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A brief paean to the two-decades-long mayor of Jerusalem, by the author of A Refuge From Darkness (1984). Kollek's job is monumentally challenging--keeping peace and social stability in a city of militantly opposed ethnic villages, where three different Sabbaths are celebrated. Shepherd reveals Kollek as a man of destiny, his dichotomous personality the perfect vessel for undertaking this task. Here is a man of contrasts: a peacekeeper who is himself testy and domineering; a multiterm politician of the Left in a city that has a strong Rightist majority; a populist figure who yet cultivates the culturati of the world; a non-observant Jew in a city of ultra-orthodox Jews; a Zionist who owes his reelections to thousands of Arab votes. Shepherd finds the riddle of Kollek's success answered by his strength: "". . .while factional politics could rip the city apart, only a strong man who appears to stand above party politics can govern."" That, and a strong helping of Fate. ""Kollek's success in Jerusalem has depended on his having been in office at a specific moment in history, a moment which he was uniquely equipped to exploit."" Shepherd goes on to present Kollek through a series of vignettes, showing him at his desk, negotiating with other city leaders, leading the restoration of the inner city (under his reign, Jerusalem has outstripped Tel Aviv as Israel's largest city), and facing the city's problems head-on (the gap between service levels in the Jewish and Arab quarters; the strain on municipal services caused by suburbanization; conservationists' opposition to his development plans; criticism of his playing footsie with the Eastern churches; etc.). Shepherd implies that Jerusalem is unimaginable without Kollek, who this year still must decide, at 75, whether he will seek yet another term. A nifty, short treatment of one of the world's dynamic political characters.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1988
Publisher: Harper & Row