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No Fighting City Hall

Shimon Breitkopf and Shlomi Gil

As Jerusalem gears up for municipal elections at the end of the summer, Agudah MK Uri Maklev reflects on his own first foray into local politics

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

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Uri Maklev’s place is behind the scenes, where the regular folk who need his help are found. That’s what he’s been doing for the last three decades, and that’s what still pushes him to the limits (Photos: Lior Mizrahi)

It’s 1 a.m. and Mirsky Street in Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood is deserted. But in MK Uri Maklev’s living room — modest and simple, like its owner — it might as well be the middle of the day. It’s hard to imagine that he’s at the end of a stretch that began at six in the morning, although a collection of yellow Post-it notes on the table indicate that there are still issues that need to be dealt with after we’re done. That’s Maklev — his day doesn’t end until all the little Post-its are taken care of.

It’s a little tricky to cover MK Uri Maklev. On the one hand, this United Torah Judaism Knesset member is consistently rated as one of the most dedicated public servants by his Knesset peers, ranked number one in attendance and hours he puts into committee and plenum sessions.

On the other hand, the work that he prefers  — the seemingly thankless tasks of sitting on committees and dealing with the distress of the small citizen — isn’t what makes a politician’s life exciting, and it’s certainly not the sort of activity that attracts media attention. He makes sure to stay away from the lights and microphones that gravitate to soundbites and degenerate into shouting matches.

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“Kollek didn’t dream he’d be ousted.” As creator of Degel HaTorah’s Jerusalem city council slate, Maklev was the clincher that got Ehud Olmert into the mayor’s seat

His place is behind the scenes, where the regular folk who need his help are found. That’s what he’s been doing for the last three decades, and that’s what still pushes him to the limits.

You’d be hard-pressed to find another public figure who’s still working around the clock in service of the public after so many years. Looking at him, you’d think this is Maklev’s first week on the job — he still displays that same enthusiasm and endless energy as he attends to the small details of every request that lands on his desk.

That’s because, as he says, “It’s not about choosing between those who are more worthy or less worthy. The way I see it at least, every request is of utmost importance. I know that when someone comes to me with a problem, it’s the most pressing issue in his life. And you know, the majority of the laws or regulations actually originate from the public. When we deal with issues of private citizens, we turn them into wider solutions to benefit the public.”

For Maklev, it’s not just talk. In the current Knesset, he chairs the Science and Technology Committee and the Subcommittee for Road Safety, and he also chairs the Jerusalem Lobby, the Lobby for Encouraging and Improving Public Transportation, the Lobby for Empowering Citizens in the National Insurance Institute, and the Lobby for the Fight Against Gambling Addiction. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 712)

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