This week in Jerusalem: Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs 482400

Mayor Nir Barkat made it clear that the city and the police will not tolerate any festive event intended to glorify or celebrate terrorists.

Meir Turgeman, one of the mayor’s deputies, wants to widen the scope of those eligible for the title of Yakir Yerushalayim (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Meir Turgeman, one of the mayor’s deputies, wants to widen the scope of those eligible for the title of Yakir Yerushalayim
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Opening the season
With less than two years remaining before the next municipal elections, candidates are beginning to launch their campaigns.
In recent weeks, Yossi Havilio, former legal adviser at the municipality, has made it clear that he is aiming to be the next mayor. Havilio has a hand in almost every legal case in the city involving critics of Mayor Nir Barkat’s positions and deeds.
From inside Safra Square, Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman hasn’t yet made it official, but in comments in private talks – which he makes no effort to prevent from being published – he has expressed his intention to vie for the mayorship.
Another deputy mayor, former mayoral candidate Moshe Lion, has recently announced that he is back in the arena. Lion, who in the 2013 race faced criticism that he had insufficient experience and knowledge about the city, says that now, after moving to the capital and becoming an active member of the council – and even a member of Barkat’s list and coalition – he is more than ready for the task.
Both Lion and Turgeman condition their candidacy on a Barkat decision not to run for a third term as mayor – an “au revoir” to Safra Square for a move to the Knesset. Both have made it clear that if Barkat does run again, neither will oppose him.
Trees for memorial
About four months since the terrorist shooting attack that took the lives of Levana Malihi and St.-Sgt. Yosef Kirma near Ammunition Hill in early October, trees were planted to honor their memory. A ceremony, the initiative of the Jerusalem Police, took place at the headquarters of Yasam, the special police unit in which Kirma served. Family members of the two victims were present.
In addition, because Malihi worked at the Knesset, a lemon tree, chosen by her family members, was planted her memory in the Knesset garden. Both planting ceremonies were timed to coincide with Tu Bishvat, marking the New Year for Trees and the birthday of the Knesset.
End of friendship
The Reut home for at-risk children is closing down and the 27 youths for whom this place was more than a home will be scattered in various institutions. At least eight of them, according to Reut management, will be sent back to their families – the same families that endangered them to such a degree that the welfare administration removed them.
For some 20 years, Reut has been taking care of hundreds of teenagers in the city who were molested, neglected or abandoned by their families. Formerly in Kiryat Hayovel, the Home moved a few years ago to a larger place in Malha, where it continued to be a harbor of safety and normality for these young people who had known until then only misery and suffering.
The reason for the closure is a budget shortage at the Welfare Ministry, which seeks alternative solutions for the youths – such as sending some of them to other institutions or back home.
Earlier this week, several concerned parties, mostly social activists in the city, decided to fight the decision of the ministry to close the institution. They resolved to try to gather funds to save Reut from being shut down.
No party
today In a joint municipality and police operation, a large tent illegally erected in the Isawiya neighborhood was dismantled on Tuesday morning. The tent was raised to host family members and guests invited to “celebrate” the release of a prisoner who had served time for carrying out acts of terrorism. Jerusalem police chief Yoram Halevy confirmed that the tent and the structure beside it were illegal. The tent, adjacent structure, furniture and carpets installed were all confiscated by the police. Mayor Nir Barkat made it clear that the city and the police will not tolerate any festive event intended to glorify or celebrate terrorists.
The mayor has requested that Aviad Friedman, head of the organization of community centers, dismiss the director of the Kiryat Hayovel local council and community center following the recent verbal attack on the neighborhood’s haredi community.
Yechiel Levy is known for his activities as the director of the most militant local council and community center in the struggle over the character of Shabbat in the public sphere in the city. Levy has been behind some of the controversial initiatives of the secular residents of Kiryat Hayovel – such as screening films on Shabbat in the center’s auditorium and similar activities. A few months ago, Levy decided to proceed with his plan to screen a movie on a Friday evening despite the written opposition of Barkat to the plan, which was requested by his haredi coalition members.
Levy has broad and strong support from the secular residents of the neighborhood, but pressure of the haredi members at city council has prevented most of the provocative Shabbat projects so far. On Monday, however, Levy apparently went one step too far;. In an interview on Army Radio he said that the “policy of the community center of Kiryat Hayovel under his management is to choke the haredim in the neighborhood and to keep on with activities on Shabbat in order to outrage them.”
Barkat wrote to Friedman that such lack of respect to a sector of the population by the management of a facility that is financed by all Jerusalem taxpayers harms the sensitive fabric of the city’s residents and couldn’t be tolerated, and therefore asked for Levy to be dismissed.
Jerusalem is growing
For the first time in recent memory, the area under the jurisdiction of the capital is set to expand – by 25 hectares – following a decision of the interior minister to approve a proposal that was originally presented in 2009. The newly added area, located in the southeast part of the city near Arnona, belonged to Kibbutz Ramat Rahel as an agricultural site and will now be zoned residential. The 2,000 housing units planned for the new “Slopes of Arnona” neighborhood should significantly increase housing availability of the city.
Worrying together
Some 250 residents heard the call of the Yeru- Shalem Forum and came on Tuesday night to hear the new threats facing the city’s pluralistic sector on the haredi-secular front. A few recent incidents in the public space – forbidding Hamifletzet bar to open and the Kiryat Hayovel community center from screening movies on Shabbat; the closing of the Barbur Gallery; the attempt to prevent a Shaon Horef festival event due to it being “inappropriate for Jerusalem’s holy character”; and more… all these, despite the differences between them, have once again raised the concern of non-haredi residents that they are losing ground to the haredi sector.
The last issue, in regard to the request of ministers Arye Deri and Ya’acov Litzman of the mayor – to establish a commission to check on the breaking of the status quo – completed the image, bringing the forum and a large portion of the public to feel that the many achievements of the past few years, in terms of an open Jerusalem for all (including lots of activities on Shabbat), is at stake.
The principle of the Yeru-Shalem Forum is that Jerusalem belongs to all its residents, and that instead of trying to get the other sectors to capitulate, there should be an understanding that coexistence between them is not just a possibility but a must. Accordingly, representatives of the religious and secular sectors, and even one haredi, addressed the public at the Ginot Ha’ir community center in the presence of members of city council. Toward the end of the meeting, as attendees split into working groups to compile a list of demands and ways to obtain them, Barkat – who during the meeting was much criticized for not being strong enough in facing the haredi sector’s growing demands – surprised the public and the organizers by actually showing up. He sat with residents and listened to their complaints, but when asked if he was aware of the bad feelings among the pluralistic public, answered that the concern was not founded on realities on the ground.
Deputy Mayor Itzhak Pindrus (United Torah Judaism) – who was not present and is considered the leading force in preventing venues opening on Shabbat – said in a phone conversation with In Jerusalem that he would be willing to listen to residents’ complaints, but that they should also be attentive to the unacceptable conditions in which hundred of thousands of haredim live in the city.