JERUSALEM (RNS) – A young Israeli businessman, Guyoz Golan, has just moved to Tel Aviv, but as a registered voter in Jerusalem plans to visit the city on Tuesday to vote for Ofer Berkovitch, a secular candidate, and 13 electoral mayors.
"Like everything else in Jerusalem, these elections reflect the clash between secular and ultra-Orthodox," said Golan, who took coffee Monday night with his brother Colin on the eve of the Jewish Sabbath.
This clash between Berkovich and Moshe Lyon, an Orthodox Jew, focused on religious issues, including restrictions on Saturday in the Israeli capital. Haredi in the city or the ultra-Orthodox Jews want a full stop on Saturday's trading for 25 hours in predominantly Jewish West Jerusalem, including nightclubs, bars and film theaters that are now open.
"I am not against religion or religious people, but I want public transportation on Shabbat and the mayor who is open," Golan said, with the Hebrew word for Saturday.
Lyon, who allegedly supports the Haredius rabbiis and politicians, promised to build homes for the ultra-Orthodox sector in mixed religious-secular neighborhoods. He opposes public transport on Saturday and has promised that he will never attend the annual Gay Pride marathon or participate in the panel in the Reform Synagogue.
Berkovitch promised the exact opposite.
Gilad Malach, director of an ultra-orthodox program at the Israeli Institute for Democracy, said that some hostility between the ultra-Orthodox community and other communities was due to the long-term lack of housing in the city, which further aggravated the birth rate.
Exceptional Orthodox families in Israel have an average of seven children, compared to the average of three children in general.
"Haredim is moving to religiously mixed neighborhoods and changing the atmosphere" by opening ultra-Orthodox schools and synagogues, and sometimes with closed streets for Saturday traffic, or by introducing informal clothing codes to women, Malach explained. "The less religious and secular inhabitants are afraid that they will eventually not feel at home in their neighborhoods."
Jossi Klein Halevi, a senior associate at the Shalom Hartman Institute, agreed that the non-Hariri Jews "fear that Jerusalem, the capital of the secular state of Israel, will become hostile".
He warned that the victory in Haredi would increase the flying of young non-Haradhi residents who make up the future tax base of the city, the energy of a vibrant art scene, and attend university universities of the world class.
About 60 percent of the population of Jerusalem is Jewish: about half are haredi, the rest is secular, traditional or modern Orthodox.
The remaining 40 percent are Arabs, which are about 99 percent Muslim and 1 percent Christian. Most adhere to the command of the Palestinian leadership to boycott the Israeli election.
Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Center for Religious Affairs in Israel, a political branch of the reform movement in Israel, wished for a "missed opportunity" to use religion as an inspiration for reconciliation in a often broken city.
"Instead of considering religion as a positive common denominator, it is used in the most negative way," Hoffman said. "The candidates demanded that the municipality will no longer hang the flag of the Gay Pride Parade and stop religious services to Christians. It is used to limit the life decisions of others."
Rhetoric around the outflows has sometimes become ugly.
In a video clip that took place on Sunday during a political rally, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, the head of one of the Haredi parties supporting Lyon, seemed to call the devil Berkovich and claimed that the secular candidate, if elected, "defiled Jerusalem".
Deri said that "they are supported by all the great rabbis of Israel [Lion] against a non-evolutionary candidate who literally wants to continue to transform Jerusalem and turn the sacred city into a city like every other city. "
This is what Mordechai Cohen, a regular student at the haredi yeshiva, is talking about.
"Israel is full of cities, but only one Jerusalem, the holy city of the Jews, prayed and died for centuries. The foreign army destroyed our sanctuary, destroyed our synagogues, our ancient cemeteries. Now we have our own country and this is in our power, to turn Jerusalem into a religious sanctuary, which was always intended, "said Cohen.
Colin Golan, Guyoz's brother, said that he wanted to preserve the special significance of Jerusalem, not at the expense of the non-Orthodox inhabitants.
"I can do almost everything I want to do on Saturday, but there is no public transport, so poor people who can not afford to buy a car can not visit midwives at their leisure time," he said.
Golan Brothers said that most of their friends left Jerusalem to devote themselves to a more secular lifestyle.
"The young people want to stay here, but when it comes to religious freedom, Jerusalem is a pretty lost cause," said Colin Golan.