Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Mayor of Jerusalem addresses large crowd on campus

The mayor of Jerusalem said Tuesday that one of the goals of his administration is to increase the number of tourists visiting the city to 10 million per year from the current two million.

According to Nir Barkat — who has served as Jerusalem’s mayor for one year — it’s unacceptable to him that a city with so much history has so few visitors annually.

Barkat made the remarks to a crowd of nearly 800 at the University of Denver’s Newman Center for the Performing Arts. His visit was co-hosted by DU Chancellor Robert Coombe and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter.

“We have a 3,000-year-old brand and 800,000 people living in Jerusalem,” Barkat said. “I want to open Jerusalem for the world to enjoy.” He said Jerusalem should aim to have as many tourists as Rome and New York City.

Problems facing the city, including low wages for city workers compared to the rest of the country, and his plans for dealing with them, were covered extensively by the mayor during his one-hour speech and question-and-answer session.

Barkat was interrupted several times by audience members who didn’t agree with his comments on settlements and other issues facing Jerusalem and Israel. In addition, several dozen protestors gathered outside the Newman Center. Some opposed Barkat and the Israeli government while others showed their support for the country’s leaders and their policies. The two groups spent much of the time shouting at each other. However, DU Campus Safety and the Denver Police Department reported no incidents.

Barkat’s stop at DU was part of a two-day visit to Denver. It was also his first appearance at American university since his election.

He ended the evening by addressing ongoing conflicts in the country — a subject on the minds of most people when Israel is mentioned.

He simply said, “Everyone wants peace.”

Comments are closed.