At 6 P.M. on Tuesday two buses stuffed with about 75 Jerusalem voters who now live in or near Tel Aviv left for the capital. "These elections are crucial," says real estate lawyer Yossi Basson, 27, explaining his reasons for being on the bus.
"After the last municipal elections I moved my life to Tel Aviv but I purposely didn't change the address in my identity card so I could affect the election. The results of the last election, in which an ultra-Orthodox mayor was chosen, were a disaster for the gay and lesbian community, to which I belong. Last year I went to the Gay Pride parade and felt like I was in detention, living in oppression. I know that everyone in the gay community is voting. I hope that Nir Barkat will bring freedom and progress back to the city and that he'll fight against the trampling of human rights. Everyone tells me, 'Let it go, you live in Tel Aviv,' but Jerusalem's the capital and I can't accept that a minority living there walks all over the majority and tramples their human rights," Basson said.
Ohad Tzur, also 27, a campaign worker in Nir Barkat's campaign, is responsible for the voter busing initiative. "It was spontaneous," he says of the busing idea. "We publicized it using Facebook, e-mail, newspaper advertisements and on Radio Jerusalem, and a lot of people responded. The goal is to enable people who are disappointed by the changes that have occurred in Jerusalem and still have the desire and the ability to make a difference to come. We're willing to help them, at the end of the work day, to make a change for the good of the city. Every vote counts," Tzur said.
Computer technician Yosef Orr, 24, nods at Greenberg's comments. "I also left Jerusalem because of employment," he said. "In Jerusalem I found a job with starvation wages and in Tel Aviv I got an offer that was three times as much, within a year. Jerusalem became ultra-Orthodox. I'm coming to vote but I don't believe there will be a change. Barkat is the lesser evil. Porush will ruin the city, Barkat will prevent catastrophe. It's important to me to return because Jerusalem is in my soul," Orr said.
Sitting among the young people on the bus is Ruth Weiner, who for the past year has lived in Herzliya with her family. "Ever since making aliyah I lived in Jerusalem," she said. "All of our friends have left the city, but I came back to vote. I still think about moving back to Jerusalem. I don't like the way things are - the traffic jams, the neglect, the 'haredization.' I would have come to vote even without this bus, this election is very important to me," Weiner said.
The bus pulls up to the International Convention Center (Binyanei Ha'ooma). Everyone gets off in order to find his or her polling place in the city. Tzur hurries them along, and everyone smiles. "We'll be waiting here at 10:30 if you want to return with us to Tel Aviv," he promises.
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