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Jerusalem Life

| The Ultimate Guide To Jerusalem Mayoral Elections: Candidate Bios, Pros and Cons

Zev Stub    
Monday, 22 October 2:23 PM
30% of the city's residents have yet to decide who to vote for!

Zevik Aviner, founder of the Yerushalmim and Yerushalmiot Facebook group and one of Jerusalem's most influential social media superstars, has written a series of short chapter posts to help us make a wise choice. 

This post was excerpted and translated from his amazing original Hebrew writing with permission. 

Who to Vote For?

Will candidate differences in political agenda or religious affiliation affect city management? How will they actually cope with pressures and conflicts? Here are bios, pros and cons of each candidate.

ZE’EV ELKIN Platform

Served as Deputy Foreign Minister. A member of the Political-Security Cabinet and a member of the Knesset on behalf of the Likud party. Former Minister of Immigration and Absorption, chairman of the Likud faction, chairman of the House Committee, chairman of the coalition, and chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, Heritage and Environmental Protection. A candidate for mayor of Jerusalem for the Yerushalayim Tatzliach ("Jerusalem Will Succeed”) faction, set up by Mayor Nir Barkat.

Passed a government decision of $2 billion for the development of East Jerusalem, both infrastructure, tourism and education.

In addition, he transferred the Jubilee plan to 850 million dollars for strategic business development in the city, of which about 100 million aid to businesses affected by the security situation. (Wikipedia:

Election Assessment

Main supporters: 
Traditional, religious, ultra-Orthodox, agreements with the extremist Jerusalem Faction and perhaps with Gur.

Elkin is undoubtedly very experienced in the corridors of the Knesset and the government. He is knowledgeable and experienced in management and in politics.
He is an excellent strategist with high analytical ability with a short learning curve.
From a budgetary perspective, if there are no budget disputes on the backs of the Jerusalemites, there may be more money and no strikes. (Bibi)

Elkin is supported by Netanyahu. Since some say that Benjamin Netanyahu is responsible for the construction freeze in the city, the question is whether Elkin could throw off that pressure from, of all people, the Prime Minister.

Elkin knows Jerusalem, but on a large scale.  He does not know the small, everyday Jerusalem -  the different neighborhoods, the different shades and the specific issues of the city.

A note on East Jerusalem: Elkin claimed that as mayor he would not promote the plan for separating Arab neighborhoods beyond what the Separation Wall has done. This is because, morally speaking,  how could it be that a mayor approaches the government, requesting some neighborhoods be removed from a city? 


Founder of the Hitorerut (“Awakening”) movement in Jerusalem, and its chairman for the last decade. A member of the city council in 2008-2011 and Deputy Mayor in charge of areas of economic development, culture and city center 2013-2017.

Raised in Jerusalem, Berkovitch is married to Dina and is father to Ariel and Yiftach. He has a BA in Economics and Political Science from the Hebrew University.

He participated in the growth of high-tech and technology companies in Jerusalem, and  promoted the cultural events initiative in the Mahane Yehuda market. He saved the Smadar Cinema and initiated the subsidized summer camps in the kindergartens in August. (Https://

Election Assessment
Main supporters: Secular, traditional, national religious.

As Deputy Mayor and a member of the city council, Ofer Berkovitch is well acquainted with Jerusalem and its problems - the people, the diverse populations, the various parts of the city.

His main accomplishment is establishing Hitorerut - a young secular movement that in time became a pluralistic movement which holds a very diverse list. He boasts the impressive ability to bring together hundreds of activists and thousands of supporters, forming and managing a social movement. Historically, there probably has not been a greater local and non-party activist movement in Jerusalem.

Ofer has no political affiliation, which can be positive in that he answers to no one, but also means there are no politicians who are vying for him.

Secular-Haredi Relations: Ofer will not open the city center on Shabbat.

The main allegation against Ofer is that he has zero managerial experience, specifically that he has never managed a significant budget. He also has no experience working with the Knesset.

