All's well with the world: Nir Barkat won the race to become mayor of Jerusalem. He ran against a venerable ultra-Orthodox rabbi, Meir Porush, and a Russian multi-millionaire [or maybe not], Arkady Gaydamak.
Porush was filmed campaigning in Yiddish [which isn't even an official language in Israel], promising that within a decade there wouldn't be any secular Jews left in Jerusalem. In spite of his adherents trying to block voting by intimidation, stone throwing, and trashing polling stations [as well as voting lots of dead people, it is rumored], got only a little more than 40% of the vote. Part of the reason is that there is a feud between the Admor [leading rabbi] of the Gur Hassidim, and Porush, who is a "Litvak". The Admor instructed his followers, one of the biggest hassidic sects, not to vote for Porush. The ultra-Orthodox men always vote the way their rabbi tells them to, and the men tell their wives to vote that way as well [and they do]
Gaydamak, who looks and acts a lot like the Godfather if the Godfather was a Russian with a touch of Mongol about him, and who is very likely now to face various criminal charges in Europe, got barely 3.6% of the vote, in spite of paying residents NIS 300 to hang campaign posters on their homes. The source of his wealth is rumored to be arms trafficking [if people are being nice], but he's apparently in serious difficulties now. He may be the owner of the much-loved local soccer team, Betar Yerushalayim, but he is not someone from whom you would buy a second-hand car, and the public sensed this.
Nir Barkat is young, "traditional" rather than completely secular [that means he hasn't got a problem putting on a kippah or observing Jewish custom at holidays], a successful IT businessman, with a raft of ideas for getting Jerusalem out of its slough. I found it very amusing that the BBC called him "right wing". Here in Israel, his political stance is regarded as centrist. BBC prejudice strikes again.
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