Nir Barkat

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Nir Barkat
ניר ברקת
Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem (4462290204) (cropped).jpg
Nir Barkat, mayor of Jerusalem in 2010 at Chatham House
Mayor of Jerusalem
Assumed office
Preceded by Uri Lupolianski
Personal details
Born ניר ברקת
(1959-10-19) 19 October 1959 (age 55)
Jerusalem, Israel
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Beverly Barkat
Children 3
Alma mater Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Religion Judaism

Nir Barkat (Hebrew: ניר ברקת‎; born 19 October 1959) is an Israeli businessman and politician. He's best known for having served as the Mayor of Jerusalem, a position that he has held since 2008. His tenure is known internationally for his role in trying to promote tourism and encourage major social projects as well as his high-profile conflicts with the ultra-Orthodox minority.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Nir Barkat was born in 1959 and raised in Jerusalem. His father, Zalman, was a professor of physics at the Hebrew University. He served in the Paratroopers Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces for six years (1977–1983), as well as reserve duty, and reached the rank of Major.

Barkat holds a BA in computer science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He also studied for a master's degree in business administration at the same institution, but hasn't completed it.

Barkat and his wife Beverly have three daughters.

Barkat was named the 43rd most influential Jewish person in 2013.[2]

Barkat and his family live in the primarily secular neighborhood of Beit HaKerem in Jerusalem.


Barkat started his career in the hi-tech industry by founding a software company called BRM in 1988, which specialized in antivirus software. Later the company became an incubator venture firm that invested in several companies such as Check Point and Backweb. He later helped found the social investment company IVN.

Barkat entered politics in January 2003 when he founded the party Yerushalayim Tatzli'ah ("Jerusalem Will Succeed") and ran in the Jerusalem mayoral race, gaining 43% of the vote losing to Uri Lupoliansky by double-digits. He became head of the opposition on the city council, until the 2008 election.

In 2007, Barkat took part in the Israeli version of Dragons' Den, the venture-capitalist television program, which consists of entrepreneurs pitching their ideas in order to secure investment from business experts.

Barkat ran again and won the election for mayor of Jerusalem on 11 November 2008 gaining 52% of the votes, defeating his main rival Meir Porush, who won 43% of the votes. Barkat is described as a secular politician, contrasting with both Lupoliansky and Porush, who are described as Haredi.[3] His Palestinian counterpart in a titular role for East Jerusalem as opposed to West Jerusalem is Zaki al-Ghul.[4]

Barkat has come under fire from women's rights activists. Women on the Jerusalem City Council have protested illegally gender-segregated buses and illegal modesty signs, which Barkat refuses to address. The Jerusalem city councilwoman, Rachel Azaria who brought the case of gender segregated buses in Jerusalem to the court's attention was fired by secular Mayor Nir Barkat. [5] Laura Wharton, a member of Jerusalem City Council, complained to the city and Barkat about the illegal modesty signs: “I didn’t get a serious answer. I was brushed off.”[6] Community activists Nili Weinfeld and Karnina Keinan have also appealed to Barkat, demanding that he order removal of the signs from the municipality's streets. [7] Barkat has also criticized the effort by Women of the Wall to exercise their right to pray in their fashion at the Kotel.[8]

The Guardian has stated that Barkat's socio-economic leadership has been "generally seen as a success". As stated before, his tenure focused on trying to promote high-scale tourism as well as encourage major social projects. However, Jerusalem's politics in the new millennium have remained as fractious and divided as ever, with fissures existing between ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups versus other Jewish groups and the Palestinians.[1]

Barkat ran in the 2013 Jerusalem mayoral elections.[9] He was endorsed by the Labor Party, and also by a range of prominent Likud activists.[10] In addition, he had the tacit support of Meretz, which withdrew its candidate, Pepe Alalu, in order not to steal votes away from Barkat.[11] Preliminary results showed Barkat re-elected with 52% of the vote.[12] Barkat's 2013 victory came despite the fact that his opposition had backing from the powerful political figures Avigdor Lieberman and Aryeh Deri.[1] Barkat endorsed Benjamin Netanyhau for PM in the 2013 and 2015 Knesset elections.[13][14]

In February 2015, Barkat intervened after seeing a Palestinian person stab a Jewish man who was travelling to a wedding. Barkat jumped out his car and tackled the attacker, who was then held down by the Mayoral security detail until the police arrived.


Nir Barkat opening the 2012 Jerusalem Film Festival

External links[edit]