Jerusalem is suffering through a garbage strike right now. But it is not because the sanitation workers have gone on strike. It is Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat who has ordered that trash not be collected because he is angry with the Israeli government.
He has also suspended a number of other Jerusalem city services including programs for school children.
Yes, you heard that right. The people of Jerusalem must suffer a garbage strike because their mayor is a whiny cry baby.
And because people have been dumping the excess garbage into the middle of city streets, downtown Jerusalem buses and its light rail have ceased running. So there is also no public transportation right now because of the strike.
So why is this happening?
Well Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is angry with Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon over what he says is Kahlon’s failure to transfer extra funding to the city of Jerusalem for its 2017 budget. Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, relied on extra funding from the Israeli government to pay its bills. Now Barkat says that the city has not been given enough to pay its bills this year.
But Minister Kahlon says that Jerusalem is suffering from a shortfall due to its own city government’s incompetence.
So basically everyone in Jerusalem has gotten caught between two men in the middle of a pissing contest. The city of Jerusalem suffers because its Mayor is feuding with a cabinet Minister.
So let’s recap. Nir Barkat thinks that the best way to convince Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet to give it extra funds is by making everyone here in the city suffer. What’s that expression about cutting off your nose to spite your face?
Mayor Barkat, with all due respect, are you an idiot?
What next? Are you going to hold your breath until you get what you want?
How about just stopping trash collections at government office buildings and the Prime Minister’s residence? Or maybe you could have organized a sit down strike in front of the Knesset?
Did you even take any alternative actions into consideration Mr. Barkat before you decided to suspend the trash collection?
The cancellation of trash collection is hurting downtown Jerusalem’s small businesses the most. Nowhere is this more evident than in the famed outdoor market called Mahane Yehuda, also known as the Shuk.
Yitzhak Parides owns a small family business on Agrippas Street which sells kitchenware and other household goods. Customers could barely get across the street on Monday to enter his small store because of all the garbage.
“Even if he [Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat] is right he is hurting us more than he is the government,” said Yithak. “He is hurting all our health because of all the trash. He hasn’t stopped the trash collection in the neighborhoods, just in town.”
Sarah Barkai opened May Books on Eshkol Street in the middle of Mahane Yehuda just a few weeks ago. This Shuk side street was covered in trash on Monday. “The city is using its people as a pawn in a political feud between Mayor Barkat and the Finance Minister,” said Sarah.
“Because there are no buses here now nobody wants to come to the Shuk. Meanwhile we have to deal with all of the piles of rotting garbage.”
So what happens now?
Nothing! Not unless the courts intervene.
Don’t expect either Nir Barkat or Moshe Kahlon to back down any time soon.
So if you plan to be in Jerusalem this week be sure to wear very high boots to get through all of the piles of trash. And remember to keep one hand free at all times so that you will be able to hold your nose from the stench.
All of this courtesy of our illustrious mayor Nir Barkat who really seems to know how to run a city.
(This post first appeared in Jewish Business News.)