The holy city's durable mayor, Teddy Kollek, is no stranger to angry constituents, but religious mavericks in the old Mea Shearim quarter have given new meaning to fighting city hall.
Neturei Karta, an ultraorthodox group of Hassidic Jews who abhor Zionism and refuse to recognize the Israeli state because the Messiah has not come, said today it is going to put a spell on Kollek in a 700-year-old cabalistic ceremony.
Rabbi Moshe Hirsh, the eccentric spokesman for Neturei Karta, said black candles will be lit and a black shofar, or ram's horn, will be sounded to bring down on Kollek every curse "from Moses unto the present" to help defeat a proposed sports stadium in north Jerusalem.
Wall posters printed in red have begun to appear in Mea Shearim, urging Kollek to "repent while you still can . . . You are committing suicide."
"History has shown the spell to the quite effective," said Hirsh in an interview, citing two cases in modern times when Israeli politicians purportedly met an early demise after the spell was cast.
One, Hirsh said, was former Jeruasalem Mayor Gershon Agron, who died in 1955 after an ultraorthodox ecclesiastical court condemned him for building a municipal swimming pool for both men and women in Jerusalem's German Colony. The wall posters say Agron "paid with his life and has since been forgotten."
Also, Hirsch said, a municipal official who ordered the relocation of a temporary burial ground after the 1948 war was hexed with a similar spell. The man and his wife died in a house fire the next day, Hirsch said.
Neturei Karta, which claims 1,000 members, long has been at odds with Jerusalem city hall, and the national government of Israel as well.
If Kollek is concerned about Neturei Karta's spell, he is not showing it. He said he expects Neturei Karta "one day will be forgotten" and noted that a large majority in the Knesset, or parliament, has endorsed the proposal.
But the proposed Olympic-sized sports stadium, also has been opposed by some modern religious Jews who say it will disturb the Sabbath atmosphere in Jerusalem. An estimated 25,000 persons joined the black-frocked Hassidim in a protest march last month, carrying signs declaring, "Kollek: Take your stadium to Mount Olympus, where Greek culture is welcome." CAPTION: Picture, Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek campaigning last year. AP