Teddy Kollek’s legacy
Teddy Kollek’s impact on Jerusalem as its mayor for 28 years was immense. When he won his first mayoral election in 1965, Jerusalem was a backward, provincial and divided town. Two years later, the stunning victory of the Six-Day War provided him with a golden opportunity to reshape the city — with the historic Old City at its heart. His skill lay in mobilising other people to contribute their money and names to theatres, concert halls and artists’ colonies; parks, outdoor museums and urban landscapes. The Jerusalem Foundation funded education in its widest sense. The Teddy Stadium, the only building named after him — and his first name at that — reflected his own love of healthy outdoor activity, and it was commissioned in the face of opposition from religious conservatives, who feared that sporting events would violate Shabbat. In fact, his major political backing came from the Arab population of East Jerusalem. Their abstention from the 1993 election caused his first and final defeat. But his insistence on being available to all and giving everyone their due has bequeathed to Jerusalem a lasting legacy of political balance and sound urban thinking.