This week in Jerusalem 443879

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Deputy Mayor Tamir Nir, head of the city’s preservation committee (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Deputy Mayor Tamir Nir, head of the city’s preservation committee
Housing for haredim
Following the reshuffling at the Israel Broadcasting Authority, the building that housed IBA Television will be demolished, and four 12-story buildings will be erected on the site.
The new plan proposes 310 housing units for the haredi community. Two buildings will be designated for housing, and the other two will accommodate offices and stores. This is the first time in many years that a housing project is being promoted for the haredi sector, which, according to the haredi representatives on the city council, suffer from a severe lack of housing for young families.
When the IBA building was erected 47 years ago, the neighborhood was not haredi, but over the years there have been significant changes in the population. During that time, IBA employees who went to work on Shabbat were required to enter the compound through a side entrance and refrain from using the main gate, to respect the neighbors’ request.
Elections take one
The drama surrounding the elections for a new president of the municipality’s Workers’ Committee ended last week with a significant twist. Following pressure imposed on him, the current president, Zion Dahan resigned, and the elections were postponed for a week. Avichai Avraham was elected and, according to sources at Safra Square, there will be a change in the methods.
While Dahan was always careful about reaching an understanding between the committee’s interests and the municipality’s administration, it seems that the days of quiet and discreet negotiations are over. Avraham has made it clear that the interests of more than 8,000 employees cannot always be attained through a gentlemen’s agreement but in some cases may have to be accomplished through sanctions and perhaps even strikes. Time will tell.
Elections take two
Last week’s city council meeting about the Shabbat issues in the city was particularly stormy. The issue of mini markets being open on Shabbat and the struggle over the pluralistic character of Kiryat Hayovel were at the center of the council’s agenda. In retaliation for the decision of the Yuvalim local council and community center in Kiryat Hayovel, the haredim requested that all Yuvalim administration and board members be dismissed.
At the end of the session, the council voted to set a date for the elections of a board at Yuvalim, which had never held elections, for fear that the haredi residents would come well organized and take over the administration of the neighborhood council.
The elections will be held in June, and both sides are preparing for it.
Saving grace
Legendary Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek is still remembered and revered.
The city’s preservation committee, headed by Deputy Mayor Tamir Nir (Yerushalmim), decided last week that Kollek’s house in Rehavia would be classified as a landmark building. This is an interesting decision, as the structure itself has no particular historical or architectural importance, except for its famed occupant. The decision was made following a request submitted by Kollek’s children, who had grown up in the house.
To that end, Nir invoked one of the international rules of preservation, which states that if there are no architectural reasons to warrant preservation, a historical link – such as the house belonging to a well-known personality – can justify preservation.
The decision doesn’t mean that additions cannot be made to the existing structure, but they would have to be done according to the rules of preservation.
Zionism vs BDS
At a recent meeting at the Begin Heritage Center presided over by Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, a program to counter anti-Zionism and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement was presented to the public.
Four hundred attendees heard about the various expressions of anti-Zionism (which the World Zionist Organization includes as a form of anti-Semitism) and the proposed ways to fight back. A cyber center, new toolboxes, training of hundreds of young emissaries and a project to open at least 100 Hebrew classes in Jewish communities across Europe and the US were among the many proposals presented.
Some of the projects were accepted following the findings of an extensive survey conducted by the WZO and presented at the meeting by its deputy president, Yaakov Haguel. According to the survey, 59 percent of Israelis are afraid to travel abroad; 65% conceal any sign of being Jewish and/ or Israeli; 25% fear another Holocaust; and 24% are not sure that Israel will continue to exist.
ZAKA at the United Nations
As of this month ZAKA, the organization founded by Yehuda Meshi-Zahav during the second intifada to rescue and recover victims of terrorist attacks, has become a recognized organization by the United Nations.
ZAKA will be now an official consulting and observer agent at the UN. In 2009 the UN recognized ZAKA as an international organization, a non-governmental body that works within the framework of the UN Constitution.
That was not an easy feat to achieve. Twice in the past few years the UN rejected ZAKA’s application and, instead, recognized a rescue organization controlled by Hamas.
But now the change has finally come, and a UN committee comprised of 19 countries, including Iran, Sudan, Pakistan and Turkey, has agreed to recognize ZAKA.