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When we tell someone, from the benefit of our experience, "Trust me, you're being naÃ¯ve," he or she often takes it as a compliment. But when a politician plays it naÃ¯ve, it is usually somewhat annoying - except in very rare situations when it is not an act.
Last week, Mayor Nir Barkat, during a trip to the US, met a few representatives of the American Congress, both Republican and Democrat. Barkat (he is our current naÃ¯ve politician, in case it is not clear) asked them to support his motion - in this case to renew an old decision - to transfer the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. A US embassy here would improve many things: create more jobs, generate more official occasions but, at the same time, probably cause more traffic jams - but let's not get too cynical. It is indeed a great idea. But if so, why hasn't it been done before?
Well, many people have thought of it before and it just didn't work - during both the Clinton and Bush administrations, which were staunchly pro-Israel. Israel now has - in politically correct terms - not the warmest relationship with the Obama administration. Thus this may not be the best time to seek support for such a move. But perhaps Barkat is genuinely naÃ¯ve. "Corridors" feels that no more should be said on this point, other than that the municipal spokesman couldn't resist the urge to publish a press release on the matter. Why not, after all?
THIS MUNICIPALITY, like others in the country, has property that belongs to it that is meant to serve the residents' needs. Usually, these structures are used by nonprofit organizations, kindergartens or other organizations the city deems worthy. A property on Rehov Koresh was allocated a few years ago to the PEF Clinic, a free dental facility for underprivileged children. The operation is staffed by volunteers, and its state-of-the-art equipment is bought with donor funds. The only thing the organization asked from the municipality was a location. Recently the donors offered to add a care unit, meaning a complete dentist's chair with modern equipment, but there is no room for it in the current facility. Naturally, the dentists thought they could obtain a long-empty wing of the building they use now, which also belongs to the municipality. According to director and founder Dr. Kahn, the municipality has been evasive for several months. In the meantime, the adjacent building has remained empty and the new chair unused and wrapped in plastic.
After a few delays, a delegation of high-ranking employees from the Welfare Department recently visited the clinic, was duly impressedâ€¦ and left with no encouraging news. "A decision has been made to use the building for young artists,"" said a high-ranking employee. "It is no secret that the mayor is eager to develop the city center through a wide range of artistic and youth activities, and that is exactly what he plans to do there - to create workshops for young artists, whom we all want to convince to stay in Jerusalem. This is a priority now."
Kahn responded that if the place was indeed intended for youth activities or any other important activity for residents, he wouldn't dare to complain. "The problem is that this place has been empty and neglected for so long, while we could use it in such an appropriate manner for the benefit of the children of Jerusalem who cannot afford quality dental care, or dental care at all, and that's a pity."
An official at the Arts and Culture Department confirmed that the building was slated to be transformed into a venue for workshops for young artists, adding, "Since the project is to turn this place into attractive artists' studios, it will take time until the work is completed." The official, who asked to remain anonymous, added that artists' workshops in the city center fit the mayor's vision more than a dental clinic for impoverished children. "It's not that we don't want to help such kids, it's just that there is a new atmosphere - Jerusalem has to be identified with success, not with poverty."