Ex-Jerusalem mayor marks anniversary of his city Teddy Kollek honored by Schmoke, Townsend

November 01, 1995|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,SUN STAFF

The "greatest mayor in the world" visited the Baltimore area yesterday and talked about the difficult job of leading his divided city, Jerusalem, through periods of war and internal turmoil.

"Being mayor is difficult. Being mayor of a historic city is more difficult," said Teddy Kollek, who served seven four-year terms. "Being mayor of a mixed city is most difficult."

Mr. Kollek ran a city of more than 500,000 that was majority Jewish and about 29 percent Arab. He noted that the divisions ran even deeper, with 104 Jewish groups, a diverse Arab community and four Christian denominations.

Mr. Kollek made his remarks in a speech before more than 350 people at the Gordon Center for the Performing Arts in Owings Mills in Baltimore County. He was there to help the Baltimore Jewish Council kick off its "Jerusalem 3000" celebration, marking the anniversary of King David declaring the historic city the capital of his kingdom.

The 84-year-old Mr. Kollek was known as a flamboyant mayor, who stood between angry mobs of Jews and Palestinians to keep peace, and kept a listed home telephone number. He was defeated in his bid for an eighth term in 1993.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke was among his admirers last night.

"I have a daunting task," Mr. Schmoke said from the podium as former Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer looked on from the second row. "I have seated before me the greatest mayor in the United States, William Donald Schaefer. And I have seated here beside me the greatest mayor in the world."

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend called Mr. Kollek her hero. "He got people to work shoulder to shoulder on common problems and he got people working together in peace," she said.

Mr. Kollek said he was proud of the legacy of his city and country, saying Jews can trace their heritage thousands of years to the Holy City and that his countrymen have prevailed against enormous odds to build Israel into a strong nation.

But he also said more has to be done to help the Palestinian minority, whose lives, he said, have improved in recent years with running water and reduced infant mortality rates.

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