THIS WEEK IN JERUSALEM: Tension in Kiryat Hayovel

Expressions of anger and shock over the desecration came from local organizations as well as politicians who visited the site immediately after the police began their investigation.

Looking south along the Kidron valley from the northern end of the City of David. (photo credit: IAN SCOTT/FLICKR)
Looking south along the Kidron valley from the northern end of the City of David.
(photo credit: IAN SCOTT/FLICKR)
Tension in Kiryat Hayovel
Residents of Kiryat Hayovel active in a local association whose aim is to develop an open dialogue between different communities have begun to raise money for the renovation of Siah Yisrael, the synagogue that was desecrated during the night between Monday and Tuesday earlier this week.
Expressions of anger and shock over the desecration came from local organizations as well as politicians, including Mayor Moshe Lion, who visited the site immediately after the police began their investigation.
Tensions between secular and religious (mostly haredi) residents in the neighborhood have heightened over the years. Attempts to impose religious rules in the public sphere, growth in the number of haredim moving into the neighborhood, mostly because of its affordable housing, accompanied by a growing demand for haredi kindergartens and schools, have strained the atmosphere.
Siah Yisrael is a synagogue attended by olim from France, and is dedicated to the victims of the massacre perpetrated by a French Muslim in the Jewish school in the city of Toulouse in March 2012, which took the lives of four Jews. 
Never on Shabbat
Emek Shaveh is an NGO that monitors archeological activities “to protect ancient sites as public assets that belong to members of all communities, faiths and peoples.” The group protests against what they see as efforts by Israel to make the remains of the past a political tool in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 
One focus of interest of the NGO is the City of David, the archaeological site near the Old City that is considered the original urban core of ancient Jerusalem. 
Earlier this week, Emek Shaveh asked the Jerusalem District Court to rule that the City of David Park should be open on Shabbat, arguing that closing its access on Shabbat violates the rights of Arab residents in the area to enjoy it on weekends. Since the Ir David Foundation (commonly known as Elad) that operates the site is a religious group, they do not operate on Shabbat or Jewish holidays. 
Emek Shaveh argues that as part of the Nature and Parks Authority, whose sites countrywide are all open on Shabbat, Ir David should also be.
Elad has been given two months to respond. 
New posting?
As many as 1,000 employees of the Israel Postal Company may have to leave the capital within a few weeks, due to management’s decision to transfer its offices to Modi’in. 
The matter was on the agenda in the recent mayoral election; all candidates pledged to try to prevent the move. As most of the employees have families, this could cause something of an exodus from of the city, or an unfortunate worsening of working conditions. 
Postal Company management says the reason for the move is the lack of affordable office space in the city. The employees’ committee says the matter is in the hands of the mayor, who can find a way to ease the rental fees or grant a significant drop in city taxes. Mayor Moshe Lion has yet to make a strong commitment to resolving the affair, so the employees have turned to city councilman Ofer Berkovitch (Hitorerut) who heads the opposition at the council. Berkovitch declared that he will raise the issue at city council.
Once is enough
History is being made in a public space in city center. The municipality has authorized a stand for a tefillin ceremony by the Women of the Wall at the plaza by the intersection of King George and Ben Yehuda Streets. The authorization was given without any opposition of the haredim at city council, as part of the international event in honor of the tefillin tradition, organized by Chabad. Sources among the haredi representatives say that this is a one-time permit, not one granted on a permanent basis. Women of the Wall have requested such a permit several times but have been rebuffed. 
Breaking the silence?
Is the renovation of the old mosque at the entrance to the Old City’s Jewish Quarter a provocation or simply a normal step taken by a Muslim community to reuse a prayer site? 
The mosque has been neglected since the end of the Six Day War, but Arab residents of the Old City are renovating it to resume its use. According to sources, Turkish money and involvement are behind this initiative, and it is raising a lot of concern and anger among Jewish Quarter residents. 
Beyond renovations inside the building, there was also illegal construction on the roof and a new room was built. This illegal addition has already been demolished by the municipality, but residents fear that a muezzin will soon start blaring loudly amplified calls for prayers five times a day, including before dawn, disrupting the calm and significantly harming their quality of life. 
Turning to the Anglos
City council member Elad Malka (Hitorerut) has decided to run in the Likud primaries. Malka, who is the man behind the Transportation Ministry’s decision to break the Egged monopoly in the city, is a longtime member of the Likud. During his five years on the city council, he has been intensively involved in several aspects of improving public transportation in the city, including issuing a tender for private bus companies to develop no fewer than 44 new lines, and also the ministry’s decision to open the way for private taxi companies to run new lines – with some of them predicted to run also during weekends.
Last week, Malka opened a direct line to Anglo residents for a Q&A session to reach out to this community. He has been a very influential member of Hitorerut, and while – for the moment – he is the only one running in the primaries, he is not the only Likud member of Hitorerut. Malka is running in the slot reserved for the young generation in the party.
Whether or not he succeeds in moving from Safra Square to the Knesset this time, Malka is far from being the first council member to attempt to do so. Many members have preceded him, including from Shas and Agudat Yisrael.