He has no particular achievements from serving as Deputy Mayor nor as a municipal council member.  Barkat claimed that in his last term, Ofer did not have good relations with the professional echelon. 


Married, father of 4 and grandfather of 7, lives in Jerusalem's Rehavia neighborhood for the past 5 years. He moved to the city five years ago to run for mayor. While he lost to Barkat, he remained, holding the city’s Community Administrative portfolio.

In his public past, Leon served as Director-General of the Prime Minister's Office in the first Netanyahu government, chairman of the Jerusalem Development Authority for six years, and as chairman of the Israel Railways.

In his past business, Leon founded the accounting firm Leon Orlitzky, which is now ranked in the top ten in Israel and has about 300 members. (

Election Assessment

Main supporters:
Degel Hatorah (the Lithuanian stream of ultra-Orthodox Judaism), Shas (Sephardi ultra-Orthodox/traditional), national religious, traditional and secular in several neighborhoods in the city.

Vast management and administration experience.  Moshe Leon is a leader who has served in high-level managerial positions throughout his life (see bio).

Since a large portion of his voters will likely be rabbi-instructed, one wonders if his post-election focus will be tainted in their favor. We are talking about President of the Council of Torah Sages of the Shas Party, HaRav Shalom Cohen (Deri), and Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a prominent spiritual leader in the ultra-Orthodox Degel Hatorah party. Gafni)

More info: Leon, who was suspected of committing public corruption and integrity offenses, as well as tax offenses, however, the police investigation two months ago concluded there was no basis for the accusations.


Deitsch is married to Shoshana, a father of six and grandfather of three, a resident of the Geula neighborhood. 

He served in the army and reserves for 14 years. (

Deitch holds the Planning and Construction portfolio, a vitally important facet of our city. He was one of the founders of the Har Homa neighborhood of Jerusalem in his previous position in the Housing Ministry. 

He took upon himself the project of "Ma'ar" (ultra-Orthodox business center), which is responsible for the rehabilitation and renovation of commercial areas in the neighborhoods of Geula, Bukharan, Kerem Avraham, Romema and the old neighborhoods. In 2018, its budget reached more than NIS 200 million.

Deitsch founded the KEMACH Fund - "Haredi Professional Advancement" - to promote study and employment in the ultra-Orthodox sector, which to date has benefited some 30,000 members of that sector.

Election Assessment

Main supporters: 
General Haredi, and specifically Agudath Israel (a Hasidic ultra-Orthodox organization).

Yossi has been working for 12 years in the city council and as deputy mayor. He is very connected to day-to-day Jerusalem, operating at eye-level with the heart of all residents. He always remembers where he came from, understanding the simple distresses and overall needs of the residents. He acts tirelessly and stands behind his word.

His municipality experience is extensive, especially in the field of housing and construction (see bio). 

His history in the city council proves he does not sign on disputes between sectors, but rather is a bridge among them. Therefore, it is possible that he will be able to lead to a significant change in secular-Haredi relations. (As an example, despite being Haredi, he supported not closing the First Station on Shabbat, in order to maintain the status quo for that sector.)

Is there a likelihood that Yossi will withdraw his candidacy and transfer support to Elkin?

Despite his positive history, will he really fight equally for secular rights of the city's residents? Will heavy pressures in the form of pashkvilim (extremist protest posters common in some Haredi neighborhoods), harassment and boycotts of extremist ultra-Orthodox factions affect him?

A note on East Jerusalem: Deitsch signed an agreement (what agreement?) with Aryeh King which may have significant implications on East Jerusalem residents (but maybe this is about the Jewish east Jerusalem residents?.

In Conclusion

We are privileged to live in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, a capital of complexity with the challenge of peace among factions. So, think big, about Jerusalem as a whole, our residents, our special and complex economic and social situation. Think about who can bring some social and economic peace, and will lead us to a more colorful city. Someone who will see us, the residents - all of us. And remember: The mayor is a public servant.


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