This week in Jerusalem: End of service

A weekly round-up of city affairs.

 TACTICAL URBANISM: New bike paths. (photo credit: ERICA SCHACHNE)
TACTICAL URBANISM: New bike paths.
(photo credit: ERICA SCHACHNE)

End of service

After more than three years of vandalism, the municipality is finally suing the Bar-Ilan Street protesters for millions of shekels. Last week, the city’s legal administration filed more than 15 civil lawsuits against haredi protesters who have allegedly damaged the road and the heavy equipment needed for the construction of the light rail tracks, amounting to more than NIS 5 million in damages. “They act out of hooliganism and extortionate motives,” the lawsuit states, demanding a compensation of NIS 300,000 from each protester. In recent weeks, the protests have escalated, with ultra-Orthodox factions vandalizing engineering equipment and disrupting public order. The municipality’s statement of claim, submitted to the city’s magistrate’s court, reads that the haredi rioters’ motives are hooliganism and vandalism, and they must be stopped.

Dangerous kindergartens

Parents were surprised to find out last week that three kindergartens on Colombia Street in Kiryat Menahem were vandalized. One morning, the parents arrived to discover that three of the four institutions in the preschool complex were defaced, and they found contaminated syringes there. The police have begun investigating, but the parents are highly concerned, arguing that, theoretically, anyone can come into the complex, even when the children are inside.

 Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men scuffle with Israeli police as they protest against the new construction work for the Jerusalem Light Rail, on Bar-Ilan Street, Jerusalem, August 24, 2021 (Illustrative).  (credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90) Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men scuffle with Israeli police as they protest against the new construction work for the Jerusalem Light Rail, on Bar-Ilan Street, Jerusalem, August 24, 2021 (Illustrative). (credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90)
Forward together 

A compromise between the municipality and the Israel Lands Authority has finally been reached for construction on the White Ridge, southeast of Kiryat Menahem. The two will jointly submit a construction plan based on Mayor Moshe Lion’s outline, which is significantly scaled down compared to the original plan promoted by the ILA. The Housing Ministry has also agreed to support the submission. However, if the plan falls through, it was decided that for now, the original plan submitted by the ILA will only be frozen for 18 months, so the original extended plan will be there as a backup. 

Most of the prominent green organizations, led by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, support the updated plan Lion is promoting, but at the same time there are still a number of objections. Lion’s alternative plan had Ein Lavan Valley being declared a national park and the construction itself being concentrated only in the upper part of the terrain and not on its slopes, with 6,000 housing units to be built, and the construction that was planned on the slopes of Hadassah Ein Kerem would also be canceled.

Take your bike

The city’s new bike paths are “another layer in the groundbreaking transportation vision of the Jerusalem Municipality,” declared a Safra Square spokesman earlier this week. Last week, the revolutionary pilot to create a network of tactical bike paths throughout Rehavia began, in cooperation with the Jerusalem for Bicycles association. However, despite the project’s many advantages, residents have expressed their outrage at the plan and the fact it was approved without public participation. 

Tactical urbanism allows cities to play with the design of the public space as much as they can imagine, to change and adapt as needed, to disassemble if it doesn’t work or to make it permanent if it does. Changes are made to the design of the public space in a quick, efficient and low-cost manner using readily-available materials, such as paint, flower pots and street furniture. And the great advantage: everything can be undone at the same speed in which it was implemented. 

Last week, tactical urbanism arrived in Jerusalem, albeit on a smaller scale, with tactical bicycle paths painted along its streets. The goal – according to officials in the municipality – is to enable cyclists to ride on the streets in a safe manner.

Cost of my city 

Hitorerut president and city council opposition leader Ofer Berkovitch recently contacted Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked to ask her for assistance in curbing the increase in property tax prices in Jerusalem, which recently increased by 2%. Among the steps proposed by Berkovitch was promoting the provision of a 25% discount to commanders who serve in the reserves (according to the proposal made by the minister herself, which was adopted by the ministerial committee for reserve soldiers), regardless if the municipality agrees to implement said provision.

Educated seniors

The municipality’s Department for Senior Citizens is promoting a program to help with legal issues related to the aging process. The Ginot Ha’ir Community Administration, in cooperation with the Social Services Department, and as part of the Healthy in the Community club, has formulated a series of summer lectures that will provide a professional and comprehensive response on these issues. 

The subjects that the lectures will deal with will be diverse, such as wills, inheritance law, power of attorney and medical matters. These are issues about which seniors don’t always receive comprehensive information that allows them to take action with an understanding of the broader picture. The lectures are accompanied by a presentation and short films that will shed light on the subjects. About 100 club members and friends have participated in the meetings so far. 

Holy dinosaurs

Dinosaurs (Botanizaur), an international exhibition of interactive dinosaurs in the Botanical Gardens in Givat Ram, seems to be the city’s major summer attraction. The Dinosaur Kingdom Park, in a reconstitution of what could have been their natural environment, is a dynamic and attractive spectacle. A joint project of the Jerusalem Municipality, Ariel Company and the Botanical Gardens invites families, children and adults to enjoy a unique encounter with about 45 life-size interactive dinosaurs, solve riddles, ride on dinosaurs, dig in an excavation complex and experience a trip to the Jurassic period through VR glasses in an innovative virtual reality complex.

For each dinosaur on display, young and not-so-young visitors can read background material on each species, such as what they ate and what their real size was. The exhibition will run until the end of August, seven days a week 7 a.m.-7 p.m., and Fridays 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Closed for Tisha Be’av, August 7. Cost: Ages 2+ NIS 89, promotions at all credit companies (1+ 1). Discounted tickets are also available for Yerushalmi card holders and security forces clubs. For details and to order tickets: *6226.