Jerusalem’s Ousted Deputy Mayor Says He is Being Persecuted


Eli Simchayoff, the Shas deputy mayor of Yerushalayim who was suspended from his post earlier this week is telling the media that Mayor Nir Barkat is persecuting him.

It has been three days since the mayor announced he is suspending the deputy mayor pending the outcome of the case against him, the indictment for alleged criminal activities in the Holyland case.

Simchayoff arrived in his office today, Thursday, 2 Shevat 5772 as if nothing happened, business as usual – at least that is what he thought. When he tried logging on to his computer, he realized that he had been shut out, password changed and he simply had no access.

He was nevertheless undeterred, phoning the city hall computer technician to ask “who gave the order to change my password”. He received a response and the next call went to Chaim Gabbai, head of human resources in City Hall. He promised to check into it.

It appears the deputy mayor then contacted Chadrei Chareidim, seeking to publicize his plight, playing the victim. He prefers to ignore the fact that he faces a criminal indictment in a major real estate scandal, and the mayor explained that if and when he is cleared of any wrongdoing, his desk awaits – however once indicted, he can no longer serve as a deputy mayor. Simchayoff however has a different perspective, explaining that he is innocent until proven guilty, and therefore, unless he is convicted, there is no reason that he cannot continue in his post.

Simchayoff maintains that the mayor is simply targeting him, telling Chadrei Chareidim “the mayor forgets he was elected by the public and just how he got into office.” He is quoted as adding that he was not suspended for legal reasons, but simply because the mayor wanted to find a way to oust him, and he did.

The report adds that just last week Simchayoff gave the mayor a legal opinion that stated he may continue in his post, even if indicted, and he may and should continue receiving his salary as a deputy mayor. Nevertheless, the mayor opted to ignore the opinion in favor of the legal opinion he received from the city’s chief legal counsel, instructing him to suspend the deputy mayor if indicted.

City Hall released a statement in response to the report, stating the mayor did not give the order to change the computer password, adding the mayor is not singling Simchayoff out for one reason or another. Officials explain the computer was blocked in keeping with standard operational protocol in City Hall, and the same is done for any employee that takes an unpaid leave.

It appears that as a result of the report to the media, his computer is now accessible once again.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)