Apathy and Mistrust in Ramat Gan Municipal Elections

The general feeling among the city's residents is that none of the candidates can be trusted.

Roy (Chicky) Arad
Roy Arad
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As an indictment for corruption charges brought the political curtain down on Ramat Gan's longtime mayor Zvi Bar, the city's residents yesterday elected their first new mayor in 24 years.

The leading mayoral candidates were former Likud MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen and Israel Singer, former principal of the Blich high school. Others vying for the post were former Likud MK David Mena, a candidate going by the unusual name Rami Gani, a representative of the Young People's list called Liad Ilani who looks like a male model, and a politician named Avihu Ben Menashe. I imagined their excitement ahead of the election and wished them luck.

Touring Ramat Gan one cannot avoid the face of artist Yair Garbuz looking out from posters supporting a party called "Na." A father of a friend who attended campaign gatherings of all the candidates said the best refreshments were served at David Mena's meeting.

Indeed, Ramat Ganians are spoiled for choice, but in the face of all this abundance they demonstrate shocking apathy. They seem to despise the election, saying all the candidates are corrupt. Many people I spoke to said they would not vote, not even for Avihu Ben Menashe.

On the bus I met a man who told me the reason for the general disgust regarding the local election is the squabbles and ugly rivalries among the candidates. "It's thuggish, they tear up each other's posters and strike below the belt. Slander is worse than a gun," he said.

People standing around outside Falafel Ordea on Bialik Street said they did not intend to vote. "Everyone says 'me, me, me,'" one man said. "The candidates are doing nothing, they're just there."

The falafel vendor said she would not travel to Petah Tikva, her home town, to vote. "It's not worth the trouble. Everything will remain the same," she said.

At least one young mother, Talia, was very enthusiastic and covered her baby carriage with posters supporting Singer. She wheeled the pram proudly down Bialik Street. "Singer will bring change to this city, he comes from [the field of] education," Talia said passionately.

I asked why she wouldn't vote for young, energetic Shama. She mentioned a number of exposes recently published about him. "After everything we've read about him, you don't even want to think if it's true or not," she said.

Down the road I saw torn posters blasting Carmel Shama, under the headlined "Carmel Market." Most people I spoke to seemed to support Singer rather than Shama, and if I'm any judge of the mood in Ramat Gan I'm betting on him.

As a beverage vendor on Jabotinsky Street put it, "Shama will get a slap in the face tonight."

Zvi Bar Credit: Sivan Shahur
Carmel Shama-Hacohen.Credit: Ofer Vaknin