This week in Jerusalem: Class struggle

A weekly round-up of city affairs.

 THE JERUSALEM light rail is undergoing some tweaks to make it more efficient. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
THE JERUSALEM light rail is undergoing some tweaks to make it more efficient.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Class struggle 

Four months after the ultra-Orthodox girls’ school Beit Ya’akov moved into one half of the Lady Davis school building in Kiryat Yovel, the Jerusalem Municipality has decided to remove the Lady Davis students and make the entire building an ultra-orthodox school. Furious parents held a huge demonstration on Thursday of last week. 

However, it now appears that the municipality has earmarked this as the second stage of a larger plan, which began with the expansion of the Argentina experimental school in the same neighborhood. That expansion was literally forced upon the local planning committee, headed by Deputy Mayor Eliezer Rauchberger (Degel HaTorah), and was approved in return for the haredim receiving their first school in the heart of Kiryat Yovel. The full takeover of the Lady Davis school as a haredi school for girls is now complete. 

Founded in 1965, the Lady Davis school has seen generations of students pass through its doors. It provided the last hope for students who had been expelled from other schools. Now, as it faces closure, the parents of the school’s 120 students are angry. Deputy Mayor Yossi Havilio has pledged to fight this decision and even plans to go to court, despite being a member of the mayor’s coalition. Havilio also hopes that the Histadrut, which owns the school, will join his struggle. 

Ramla-Lod market seeks space 

The stall holders of the Ramla-Lod open-air market, who were forced to give up the area assigned to them near the train station in Malha, are asking for a permit to join the hawkers’ market next to Teddy Stadium that is being renewed by the municipality. But the municipality is not inclined to approve the request and claims that there will not be enough space for them in the complex. The representatives for the merchants of the Ramla-Lod market contend that open-air markets are a tourist and commercial attraction and, as such, a place for them should be found in Jerusalem. 

MK Yitzhak Pindrus (credit: COURTESY/OFFICE OF MK YITZHAK PINDRUS)MK Yitzhak Pindrus (credit: COURTESY/OFFICE OF MK YITZHAK PINDRUS)

The book vs. the sword 

Former MK Yitzhak Pindrus of United Torah Judaism caused an uproar at a conference of the Israel Democracy Institute that dealt with the future of the haredi population in Israel when he said, “The secular public in Jerusalem lives at the expense of the ultra-Orthodox and not the other way around because the big money comes from rich people from outside the country... If we put these one against the other: first of all, the study of the Torah because that is what kept the Jewish people going for 2,000 years, while the army kept us going for 74 years. With 2,000 against 74, I give greater weight to the future of the Jewish people by Torah students.”

Hazardous material

A toxic asbestos substance was found in a community garden in the Arnona neighborhood. The asbestos fragments were handed over to the professionals in the municipality’s Environmental Department. The fragments were discovered by children during a neighborhood activity designed to cultivate the community garden, near Hanoch Albek Street, causing its immediate cessation. 

Asbestos is particularly dangerous in a crumbled state, when it may be inhaled into the respiratory tract and cause lung cancer. Following a tour conducted at the site, the environmental professionals carried out a controlled evacuation of the garden in order to locate and remove the asbestos fragments. Although the source of the asbestos is unknown, it is thought that it may have been part of the remains of the barracks in the transitional camp (ma’abara) of Talpiot in the 1950s and ’60s located not far from there.

Fond farewell 

Aryeh Margaliot, the legendary owner of Rosenfeld Toys, who ran the toy store on Jaffa Street for many years, died this week at the age of 67. The business will continue to run, operated by his children.

New Year’s Eve arrests 

Security in the capital was out in full force on New Year’s Eve. Hundreds of police officers, security guards and volunteers were deployed, both overtly and covertly, at entertainment centers across the city, where a number of arrests were made. During the operation, eleven people were caught driving under the influence of alcohol, and four other drivers were caught driving under the influence of drugs. The number of police in the city was greatly increased in order to maintain law and order and catch anyone who was inebriated behind the wheel. 

This increased police activity was carried out in and around Jerusalem, including on Route 1, leading toward the city. There, a significant police checkpoint was set up to test drivers and find those who were driving under the influence. According to the Jerusalem Police, 25 traffic investigation files were opened against drivers who had committed various offenses. Seven people suspected of involvement in violent acts of assault were also arrested, as well as 15 party-goers who were caught drunk-driving or under the influence of drugs. 

Light rail improvements

As of Sunday, January 1, the light rail network began undergoing a revamp. Additional trains, leading to a reduction in waiting times, is expected. The Kfir company believes that these steps will improve the overall service experience.

The addition of 13 full trips (throughout the entire route) per day and further four partial trips between Givat Hamivtar and the Air Force (the last stop) will increase the total number of trips to 320 full trips and eight partial trips. In addition, an early morning service will be added between Givat Hamivtar and Mount Herzl starting at 05:06. Evening services will also be increased, with trains leaving the stations every six minutes instead of every 10 minutes.

Are you decent?

The police carried out a survey that upset many residents in the city. It was titled “What are the most disturbing phenomena in the area where you live?” The survey was aimed at identifying the issues that are particularly problematic for residents and addresses the areas on which the police must concentrate.

However, some of the questions on the survey infuriated many residents, such as those relating to “decency offenses” which do not appear in the law. Questions about “transgressions of modesty” were also posed to residents, causing an outcry. Many offended residents turned to their community representatives and to Deputy Mayor Yossi Havilio, who immediately forwarded a report to the police on the matter. Consequently, those sections were removed after the protests, but the unrest in the neighborhoods did not dissipate. ❖