For the past few months, my husband has been working with Yossi Daitch as the liaison to the dati leumi community. Since we’re not chareidi, I was a bit skeptical at first at the thought of campaigning for a chareidi mayor of Jerusalem, but since I’ve had an inside look at who Yossi Daitch really is, I’ve changed my tune.
Because I’ve learned that Daitch is someone who genuinely cares about improving the day-to-day lives of Jerusalem residents — all Jerusalem residents. Moreover, he has concrete plans to do so.
Of course, many non-chareidim are skeptical, or terrified, or furious, at the thought of having a chareidi mayor.
“He’ll turn Jerusalem into Bnei Brak,” and “He’ll only take care of chareidim,” are some popular criticisms. (My personal favorite is a Facebook commenter who wrote, “Go become chiloni, then I’ll vote for you.”)
Of course, Daitch won’t become chiloni and not even modern orthodox; he’s a chareidi candidate and there’s no escaping it. But the fact that he’s chareidi shouldn’t erase his experience and his proven track record of success. (And by the way, in the 7+ years he’s served as Deputy Mayor and in the many other positions he’s held, he’s never once been accused of favoring chareidim.)
Here are 5 reasons Daitch would make a great mayor of Jerusalem:
He’s Got Courage
Since before the campaign, Daitch has been pressured by Aryeh Deri and Shas not to run (since he refuses to cave to their demands). He’s stood up to the pressure because he believes he has what to offer the city. This is why Degel HaTorah and Shas support Moshe Lion (and his backer, Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman), who allegedly made a deal with them to allow easy army exemption in return for votes. As a former IDF soldier and 14-year reservist, Daitch doesn’t see an issue with the draft.
Daitch showed similar backbone when he founded the Keren Foundation in 2007, a non-profit that provides education for chareidim and helps them with job placement. Many rabbis opposed establishing such an organization, but Daitch knew how to work with them quietly, without blown-up conflict, to reach a solution to a growing problem he identified.
In short, Daitch knows how to stand up against pressure and to get things done, even when facing strong opposition. He’s also not afraid to go against chareidi opinions in order to do what’s right for Jerusalem.
Daitch is All About Jerusalem Residents
Daitch is 7th generation Yerushalmi; he knows Jerusalem like the back of his hand and he cares about the people who live here — all the people. As such, improved sanitation features prominently in his 5-point plan, since he’s aware that many neighborhoods lack proper garbage collection and bins.
Additionally, Daitch plans on reallocating funds from Jerusalem’s cultural budget to community centers, empowering them to play more central roles in the lives of Jerusalem locals.
Practically, this means that with Daitch as mayor, we won’t see as many grandiose city-wide events — you know, the kinds that are geared toward tourists from other cities and countries but often cause problems for the people who actually live here. We will see more smaller-scale events and services from community centers, customized to serve the needs of different Jerusalem communities.
Improved Educational Facilities
Both East and West Jerusalem are short thousands of classrooms and viable structures to house schools. (I personally know of mamlachti schools that have over 40 kids per class.) Daitch’s priority is to create more classrooms and school buildings all over Jerusalem. To do this, he needs to get approval from various national ministers. Easier said than done, of course, but Daitch has a track record of finding solutions to serious issues (such as the Keren Foundation).
4. More Affordable Housing
The foundation of Daitch’s 5-point plan is to increase housing options by immediately approving building plans that have been frozen for the past decade due to national politics. These plans have already been approved by Jerusalem officials; all they need is the mayor’s signature. However, Netanyahu has his own reasons for pausing the building, and any politician who is beholden to Likud is stuck. Like Barkat, Leon, and Elkin.
Daitch, on the other hand, is not beholden to Likud; he wants to sign the plans and immediately increase the supply of apartments in Jerusalem. Since this is the capital of Israel and a major international city, we can’t expect prices to plummet, but the premise of supply and demand means that buying a normal apartment will become more feasible.
If you’re concerned that Daitch doesn’t have any experience in this arena, rest assured: He’s served as Acting Chairman of the Local Committee for Planning and Construction and has been a member of the Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee for 5 years.
5. Increased Employment Opportunities
We need more jobs in Jerusalem, especially hi-tech jobs. Daitch believes that in order to create a hi-tech hub out of Jerusalem, you first need people to stay in the city. That’s why it’s so important to him to build more apartments and improve sanitation. Once people are no longer leaving Jerusalem, hi-tech companies will have more incentive to open offices here. At the same time, Daitch plans on providing assistance to small-mid sized businesses, providing support to the tourism industry, and attracting entrepreneurs and investors.
Daitch isn’t Your Guy if…
Listen, there are some things about Daitch that if you don’t like, you won’t be able to get over. For example:
There are no women on his platform. Why doesn’t that bother me? Because he regularly works with women and has spent his entire career providing equal opportunities of education and employment to men and women. Moreover, I accept that this is the chareidi way. If you can’t accept it, you can’t accept Daitch.
He will never advocate opening restaurants on Shabbat. However, he has signed an agreement to maintain the status quo in the city, which is that restaurants can be open on Shabbat.
He advocates regulation of Machane Yehuda. Daitch doesn’t want to shut down the pubs and bars in Machane Yehuda, but he does want to regulate them. The Shuk is an incredibly small area that on certain nights packs thousands of people — and it lacks sufficient safety and sanitation measures. Daitch wants to implement them, without squelching the hangouts that are important to so many.
Daitch is Your Guy if…
You want a mayor who genuinely cares about Jerusalem, who has a solid plan for making some desperately-needed improvements to our beloved city, and who has the courage and ability to make them happen.