(JNi.media) Nazareth Mayor Ali Salem, who last week ruined the Channel 2 News interview with Ayman Odeh chairman of the Knesset Joint Arab List, is still furious. “Every Saturday we get our 20 thousand guests—Jews, tourists and Israelis from across the country,” he told Ma’ariv Saturday night. “This Saturday we barely reached 1,000 people from out of town.”
Salem did not want to call what goes on in this city these days a “catastrophe” (which, in Arabic, is Nakba, a word that dates back to the war of 1948-9)—he prefers to maintain his optimism. “For three days we had complete quiet,” he continues. “No politicians arrived and they didn’t riot or strike or demonstrate. Therefore I believe, as early as next Saturday, if the quiet will be maintained, everyone will return. Businessmen I spoke to today were pleased, not because no one visited them for a month, but because they manage to rebuild the ruins they (the politicians) left us in the city,” he said.
“There were even smiles, even though the shops were empty. Everyone knows that if the quiet continues, everything will fall into place. We are built to absorb every Saturday 20 thousand and sometimes 30 and even 50 thousand, just come, Jews, Arabs and Christians. Send your Saturday here, shopping and touring. There’s a lot to see.”
Salem stresses the importance of the economy in his city. “If you are strong in trade, in the economy, you are strong in everything. Why am I fighting against any carpetbaggers who come to us to get their cut? Everyone shouts coexistence, and I shout existence and coexistence. Let us support the city. Let the traders make a living, let Nazareth have a livelihood. We’ve had two rarely prosperous years in this city, until the riots. Now we need to rebuild everything. Quietly, with colors, with sights, with smells.”
Salem optimistic but also concerned. “I walk around town and see what’s going on here, so no one can come to teach me how to make a city beautiful, strong and clean. Everyone has heard and seen me, they all know what I think, therefore I am not going to talk any more to the media…