Why I joined Hitorerut

The coming election is critical to Jerusalem’s future. Those of us with the great responsibility to choose Jerusalem’s next leaders should consider their vote carefully. It is with this understanding that I decided to run for city council with Hitorerut and support Ofer Berkovitch for mayor.

Since making aliyah nine years ago, I have worked to build the State of Israel. I represented Israel during international treaty negotiations as part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and worked as the legislative advisor to the Likud. Now, I am the vice president of Partnerships at Jgive, a venture that encourages giving to Israeli charities.

At the same time, I have also always cared deeply about Jerusalem, the city of my residence for my entire adult life in Israel. During the last election I even proudly worked on Nir Barkat’s mayoral campaign.

Two years ago, I started to worry about Jerusalem’s future. Mayor Barkat joined the Likud and started focusing on national politics at the expense of our city. His distracted focus demanded that we find new leadership for Israel’s capital. This is when I decided to dedicate my political activities to Jerusalem.

At that moment, I decided to join Hitorerut and I did so for three reasons that still hold true today.

Firstly, Hitorerut values are my values. The party was founded on giving a voice to the Zionist, moderate population of Jerusalem while still being sure to serve of all Jerusalem’s populations – religious and secular, Jewish and Arab. We both see Jerusalem as the capital of all the Jewish people and want the municipality to serve all its residents.

Secondly, Hitorerut is the municipal party with by far the most accomplishments. These achievements include advancements in culture, economic development, fighting bureaucracy, helping young families, public transportation and more. Most importantly, it has done this work while insisting on accessibility for all those who seek assistance from the municipality.

Thirdly, I quickly saw that in Hitorerut, our love for Jerusalem trumps any political calculations. In every single discussion, we put Jerusalem before everything else. This is not surprising since we are the only Zionist movement left in Jerusalem that grew from the bottom up. We are Jerusalemites of all stripes, fighting for our city – not outside actors looking for a job. Our list of representatives is not one that was made by political calculations but is made of activists who have worked from within the movement for years.

Despite these three powerful strengths of the party, many disregarded our chances and scoffed at my decision to support Hitorerut. I, however, am unsurprised that Ofer Berkovitch holds a sizable lead according to every recent independent poll. Our lead was gained without the support of national political operatives because of all our advantages above and the fact that we are the only party with a serious vision. Our plans for the next five years are written up in an 80+ page platform (something that most national parties would be jealous of!), while other parties have completely disregarded the need to outline a vision at all.

We see the main challenges to Jerusalem in the next five years in the fields of economic development, housing prices, sanitation and embracing Jerusalem’s diversity. We have detailed plans on how to address each and every one of these issues.

We work together, religious and secular, in order to build Jerusalem and improve day to day life in the city.

Most importantly, we are a real movement, made of hundreds of volunteers, connected to every community in this city. We are energized, motivated and eager to get things done.

Next week, residents of Jerusalem will have the chance to influence the future of the most important city in the world.

This is a great privilege, as well as a great responsibility. I invite you to join us by voting for Ofer Berkovitch for mayor, and Hitorerut for the city council.

About the Author
Dan Illouz is a member of the Jerusalem City Council with the Hitorerut movement.
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