Be'er Sheva's Young Mayor Finds Advisor in 90-year-old Predecessor

A fancy corporate car drew up to the Ganei Omer retirement village, as it has every Monday for the past six months. Out stepped Oren Segron, driver for Be'er Sheva Mayor Rubik Danilovich, to open a door for Eliahu Nawi, 90, the long-term former mayor who lives in the home.

"Drive as you would for an incumbent mayor," Danilovich had instructed Segron.

Nawi is 63 years older than Danilovich, a protege of the city's previous mayor. Lately, Nawi has been advising him.

The two met a short time before the last mayoral elections in Be'er Sheva. Danilovich, feeling the city needed younger leadership, was uncertain whether to run against the incumbent, considered his political godfather. He approached Nawi, who had served as mayor for 23 years before detaching himself from politics. Nawi gave him his blessing.

"After I retired, I stayed out of politics. Some candidates asked for my support, but I was careful and didn't endorse anyone," Nawi says.

When Danilovich entered the picture, things changed, though.

"I was afraid unqualified people would be appointed. Danilovich is a young man, but you can see his potential, like with a sapling," he said.

When Danilovich was elected, he asked Nawi to attend all regular city council sessions, as well as his one-on-one meetings with senior officials.

"We meet often, sometimes for coffee. He asks for my advice, and sometimes I raise issues," Nawi says.

Last July, body guards started accompanying Danilovich after he received death threats, due to demolition orders issued for illegal businesses in the city.

Nawi approached the Ometz movement, a citizen's group for ethics in government, and asked them to bestow their award on the mayor.

"I like him and admire him very much," Nawi says. "He is honest; the difference between what he says and what he does is very small. I hope he won't leave Be'er Sheva for national politics."

Danilovich also says the two are very close.

"I was brought up to listen and learn from others, especially older people like Nawi, who are rich in life experience," Danilovich says. "I learn from what he's done, from his stories and even from his proverbs. There is a lot of political and civic wisdom in them."

Last week Danilovich organized an evening in honor of Nawi. Singer Yardena Arazi approached Nawi during the ceremony and said, "I dedicate my next song to the best mayor of Be'er Sheva." Nawi responded, "In this case I have to say that the student has surpassed his teacher."