This week in Jerusalem 430459

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Noam Chomsky (photo credit: REUTERS)
Noam Chomsky
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A friend in deed
On Monday, a park dedicated to the memory of Václav Havel, president of the Czech Republic, was inaugurated. A playwright, philosopher and statesman, Havel was a friend of Israel who resumed diplomatic relations between his country and Israel 25 years ago (after years of disconnection during the Communist regime).
Since then, relations between the two countries have deepened.
Every year in a cultural exchange, residents of Prague enjoy a Jerusalem festival in their city, while visits by Czech artists and theater performers add to Jerusalem’s cultural life. Antiwords, a play written by Havel, was part of the recent Czech week, which culminated with the inauguration of the park, located near Hebron Road.

Good neighbors
In facing the recent wave of terror attacks, some local initiatives have attempted to bring about a more peaceful turn of events. Residents of Abu Ghosh and Nataf held the first in a series of meetings on October 23. The participants, who included youth movement members, discussed the positive Arab-Israeli relations over the years and how to prevent them from deteriorating. An issue of concern for Abu Ghosh residents is the serious drop in business due to their Jewish neighbors’ fear of shopping in an Arab village. At the meeting, they discussed ways to overcome the fear.

Artists on display
Tomorrow (October 31), the Artists’ House, located near the Bezalel Academy’s School of Architecture, opens its new exhibition season. “Promenade,” a presentation by Yanai Segal on the top floor of the historical structure, includes works with paper, paintings, sculpture and large-scale chains. Also presented is an exhibition by Pearl Schneider, who was awarded the 2015 Osnat Mozes Painting Prize for a Young Artist. In addition, there are two video projects by Haim Ben-Shitreet on the theme of “Oriental Bavarian.” Curated by writer and artist Albert Suissa.
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Looking poverty in the eye
The hi-tech industry is usually associated with success, large profits and anything but a connection to poverty and unemployment. Well, no longer – at least according to a new project launched by the Shoulder To Shoulder organization.
The CAN2 convention will take place at the International Convention Center on November 2. The convention will enable encounters between social activists and Israeli hi-tech executives. The idea is to develop new approaches to solve the problem of poverty, especially among the younger generation. Mayor Nir Barkat will take part, alongside representatives of companies such as Plus Ventures, IATI, MindCet, SOSA and TeachForGood.

Better late than never
On October 22, the High Court of Justice ruled that the municipality would have to use the funds of Prazot solely for the purpose of purchasing apartments for residents entitled to public housing. Prazot, a company owned by the government and the municipality, was closed in 2013 due to lack of efficiency. Despite the fact that the money in the company’s bank accounts was originally earmarked for social housing solutions, the city council could not come to a clear decision on the matter.
The money – NIS 132 million, according to Prazot’s final reports – is still not being used for that purpose, while according to NGOs and the municipality’s welfare administration, there are some 8,000 families or singles who are eligible for social housing.
The Tzahor organization submitted an appeal to the High Court in March and obtained an encouraging response. The state, through Construction and Housing Ministry representatives, announced a new program to purchase Jerusalem apartments or renovate existing units. This will cancel the city council’s 2013 resolution to dismantle Prazot, and the money will be used for other projects.

Noam Chomsky virtually here
Less than a year ago, Prof. Noam Chomsky of MIT, a harsh critic of the State of Israel and Israeli society, was banned from entering the country after he visited Hezbollah representatives in Beirut.
Chomsky was set to deliver a keynote speech this week at the annual Bar-Hillel Colloquium of Jerusalem’s Van Leer Institute.
On October 22, the prestigious institute informed guests that Chomsky would not be participating.
Earlier this week, Van Leer announced that the conference would take place but with a slight modification: Chomsky, also a leading figure of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, would not be coming to Israel but would give his lecture via Skype. Not all members of the institute are happy about the somewhat problematic guest speaker, but “That is the decision of the director,” said one of the scholars.