Any time public figures want to claim that Jerusalem is not becoming ultra-Orthodox, they point out that no movie theater or restaurant open on Saturday has closed down. The man who led the struggle to open movie theaters and restaurants on Saturday and provided so many public figures with this fig leaf was the late leader of Jerusalem's Meretz branch, Arnon Yekutieli, who eventually became deputy mayor. He also established a group that collected information on illegal allocations Aryeh Deri made to local authorities.
Jerusalem is known for commemorating its deputy mayors. A major street in Ramat Shlomo was named after late deputy mayor Zalman Druck. Shmuel Meir, the man who opened the Western Wall Tunnel and worked to establish the neighborhood of Har Homa on the edge of southern Jerusalem, not only has a boulevard in that neighborhood named after him, but the whole quarter is now called Homat Shmuel. But the capital has no Yekutieli street or Arnon Hill neighborhood.
An urban legend has it that the Yekutieli family does not want it. One wonders who has an interest in spreading that legend. His widow, Leora Segev-Yekutieli, says that is not so. She says that when Ehud Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem, there was a plan to turn the northern part of Sacher Park into a kind of Hyde Park called Arnon Yekutieli Park. The plaza where speakers were to stand was to look out on the Supreme Court and the Knesset.
But in February 2003, Olmert moved to the government and left his job to Mayor Uri Lupolianski of United Torah Judaism. Since then, Segev-Yekutieli says that her appeals get a response only when pressure is brought to bear, after long delays, and that those responses are evasive. The commemoration process has dissipated. Thus, for example, in the summer of 2003, she was promised that she would soon meet with the mayor, but in April 2005 she noted in a letter to Lupolianski that the meeting had not yet been scheduled. "Even if his way was never seemly to you, you know well that Arnon was loved by many residents," Segev-Yekutieli wrote.
The Jerusalem municipal spokesman's bureau responded that many deputy mayors have not been commemorated. The names committee has a proposal before it to name a plaza after Yekutieli, and it will be discussing it. The city also claims that no official request was made to establish the park, and if one is made, it will be deliberated.
There are many details in this response, but it is difficult to find in it any good will.
The Prime Minister's Office responded this week that Olmert is sorry the initiative to commemorate Yekutieli with a Jerusalem park has not been implemented.
According to Olmert, "Arnon was a public figure who impacted Jerusalem for many years. Although he knew how to engender controversy, he should be commemorated in the city."
Until Yekutieli wins true commemoration in Jerusalem, here are two symbolic proposals: Name the giant suspension bridge now under construction at Jerusalem's exit after him. Thus, every secular person leaving the city due to the ultra-Orthodox takeover will pass through Yekutieli Bridge.
Or, residents of Modi'in should name a large, central plaza after Yekutieli. In the end, that is the real city of Jerusalem's secular citizens. Before he went in for his last operation, Yekutieli even thought about running for mayor there.
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