoral elections coming up, it seems like the boiling point is getting closer by the day.


In recent years, some secular residents of Jerusalem have been arriving at the meetings in a bid to have their complaints heard. On Thursday, the secular residents of the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood came to protest the plan to place several caravans which would be used as a kindergarten for ultra-Orthodox children. According to local residents, this is an attempt by the haredi residents to take over their secular neighborhood.


This time the members of the religious coalition in city hall foresaw the future and filled most of the seats in the meeting hall with their supporters. Dozens of Kiryat Yovel residents were left out of the meeting and city hall.


When the discussion turned to the subject of the kindergarten, things started to get ugly. The most heated exchange took place between city councilman Rabbi Avraham Feiner of United Torah Judaism (UTJ) Pepe Alallo, chairman of the local Meretz faction.


'Shame on you, you anti-Semite' 

Rabbi Feiner called towards Alallo, "We, thank God, have 10-12 children. Where are these children supposed to study if not in their kindergartens? And you, what do you have? One child and a dog?"


Alallo responded by saying, "This dog pays more taxes than you do! Pays more property taxes than you!"


Feiner responded, "The question of a Jewish takeover was present in Nazi Germany as well, and that question is present here as well."


After Feiner made this comment, a commotion broke out in the meeting hall. Some members of the audience even tried to approach the different councilmen present but were held back, and were eventually escorted out by security.


"Shame on you, you anti-Semite, may your 10 children serve in the army like we did," cried out one of the secular members of the crowd.


The discussion itself was accompanied by catcalls from the audience, and as a result went on for a considerable time. All requests by the residents of Kiryat Yovel to cancel the planned kindergarten were rejected by council. In the last several weeks, ground work has begun in the location of the proposed kindergarten, and local residents have been attempting to stop the construction.


Who looks who in the eye?  

Another interesting clash occurred between secular mayoral candidate, Nir Barkat, and Mayor Uri Lupolianski, in regards to the construction of the "Arena", an all-purpose center for sports and culture, which has been delayed for a decade.


Barkat said to Lupolianski, "Despite your promises the project hasn't even broke ground and no bids regarding it were published. It seems that like most of your promises, this one was nothing more than an empty one. Why don't you tell the residents of this city the truth? Why won't you look them in the eye?"


Lupolianski responded by saying, "Unlike you, I do look people in the eye and say the truth as it is. You, on the other hand, just walk around telling everyone what they want to hear."


Elections are planned for November 11 and are shaping up to be very tempestuous. Just this week, remarks made by Mayoral candidate Arcadi Gaydamak stating that he would "die before approving a pride parade in Jerusalem" caused controversy.


פרסום ראשון: 08.30.08, 07:52
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