This week in Jerusalem 406436

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

A view of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A view of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives.
Separate but friendly
The first lady of Cyprus, Andri Anastasiadis, accompanying her husband, the president, on an official visit, went to the Bible Lands Museum on Sunday. She saw several exhibitions, guided by museum director Amanda Weiss, and learned about the political situation of the region, from early history until the dawn of Christianity, and its effect on civilization.
According to sources at the museum, the guest was particularly impressed by the “By the Rivers of Babylon” exhibition, which chronicles the life of the Jewish exiles from Jerusalem after the city was destroyed.
Proud singers
The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus will give a concert at the YMCA on Monday at 8:30 p.m. It will be the first time that a gay choir from abroad will go on tour in the Middle East. The tour will start off in Jerusalem, where the concert will be presented to a Jewish, Christian and Muslim audience. The choir will sing a wide range of classic and popular music.
Established in 1982, The BGMC has 175 singers and is highly acclaimed for the quality of its performances.
The proceeds from the evening will go to the Open House in Jerusalem for social and community programs for the LGBT community.
Separate but not equal
After a few months of disagreements and tumultuous debates that led to a total freezing of activities, the Darom local council and its community centers will be dismantled by the municipality. The new board of directors of the council, which was formed after the elections in 2012 for that council (and five others in the city), has not been functioning for the past seven months, following the dismissal of its president, Yossi Saidov, by the representatives of the Katamonim part of the council.
The Darom council was established for Katamonim (het-tet), Rassco and Gonenim as a large council with various activities and community centers. But it seemed, almost from the start, that the new alliance didn’t work out, and the representatives of Katamonim were not satisfied with the plans and programs.
After the dismissal of Saidov, who has remained a council member, things did not improve. In fact, most of the community activities fizzled out. Last week, Mayor Nir Barkat decided to stop all the activities and to close the facilities owned by the municipality in those neighborhoods until a permanent solution is found.
Separate and very unfriendly
A new point of contention on the horizon? Arieh King, director of the Israel Land Fund, whose aim is to return properties held by Palestinians in east Jerusalem to Jewish hands, has won another court case. As a result, 12 Palestinian families who have lived for decades in properties that the ILF has proven to be Jewish property (the land was purchased only a few years ago, but nothing has been built on it by its Jewish owners) will have to leave their houses. The houses were built by Palestinians families over the years without any permit, and it is not clear whether they knew the plots belonged to Jewish owners.
King stated on his Facebook page that Jewish families will soon move into the houses, which are located in the Kafr Aqab neighborhood, beyond the security fence. King added that this is a first step toward building a new Jewish neighborhood there to ensure Jewish continuity in east Jerusalem.
Park landscape
Great news for young couples and families seeking relatively affordable housing solutions. The Interior Ministry’s District Planning and Building Committee last week approved the municipality’s plan to build a new neighborhood in Ir Ganim. The plan is one of a series promoted by Safra Square to implement “removal construction” in the southwest parts of the city – specifically Kiryat Menachem and Kiryat Hayovel.
This plan was already approved by the district committee last year (September 2014), and is considered a flagship for these kinds of housing projects. The new housing will be constructed between Hanurit and Costa Rica streets on an almost 5.3-hectare (13-acre) area – where three “shikun” (public housing) buildings already exist, comprising around 100 units altogether.
According to the new plan, 408 units will be constructed in two towers of 22 to 25 stories each, with two additional 12-story towers constructed above a new commercial center. In addition, it will include lots of public spaces, a few kindergartens, a synagogue and a community center. Alleyways and connecting paths between the buildings will take into consideration the neighborhood’s special topography, with sharp heights gaps from one street to the next.
The plan incorporates a new approach from the community point of view, in that first the new buildings will be completed and only then will residents move into them; at the third stage, the older buildings will be demolished to make space for community facilities. The project is part of the master plan for Kiryat Menahem and Kiryat Hayovel, and will serve as a model for further projects in other neighborhoods.
The next scandal
The Jerusalem Cinematheque’s has reversed its decision to include a documentary on the prison life of Yigal Amir, who assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. MK Hilik Bar, until recently a member of the city council and deputy Knesset speaker, requested it not be shown.
Bar raised the issue in the framework of the cinematheque being sponsored by the Culture and Sport Ministry and the municipality. In a letter addressed to Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev and Mayor Nir Barkat, Bar requested that both administrations warn the cinematheque that funding would be frozen if the film was not removed from the roster of its international film festival next month.
How green is my city
This past Tuesday, a long and important process realized its goal – as the Jerusalem center for recycling the capital’s garbage was officially inaugurated in the presence of Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabai and Mayor Barkat. Greennet launched what is now the country’s most modern and innovative recycling center at the Atarot industrial zone in north Jerusalem.
It is interesting to note that the company – Greennet – is jointly owned by two partners, one Arab – Mustafa Tkhuri, president of TECO; and one Jewish – Pinni Yaakoby, president of YSB.
Disney in Jerusalem
Walt Disney’s famous animation studios will produce a series of animations film for city televisions, through an initiative of the Jerusalem Development Authority. The JDA’s film and documentary project is investing NIS 12 million in the production of several films from across the world that will be produced in Jerusalem, adding to the capital’s economic and artistic renewal. One of the project’s aims is to sustain and develop the varied skills of professionals already residing in the city – among them scenery creators, filmmakers and additional professions related to animation and regular films.
A large part of the investment will go toward the technical infrastructure required to develop this industry here, both for cinema and television.