Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

More than 10,000 children from the South and their families have been hosted at Kiftzuba entertainment park since the start of Operation Protective Edge. (photo credit: Courtesy)
More than 10,000 children from the South and their families have been hosted at Kiftzuba entertainment park since the start of Operation Protective Edge.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A bid to stop the racial violence
The mayor and the board of the city council have decided to allocate NIS 50,000 of the city’s education budget to initiate a special program against racism in all the schools next year.
The decision was made following the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir two weeks ago and the increasing incidences of violence and vandalism against Arab residents by gangs of Jewish hooligans.
The program, called City without Violence, run jointly by the local police and the education administration at the municipality, is already being implemented in many cities across the country. It will be the framework through which the special anti-racism program will run. The program will not be dependent on the approval of any principal but will be imposed on all the schools.
However, the program may not provide a solution for the groups of Jewish adolescents who are not part of any educational institution but hang around mixed neighborhoods at night and attack Arabs. In that case, one of the proposals is to strengthen the link between local police and the neighborhood councils to prevent any more such incidents.
E. Jerusalem neighborhood watch
Following the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir allegedly by three Jews and the increase in cases of price-tag attacks on Arab property, residents of Beit Hanina are considering setting up a local patrol to protect themselves from Jewish rioters and bullies. This idea had been raised by residents of Silwan three years ago but did not materialize mainly because the organizers refused to coordinate their activity with the police.
Now residents of Beit Hanina and Shuafat, where Abu Khdeir lived, are returning to the idea. But this time they are not opposed to limited cooperation with the police.
Groups of young adults would patrol the neighborhood, mostly in the evenings and at night, including observers on the roofs of some strategic points, to monitor and prevent any “price-tag” action or intrusion of rioters in the neighborhood. These groups would only patrol and observe; but in the event of someone suspicious approaching, they would immediately call the police and not take any further action.
A source at the local police said that if it is coordinated with the police, they would have no objection.
Drops in the shops
One of the negative aspects of Operation Protective Edge – besides the more frightening ones – is the drop in sales in the city’s malls. It is interesting to note that the Mamilla Mall is apparently suffering the most from the drop. This is probably because a large part of its clientele are Arab residents.
Since the beginning of the hooligan attacks on Arabs in the city, following the murder of the three kidnapped yeshiva students last month, Arabs have become targets of gangs and have minimized their presence in the western part of the city.
“It should have been a great month,” said the owner of a clothing shop in Mamilla, “because of Ramadan and the end of the summer holiday. Last year, it was one of our peaks in income, but this year the customers have disappeared.”
Another reason for the significant drop in sales is, of course, the war in the South. Many Jerusalemites are mobilized as soldiers, and their families don’t feel like going shopping while their loved ones are fighting Hamas.
According to recent figures released by the Merchants’ Association, the drop in Mamilla is 70%; it is about 50% at Malha Mall; and the relatively new mall in Ramot had a 40% drop last week.
Bridging the gaps in education
Mayor Nir Barkat has a new initiative to improve the level of education in the city. It is not exactly the first solution that comes to mind, but Barkat is convinced that a lack of infrastructure is at the base of the gap between the different sectors of the city.
So for this initiative, a comprehensive program of building classrooms and schools where they are the most needed, will be planned and run by Moriah, one of the municipality’s auxiliary organizations.
The first two sectors that require the most attention in regard to additional classrooms, schools and other related structures are the Arab and the haredi sectors. However, even in the general stream of education, there is a significant need to add classrooms and other buildings.
The plan includes not only new construction but also better management of the existing structures and their allocation to those sectors in need, including change of purpose from one sector to another.
Tisha Be’av on the seam
The main event planned for the eve of Tisha Be’av this year (August 4) will be held at a location between the east and the west parts of the city – between the end of Mamilla Mall and Jaffa Gate. The event is sponsored and planned by Hitorerut B’yerushalayim. Deputy Mayor and head of Hitorerut Ofer Berkovitch will open the evening.
As in the past few years, the event will include a reading of the Book of Lamentations, followed by a conversation between Shmuel Pappenheim of the Eda Haredit and Dr.
Ruchama Weiss, lecturer on talmudic studies. The topic will focus on the many aspects of Israeli society today, the hatred of the “other” and the way we treat those who are different from us. The evening will end with a few guided tours of various places in the city, mostly on “seam” points, such as between the haredi and the general community and neighborhoods, the Arab neighborhood and the renewal in the city center. Participation is free, but advance registration is required (
Councillors on the light rail
Some city councillors from various parties have come up with an initiative to show the public that the light rail is safe to use. Following the violent events that took place in various neighborhoods and in the city center – riots by Arab residents and racist attacks by Jewish gangs – there has been a significant drop in the number of passengers on the light rail. Most of the drop is among residents of Pisgat Ze’ev, who are afraid to travel through the Arab neighborhoods of Beit Hanina and Shuafat after the riots, which are still going on. The number of Arab passengers is also decreasing. They are afraid of the Jewish hooligans who attack Arabs in various places, including the city center.
As a result, Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman asked his colleagues on the city council to join him in taking a few trips on the light rail through the two above-mentioned Arab neighborhoods as far as Pisgat Z’e’ev, to show residents that the line has become safe again and there is no reason not to use it. The directors and presidents of the boards of local neighborhood councils are also invited to take part in the initiative to give the residents of Jerusalem a personal example.
Birds are forever
The Jerusalem Bird Observatory continues its summer activities. Thus far, there have been no cancellations or changes in programs due to the situation. The internationally recognized observatory offers a wide range of activities, such as an introduction to bird watching.
Other activities include following wildlife photographer Amir Balaban for a movie about urban wildlife filmed in the city; a bird ringing demonstration with the researchers at the Bird Observatory; learning about the birds that pass through the city on their migrations; and taking part in a wild bug safari, a butterfly bonanza or becoming a nature detective for a short while – all adapted for children aged five and up, not to mention adults.
For details, email
Twitterature contest
Moise Benharosh, a Jerusalem poet and writer (in Spanish and Hebrew), was the winner of the Twitter World Cup, a competition launched by the Mifal Hapayis for short (very short) stories on Twitter. The story could not exceed 140 characters and had to fit into the Twitter mode of expression – short and precise but making sense. Benharosh wrote (loose translation): “A team with a fullback named Burhas and a liaison named Bolanio sounds like a story by Cortazar.” It is much shorter in Hebrew than in English, hence it won the prize – to which more than 5,000 people sent in Twitter stories.