Jerusalem, D.C.?

by Maskil on 31 Aug 2008

In a post last Sunday, I suggested that – in view of the likely outcome of Jerusalem’s municipal election – the Israeli central government may eventually be obliged to take over some or all aspects of Jerusalem’s administration.

My reasons for suggesting this somewhat drastic step had to do with the deterioration of the city’s composition, standing and infrastructure under the relatively benign rule of Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Mayor Uri Lupolianski, and the expected further deterioration under the most likely mayoral candidate, MK Meir Porush. Porush is widely expected to end all pretence of running an administration for the benefit of all Jerusalem’s inhabitants, and simply focus on the narrow sectional interests of the Haredim.

It seems I’m not alone in this view. In an article in Haaretz (Yeruham in Jerusalem) published a couple of days later, Anshel Pfeffer appears to have independently arrived at the same conclusion. Judging by the relatively few comments on the article, the article seems to have largely flown under the radar. The conclusion read as follows:

The only long-term solution for Jerusalem’s ills is legislation that would expropriate substantial portions of the municipality’s authority and transfer it to a special ministry or government department established for this purpose. Various detailed proposals along these lines already exist, such as one to establish a super-municipality that would manage the capital’s entire urban expanse, including the satellite cities of Mevasseret Zion, Tzur Hadassah and Ma’aleh Adumim, while splitting Jerusalem into several quarters that would run their own municipal affairs autonomously.

Opponents of such a move will charge that it is anti-democratic. Yet far older democracies treat their capitals in similar ways. The American constitution gives Washington, D.C., special status, and some of its affairs are managed by the federal government. In 1985, the British parliament voted to abolish the Greater London Council, on the grounds that it had become wasteful and inefficient.

Israel’s government has every justification for assuming responsibility for its capital city.

This may or may not be the answer, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that radical steps do need to be taken to address the urban decay, demographic imbalance and the flight of capital and jobs from the city.

Jerusalem, D.C. or Haredistan? As with most other things in life, not choosing also ends up being a choice.

(Hat tip to Joel Katz (Religion and State in Israel) for bringing the Haaretz article to my notice.)


Yeruham in Jerusalem – Haaretz – Israel News

Related posts:

Altneuland: The real demographic threat?

Altneuland: Exorcising the Haredi Golem

Altneuland: Jerusalem of Gold or Jerusalem of Black?

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