This week in Jerusalem 481713

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs.

Jerusalem’s legendary Tamir bookstore chain is joining the Steimatzky chain (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Jerusalem’s legendary Tamir bookstore chain is joining the Steimatzky chain
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Jerusalem of chastity One
of the scheduled events at this week’s Shaon Horef Cultural Festival, the Angelmayer show Shushka, which includes some nudity, has outraged religious representatives at city council – to the point that councilman Arieh King (United Jerusalem) resigned on Tuesday from the coalition. Despite the protestations leading up to the show, city legal adviser Elie Malka ruled on Sunday that there is no legal reason why the municipality, which is financing the festival, should interfere in its content, so the program – scheduled to take place twice this month – proceeded as planned on Monday evening.
In his letter to Mayor Nir Barkat, King accused him of bearing the responsibility for desecrating the holiness of Jerusalem. King’s partner on the list, Hagit Moshe, hasn’t joined him and has remained on the coalition. However, now that she comprises a one-person list, it is not clear if Barkat will keep her in her position.
Not a storybook ending
Jerusalem’s Tamir bookstore chain has reached its end as an independent concern and is joining the Steimatzky chain. Founded in the capital some 60 years ago, Tamir managed to remain independent with a local flavor. However, the tremendous financial capacities of the two largest and most powerful book store chains, which are also publishers, finally overwhelmed Tamir.
According to the conditions signed by both sides, all of the employees of the purchased chain will be employed by Steimatzky – albeit not necessarily with the same conditions. All existing locations of Tamir Books will continue to function for now, but there is no long-term commitment in this regard.
And the winner is…
While Mayor Barkat’s unpopular campaign for additional funds from the government angered residents – as well as of some of his coalition members – one person who kept a strategic silence won the big prize. Deputy Mayor Moshe Lion, officially still the haredim’s candidate for the next election (unless Barkat decides to run a third time) has been designated to represent the municipality at the joint commission with the Treasury addressing the issue.
This week, Lion began meeting with the chief Treasury representative and members of the special commission appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end the strike. Lion, once the CEO of the Prime Minister’s Office, knows most of the people there.
Sources at Safra Square say that this is the first time that Lion has been positioned so conspicuously as the eventual replacement for Barkat.
New guys in here
There are two new municipal appointments – for the culture and for the welfare and community departments.
The new head of the culture administration is a woman, reflecting the mayor’s pledge to appoint as many women as possible to the highest municipal ranks. Ariella Rajwan, acting director of the department for more than a year, replaced Yossi Sharabi, who moved to the Culture and Sport Ministry under minister Miri Regev.
In the welfare and community administration, the retired Bonni Goldberg has been replaced by a young man. New appointee Gil Ribush lacks a degree in social work, which has always been a prerequisite for this position, and his appointment was attacked by some of the feminist groups in the city, who argued that several women were better candidates.
Emergency, here we are
An emergency gathering of city residents is scheduled to take place on February 21 at the Ginot Ha’ir community center on Emek Refaim Street.
The repeated attempts of haredi representatives at city council to prevent cultural and community events on Shabbat, recent moves to prevent cultural events considered to conflict with Jerusalem’s religious character, the rising tension between haredi and secular residents in Kiryat Hayovel and more – all these have led the YeruShalem Forum to rally secular and religious non-haredi representatives. On the agenda is the perceived aggravation of relations between the sectors.
Much of the concern comes from what the forum regards as the willingness of Mayor Barkat to give in to the growing demands of haredi representatives in his coalition regarding Shabbat events.
On the other side of the fence, the haredi city council representatives were summoned last week to Negev and Galilee Development Minister Arye Deri’s office.
There, in the presence of Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, they were asked to be more active in promoting the issues that concern the capital’s haredi sector – housing, educational institutions, budgets and the struggle to do more to save Shabbat in the public sphere.
Sources at Safra Square say that all of these activities are a sign of the beginning of the next election campaign.
Mayor’s speech
Barkat opened the second day of the 14th Jerusalem Conference, held this week at the city’s Crown Plaza Hotel under the sponsorship of Arutz 7. Barkat complimented the prime minister on his firm stance for the sake of Jerusalem, and announced that as of now – hinting at the new administration in the White House – the construction freeze on city neighborhoods beyond the Green Line was over.
Barkat added that he recently heard from local Arab leadership in the eastside neighborhoods about the willingness of the Arab residents to open a new era in relations with the Israeli side.
“They tell me clearly that the Left doesn‘t represent them and that what they wish for is not to be sent back beyond a new fence [security barrier],” he concluded.
Low pensions
Lower salaries in the capital, compared to those in the country’s Center and more specifically in the Tel Aviv region, have a heavy impact on the future of Jerusalem’s residents. According to Bank of Israel data, the pensions of Jerusalemites are lower by 50%, at least compared to Tel Aviv residents. Additional findings show that Jerusalemites accumulate just NIS 409,000 in their working years – compared to some NIS 820,000 in Tel Aviv, a fact that has a significant impact on the level of Jerusalemite’ pensions once they retire from work.
According to the data, each 100 kilometers away from Tel Aviv results in 15% less in income – affecting Jerusalemites just like Israelis living in any other periphery region.
Education on the east side
A Knesset education commission request of the Education Ministry and the municipality’s education administration may perhaps, at long last, bring some much-needed order and the minimal conditions needed for a significant improvement in the education system beyond the security barrier.
MK Yehudah Glick (Likud) is the man behind the initiative, stating that “we all have a great interest in ensuring the best education to all the residents of Jerusalem” (with a hint at the city’s Arab population). Glick called upon the ministry to invest what is necessary in order to ensure the construction of the hundreds of classrooms still lacking in neighborhoods like Semiramis and Kafr Akab (both beyond the barrier).
It is worthy noting that the mayor declared he is willing to take NIS 1 billion for the construction of 1,000 (out of the 3,800 lacking) city classrooms – mostly in the haredi and Arab sectors.