Jerusalem – Guioz Golan, a young Israeli businessman, has just moved to Tel Aviv, but as a registered voter in Jerusalem plans to visit the city on Tuesday to vote for Ofer Berkovich, a secular candidate who competed in the mayoral elections on November 13 here.
"Like everything else in Jerusalem, these elections reflect a conflict between secular and ultra-Orthodox," Golan said, drinking coffee with his brother Colin, at a cafe in the open Friday afternoon, on the eve of the Jewish Sabbath.
This conflict between Berkovich and Moshe Lyon, the Orthodox Jew, has become focussed on religious issues, including restrictions on the room in the capital of Israel. The city haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, Jews want a total stoppage on Saturday for 25 hours in the predominantly Jewish West Jerusalem, including nightclubs, bars and cinemas that are now open.
"I am not against religion or religious people, but I want public transportation to Shabbat and the mayor who is open," Golan said, using the Hebrew word for Saturday.
Lyon, who allegedly has the support of a rabbi rabbi and politicians, has promised to build homes for the ultralontological sector in mixed religious-secular settlements. He opposes public transport on Saturday and vowed never to attend the annual march of GAI Pride or participate in the panel in the Reform Synagogue.
Berkovic promised the exact opposite.
Gilad Malah, director of the ultra-Orthodox program of the Israeli Institute for Democracy, said that some enemies between the ultra-Orthodox community and other communities stem from the long-standing lack of an apartment in the city, which is aggravated by the high rate of birth rate.
An exceptionally Orthodox family in Israel has seven children on average, compared to the average of three children in general.
"Haredim moves into a religiously mixed neighborhood and changes the atmosphere by opening ultra-Orthodox schools and synagogues, and sometimes closing the streets for traffic on Wednesday or imposing informal clothing codes for women," Malah explained. "Less religious and secular residents are afraid that in the end they will not feel at home in their neighborhoods."
Iossi Klein Halevi, a senior colleague at the Shalom Hartman Institute, agreed that the Jews of the non-Haredi "are afraid that Jerusalem, the capital of the secular state of Israel, will become unacceptable".
He warned that the victory of Haredi will increase the flight of young non-hired residents who make up the future tax base of the city, stimulate their colorful art scene and attend a world-class university.
About 60 percent of Jerusalem's inhabitants are Jews: about half are Haredi, other secular, traditional or modern Orthodox Christians.
The other 40 percent are Arabs, who have about 99 percent of Muslims and 1 percent of Christians. Most adhere to the orders of the Palestinian leadership to boycott the Israeli elections.
Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Center for Religious Affairs of Israel, the political arm of the Reform Movement in Israel, regrets the "missed opportunity" that religion is used as an inspiration for reconciliation in the often crushed city.
"Instead of seeing religion as a positive common denominator among us, it is used in the most unfavorable way," said Hoffman. "The candidates asked that the municipality no longer hang on the flags of the Gay Pride Parade and stop religious services to Christians, and they are used to abolish the life choices of others."
Rhetoric around the second circle has become nasty sometimes.
In a video that was held at a political party on Sunday, Interior Minister Arieh Derry, the leader of one of the proud parties that supports Lyon, seems to be calling Berkovitch a devil and claims that, if elected, the secular candidate will "desecrate Jerusalem."
Deri said that "all the great Israeli rabbis support [Lion] against a non-elite candidate who literally wants to continue transforming Jerusalem and turning his world into a city like any other city. "
This applies to Mordechai Cohen, a full-time student in the haredi ieshiva.
"Israel is full of cities, but there is only one Jerusalem, the Jewish city prayed and died for centuries. The foreign armies robbed our holy places, destroyed our synagogues, our ancient cemeteries. Now we have our own land and within our power to turn Jerusalem into a religious the sanctuary, it should have always been, "Koen said.
Colin Golan, Gujo's brother, said he also wanted to maintain the special character of Jerusalem, but not at the expense of non-Orthodox inhabitants.
"I can do almost everything I want on Saturday, but there is no public transport, so poor people who can not afford to buy a car can not visit their grandmother on a day off," he said.
The Golan brothers said that most of their friends left Jerusalem to pursue a secular way of life.
"The young people want to stay here, but when it comes to religious freedom, Jerusalem is a pretty lost cause," Colin Golan said.