Grapevine: Trains of thought

Residents of the capital’s German Colony, Baka and Katamon are still waiting for a final decision as to whether the Jerusalem Light Rail will run through the German Colony’s Emek Refaim.

September 29, 2018 22:39
Grapevine: Trains of thought

The Jerusalem light rail celebrated the 50th anniversary of the capital city’s reunification last summer by decorating its trains with Israeli flags and banners.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

While Jerusalemites are still bemoaning the snags that occurred last Tuesday with the launching of the express train from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv – which so far goes no further than Ben-Gurion Airport – residents of the capital’s German Colony, Baka and Katamon are still waiting for a final decision as to whether the Jerusalem Light Rail will run through the German Colony’s Emek Refaim. Outgoing Mayor Nir Barkat was adamant that the light rail should run through the charming neighborhood street, and a few of the locals agreed with him. But there was also a strong opposition and there still is.

Supporters of the plan have organized a panel evening for Monday, October 2, at Beit Yehudit, 12 Emek Refaim, with the participation of three leading mayoral candidates in the upcoming election: Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin , Hitorerut leader and former deputy mayor Ofer Berkovitz and Deputy Mayor Yossi Daitch. The panelists will each present their vision for public transportation in the neighborhood in particular, and throughout Jerusalem in general.

Showing up in force and wearing their identical T-shirts as a sign of unity, especially in the face of a photo opportunity, will be members of Amutat Refaim Bamoshavot, chaired by Prof. Ariel Hirschfield , who are vehemently opposed to the light rail going through their neighborhood. The arguments for and against have been going on for more than two years, with a variety of alternative plans being put forward. But there has been no consensus on any of them. The nearby First Station, with its profusion of eateries, has taken a lot of business away from the restaurants and coffee shops of Emek Refaim, and opponents to the light rail plan fear that the situation will deteriorate even further during the construction process, which could take up to 10 years to complete. During this period, the value of all properties in the area will be reduced, and it will be difficult to sell apartments. Aside from all that, opponents believe the establishment of a light rail in Emek Refaim will ruin the character of the street and will not be of any real benefit to anyone.

■ COINCIDENCE is one of those strange phenomena that often defy explanation. During the Second World War, Germany and Italy were the key Axis powers in Europe fighting the soldiers of the Allied armies. Of course, much water has flown under the bridge since then, and former enemies, regardless of crimes their citizens may have committed against humanity, have become, if not exactly friends, at least partners in diplomatic endeavors, scientific research and the fight against terrorism. Nonetheless, it is an interesting coincidence that on the very date that Italian Ambassador Gianluigi Bennedetti will be conferring his country’s Gold Medal for Military Valor on The Jewish Brigade, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and members of her government will arrive in Israel. The Jewish Brigade was the independent Jewish military unit that fought the Nazis in Italy under the banner of the British Army and was composed primarily of Jews from British Mandate Palestine. After the war, some of the members of the Jewish Brigade were active in assisting the illegal immigration of Holocaust survivors to the Land of Israel, and later fought in the War of Independence. Very few members of the Jewish Brigade are still living. Among the veterans who are still alive are people in their mid to late 90s. The ceremony will take place at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, October 3, at the Battalions Museum on Moshav Avihayil.

■ WORKING IN different time zones can often be a frustrating experience. KAN Public Broadcasting Corporation political reporter Gili Cohen , who traveled to New York with Netanyahu, is a very thorough reporter who often gets information that somehow bypasses her colleagues in other media. It may be just a tiny detail which is seemingly insignificant, but it adds depth to her report. She stayed up late on Wednesday night in New York to deliver an early morning report to Reshet Bet. But modern technology got in the way, and she was interrupted by anchor Ar ye Golan on almost every subject she touched upon. It wasn’t that he was being rude or over-bearing. It was simply that recordings of all the issues of importance had already been broadcast in Israel in real time, and he kept saying, “We’ve already had that.” Cohen must have wondered, under the circumstances, why she had been sent to the Big Apple at all.

■ AMERICA’S FIRST Lady Melania Trump hosted a reception at the US Mission to the United Nations for the wives of world leaders attending the UN General Assembly, and the guest list of course included Sara Netanyahu , who together with her husband had hosted the Trumps in Jerusalem.

Also present at the reception were Karen Pence , the wife of the US vice president, and Susan Pompeo , the wife of the US secretary of state. Although Sara Netanyahu wore a smart classic ensemble, green is not really her color, and whoever advises her on fashion these days should be urging her to stick to soft pastels. The pale pink jacket she wore when boarding the plane in Israel was much more flattering to her complexion.

Pink, in almost any shade, is actually her color, though she looks good in black as well.

■ MEDIA REPORTS on violence in the Breslov Synagogue in Mea She’arim on Yom Kippur and Sukkot, between supporters and opponents of Rabbi Eliezer Berland – who spent time in prison for committing sex offenses against some of his followers – placed ultra-Orthodox Jewry in general in a bad light. The reputations of many have been sullied by the actions of a few – well actually not so few, taking into account how many people were involved. The wild brawl in which people were injured and blood was shed erupted inside the sanctuary on the holiest day of the year. Berland committed grievous crimes, and under the circumstances, it’s difficult to say that he paid his debt to society, because even if he is now contrite, which he doesn’t appear to be, the only people who can forgive him if at all are his victims. But putting that aside, what right does anyone have to prevent a Jew from praying in a synagogue.? Perhaps one day he will repent. But with so many louts dressed in the garb of the pious desecrating the sanctuary because of him, how could he expect anyone to believe him even if he finally said he was sorry? And how can the people who engaged in what was the nearest thing to a pogrom call themselves religious? This was not just a crime against humanity, it was a crime against religion. Hopefully by Simhat Torah they will have come to their senses and will not stage a repeat performance.

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