Groups to set up ‘tent city’ protest outside Holyland

Demonstrators call for City Hall to convert unfinished Holyland to public property.

May 5, 2010 05:20
2 minute read.
The Holyland real estate project (Ariel Jerozolims

HOLYLAND 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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A campaign calling on Jerusalem’s municipal planning authorities to convert the unfinished sections of the Holyland housing project into areas for public use is about to move on to its second stage. The Hitorerut Yerushalayim (Wake Up Jerusalem) Movement, together with the Bezalel Art Academy and The Hebrew University Students Union have announced that they will set up a “tent city” on Sunday evening in the shadow of the south Jerusalem housing development, which has seen a long list of former municipality officials embroiled in a widening corruption scandal regarding the project’s initial construction planning.

“Now that we’ve found out that the Holyland project is not only a monster that blights the Jerusalem landscape but is also evidence of corruption in the planning and construction of Jerusalem, it’s time to fight to restore the land to the residents of the capital,” a statement from the demonstrators read.

“We, the young people who live in Jerusalem and suffer from the housing crisis currently facing the city, call on decision makers at City Hall and in the government to make the right move and convert the unfinished sections of Holyland into [property for] use by Jerusalem’s general public.”

Organizers have said that they would like to see the unfinished property converted into a public park, or ideally, affordable housing for students and young professionals. The first stage of the campaign began on Hitorerut’s Facebook page last week with a series of posters depicting Holyand’s massive spread of apartments and lone high-rise tower in various “creative” adaptations – including piles of excrement and a hand with its middle finger uplifted.

Stage two of the campaign is the creation of the tent city, and organizers told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that they hoped it would draw further attention to both the serious level of corruption the Holyland case has revealed in municipal planning affairs along with the severe housing crisis facing young Jerusalemites.

“Beyond the aspect of corruption, which is a serious problem, we hope to raise awareness of the fact that it’s nearly impossible for young people to find affordable housing in the city,” said Merav Cohen, a Hitorerut member and organizer of the campaign.

“And it’s completely relevant here,” she added, “because the prestigious projects that continue to go up around the city make it harder for young people to find affordable housing as they take up valuable public land and increase rent prices throughout the capital.”

Cohen also said that the image of young people living in tents outside of Holyland would hopefully drive home this reality, as the luxury condos inside the lavish complex would lend a significant contrast to the protest site.

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