Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nir Barkat, Jerusalem's Mayor

Tonight we were greeted by Jerusalem's mayor, Nir Barkat. After he welcomed us home, he shared some of the scary statistics about Jerusalem - it's the poorest city with 50 percent of its children under the poverty line.

People are leaving Jlem in droves. Why? Usually due to the economiv situation, price of housing is high, schools aren't top notch and quality of life isn't the highest here. But he doesn't want to focus on the negative.

He noted that there are four consituencies to jlem - residents, israel, jewish community and world comminity. We are all shareholders in the benefit of Jerusalem.

Two million visitors (tourist) to Jerusalem each year. This is, Mr Barkat explained, paltry compared to other world cities - and we have a 3000 year old "brand" to sell! One of his goals is to increase tourism - through promotion of culture and economic opportunities.

He brings his "business approach" instead of the "army approach." Army works against enemies. Business works for customers. Obviously it would make sense to change away from the army approach and treat citizens like customers. It also gives an opening to shared collaboration....he's built quite a coalition of various viewpoints that will hopefully transcend politics.

He takes only a dollar a year salary. You gotta believe that someone with that much commitment has something going for him....right?

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