This week in Jerusalem: Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs 372609

There is a stronger police presence in the city center, and patrols have been added in the Jewish and Arab neighborhoods, but incidents still occur.

Jerusalem light rail (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Jerusalem light rail
Hard time for the light rail Despite a significant drop in the number and severity of acts of violence in the city, 23 cases of stone throwing, four cases of spray painting and four cases of incendiary cocktails have been reported since the beginning of August, most of them along the route of the light rail. After the riots and violence that took place following the murder of the three Jewish teenagers and the Arab boy, Jerusalem became the battleground for Jewish and Arab gangs who, alternately, set the city center and the seam neighborhoods on fire.
Although the number and intensity of these acts diminished during the second half of the month, some areas are still sensitive. There is a stronger police presence in the city center, and patrols have been added in the Jewish and Arab neighborhoods, but such incidents still occur.
Last week, another Arab taxi driver was attacked (the fourth since the beginning of the riots). Three Jewish teenagers fired tear gas at him. The three were arrested and questioned by police and later released.
So far, the main agitators on both sides have not been arrested, but according to sources in the police and the municipality, there is a significant drop in the number of passengers on the light rail, mostly Arabs. However, there is no plan to discontinue its route. Firstly, due to the agreement between the company (CityPass) and the municipality; and secondly, for political reasons – the light rail is considered to be a major symbol of the reunification of the city.
Another link in the chain While the owners of Cinema City and some representatives on the city council are still arguing about whether the entertainment complex should be open on Shabbat (for the moment, it is not), a new player has come on the scene in the Reform cultural center of Beit Shmuel.
As of next week, the Orlando cinema chain will open a branch in Beit Shmuel, which will be open on Shabbat.
For the haredim, both on the city council and in the Eda Haredit community, this project is an unpleasant surprise and a real problem. Unlike Cinema City, which is built on a public plot and therefore requires the state representatives’ (i.e., the city council) approval to be open on Shabbat, Beit Shmuel is a private organization located on private property. Moreover, Beit Shmuel, which has also a guest house and belongs to the Reform movement, encourages cultural events held on Shabbat, hence it will operate the theater on Shabbat right from the start.
For some of the secular parties represented on the city council, the Beit Shmuel initiative seems like a real relief – a cultural venue open on Shabbat without having to involve the municipality, and it raises the ire of the haredim on the council. That is, unless the haredi activists on the Shabbat Committee decide to add this new venue to their demonstrations’ parkour.
Next stop, Hadassah Following the rejection of two objections to executing the next phase of the light rail, work to extend the first line to Hadassah Ein Kerem will begin shortly. The extension of the first line (also called the Red Line) on the city’s master plan for mass transportation will pass through Kiryat Hayovel, Ir Ganim and Kiryat Menahem before reaching the hospital. Another extension will be added to connect the two campuses of the Hebrew University, between Mount Scopus and Givat Ram. This line will also have a stop at Hadassah Mount Scopus.
As part of the improvement of the landscape along the line, 2,500 trees will be planted between Henrietta Szold Street in Kiryat Hayovel and Hadassah Ein Kerem.
With these two extensions, the first line of the light rail will be completed. Seven more lines are planned, to be completed by 2025.