This week in Jerusalem 454417

Peggy Cidor's round-up of city affairs.

Benjamin Ze'ev Herzl (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Benjamin Ze'ev Herzl
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Herzl day
Special attention will be given this year to the visionary Theodor Herzl, on the occasion of the 146th anniversary of his birthday, as well as celebrating 120 years since the publishing of his landmark book, The Jewish State.
In addition to the traditional ceremonies held (on May 18) at the Herzl Museum and at his grave on Mount Herzl, no fewer than 600 volunteers of all ages from across the country who work toward a better society on the Zionist basis of his book, were invited to gather and listen to lectures on various aspects of today’s Zionism.
Dividing Jerusalem
Looking toward Jerusalem Day on June 5, various tolerance organizations have advanced plans attempting to prevent predominantly religious youths marching inside the Old City’s Muslim Quarter with Israeli flags from disturbing Arab residents, as has occurred in past years. Beyond these private initiatives, there has also been a political step via Hitorerut at the city council, with Deputy Mayor Ofer Berkowitz at its helm, to change the path of the march inside the Muslim Quarter.
Even before Berkowitz’s proposal had been considered, strong opposition was raised from the Bayit Yehudi bench, with councilman Dov Kalmanovich accusing Berkowitz of “dividing Jerusalem de facto.”
Kalmanovich expressed concern that changing the circuit of the traditional flag dances in the streets of the city – which passes through the Muslim Quarter on the way to the Western Wall – is no less than an official declaration from the Israeli side that it is renouncing this part of the city.
If you go away
Reshuffling of the Israel Broadcasting Authority – take two.
After it had been agreed upon by the government that the new IBA corporation would continue to operate from the capital in accordance with the law, a new decision to move the offices and studios out of Jerusalem has altered the situation. This time, the proposal is to relocate even farther away – to Modi’in (previously it was to Lod), requiring about 2,000 employees to commute, move with their families, or find another job.
But this time, the reaction at Safra Square has been a rather tough one. Mayor Nir Barkat, together with his coalition, has appealed the government’s decision at the High Court of Justice.
“A moment before Jerusalem Day, the decision to move the IBA out of the city is a real blow to the capital, besides breaking the law – and we will fight it,” declared Barkat upon submitting his appeal.
Paragraph Five of the Israel Broadcasting Authority Law says the organization’s offices have to be situated in the capital, and must broadcast from it.
The mayor already sent an urgent letter on that matter to the prime minister last week, but since it seems it hasn’t had any impact thus far, Barkat decided to go to court, backed by most coalition members.
Growing up
Shaare Zedek Medical Center has obtained a municipality permit to add 300,000 square meters to its present building (currently at 100,000 sq.m.).
This large-scale upgrade will include hotels (accommodation solutions for families of those hospitalized), commercial areas, a big parking lot and dorms for medical center students and staff. In a meeting held in the first week of May, the local planning and construction committee debated all the objections to the plan, finally approving the necessary construction permits to allow work to begin. The project is part of the “Jerusalem Development 2020” funding and planning initiative recently proposed by Mayor Barkat, with a large portion of funding granted to health and science research projects such as this one.
The project will include three new buildings, a new entrance and exit to and from the present hospital, as well as a large pedestrian alley leading to the new main entrance. Most of the additional constructions will be on the present Beitar soccer field nearby, which was sold last year by the club for this project.
Young scientists
The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair – the world’s largest international pre-college science competition – held last week in Phoenix, Arizona, has given birth to two prestigious prizes for young Israelis, one of them a student of Jerusalem. Roey Ya’akobson, a student of the city’s Center for Excellence through Education/ Israel Arts and Science Academy High School, received the prize from the American Mathematical Society. The two students were part of the Young Scientist competition held each year by the Bloomfield Science Museum, with the support of the Israel Academy of Sciences and the Humanities and the Intel Society, and is part of research and development efforts promoted by the EU.
One more prize
In a ceremony that traditionally concludes Education Week events, the Education Prize has been awarded this year to the Alyn Orthopedic Hospital and Rehabilitation Center’s school for disabled children and youth.
The hospital and school are key elements of one of the most advanced rehabilitation centers in the country for the disabled, providing care in the most progressive and innovative ways.
The prize was awarded for the school’s achievements in implementing a multicultural teaching approach.
Take the blue train
The light rail is coming to the German Colony, and not everyone is happy about it.
At a meeting held by the Ginot Ha’ir local council on May 18, all information regarding the project was given to residents in attendance. Local council director Shayke El-Ami explained that the project might take about two years of work, during which traffic changes will be adapted to the needs of the residents according to the advancement of the work.
A first plan, which could negatively impact some 400 meters of Mesila Park, has been already rejected – but there is no way the work won’t, in some ways, affect residents’ daily life. However, he added, every step will be taken in full cooperation with the residents, and thus their participation at the meetings is crucial.