Arcadi Gaydamak - former arms dealer, sports fan and wealthy social activist - has officially declared himself running for Mayor of Jerusalem, and has positioned members of his 'social movement' to run for various government positions in 55 other places in Israel.
Nir Bareket - millionaire, leader of the opposition on the Jerusalem Municipal Board, and social activist - has also announced his candidacy for the Mayor of Jerusalem, representing the "last chance for Jerusalem to remain pluralistic."
Bareket refers of course to the assault and domination of Jerusalem by the Ultra-Orthodox, facilitated by PM Ehud Olmert and led by the current Mayor, Lupolianski. Uri Lupolianski and his cronies regularly ask their Rabbi for political guidance, and belong to a movement within Judaism that does not recognize the validity of a secular Jewish country.
Meanwhile, Jerusalem remains one of the poorest, dirtiest and most polluted cities in all of Israel; one has to wonder where our taxes have been re-allocated, perhaps to the seminaries that encourage perfectly healthy family men not to work and not to serve in the army. Communities which in their spare time burn public property, stone Israeli citizens and police men, and host anti-Semitic Iranian Presidents.
In Jewish tradition, wealth is one of the characteristics of a "good" King for Israel, because it will prevent the leader from being bribed or swayed by the allure of the bling. Both Gaydamak and Bareket fit that bill, Barakat has subtly bought votes while Gaydamak has taken the more direct approach: paying for busloads of Sderot children to go to an amusement park for the day, buying the flailing Jerusalem soccer team, or contributing NIS One Million for a playground at a yeshiva in Or Akiva.
Let's face it, charisma helps for a politician, but money makes you The Candidate. The same is true in the American presidential elections, where a candidate is judged only partially by their popularity and positions, but mostly by their war chest.
I voted for Nir Bareket last time and hope to have that chance again. Anything to stop the Ultra-Orthodox tyranny and restore the honor of the city that is holy to all religions, and just happens to be my home.