Right-wing activist Aryeh King is playing the race card in his campaign for Jerusalem city council, promising to clean the capital's parks of Arabs and lower the volume on the muezzins,
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The slogans on his campaign posters read along the lines of “Are you afraid in the park?” and “Muezzin cackling?” King, whose primary endeavor in recent years has been purchasing land settling Jews in Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, has created a candidate list named the “seam neighborhood list,” which focuses on Jerusalem’s periphery neighborhoods.
Aside from making calls to improve cleanliness and quality of life services in these neighborhoods, King also wants to deal to the "problem" of Arabs in the western part of the city.
“The problem of Arabs in parks is a problem that spans beyond the seam neighborhoods,” King said to Haaretz. “It starts with the fact that the government and the municipality did not invest in East Jerusalem like they did in West Jerusalem. The Arabs have no choice but to go west to the parks. The result is that many families stay away from the parks. I have no problem with his, I live with Arabs, but many Jews do have a problem with it, and that’s understandable,” continued King.
According to King, part of the problem is the prohibition on drinking alcohol and socializing with women within the Arab community. “The Jews have alternatives and the Arabs don’t, so they come and do it in parks on the western side of the city. It’s no secret that there are abandoned parks in Neve Ya'akov, Pisgat Ze’ev, and Gilo. They’re abandoned because of the Arabs from the nearby neighborhoods.”
The solution, King says, is to lock all parks at night, save for one in each neighborhood, which would be equipped with security cameras and lighting. “This will be the best for everyone. If an Arab wants to come, he can, but he will know that the days of terrorizing Jewish girls in the park are over.”
Another problematic phenomenon that King has identified is the increasing volume of the muezzins in Palestinian neighborhoods. “It’s a problem that causes suffering for everyone, both Arabs and Jew. It cannot be that people are woken up at 4:30 in the morning because the muezzin decided to turn up the volume,” said King.
King is known for his ties to the millionaire Irving Moskowitz, who funds much of King’s land purchases and settlements in East Jerusalem. In the last Knesset election, King was number four on the Otzma Leyisrael ticket.
King is very critical of current Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, who he claims is “Jerusalem's most left-wing mayor.”
This statement earned King some praise from Moshe Leon, who is competing against Barkat in the mayoral race. “Aryeh King is a patriot, both local and national,” read a statement from Leon’s staff.
Through King, Leon’s campaign is hoping to overcome Barkat’s apparent advantage with the religious community, which is likely to be the deciding factor in the election. Leon has also joined King’s calls for preserving resident’s safety, “we see King as a partner in a future coalition.
"The time has come to bring safety back neighborhoods,” read a statement from Leon’s campaign.
At the same time, however, King has not been quick to endorse Leon, and is himself considering a run at the mayor’s office. “That’s what’s called a bear hug,” said King regarding Leon’s statement. “If I’m convinced that the Haredim support Leon, I’ll pitch in and support Leon, in order to get the left-winger out of the mayor’s office, and if the Haredim support me, I expect Leon to support me, too.”