Grapevine: Chelm in Jerusalem

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 JERUSALEM’S HEBRON Road. Three more residential towers are slated to go up – two with 12 stories and one with 18 stories. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
JERUSALEM’S HEBRON Road. Three more residential towers are slated to go up – two with 12 stories and one with 18 stories.

In advance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the silent movie Die Stadt ohne Juden (The City without Jews) will be screened on January 17, at 8 p.m., at the Johanniter Chapel at the Church of the Redeemer in the Old City. 

Made in 1924 in Vienna, this science fiction classic, based on the novel by Hugo Bettauer, anticipated the Holocaust by more than a decade.

Anyone interested in German-Jewish relations will find this to be a very thought-provoking film. The screening will be accompanied on piano by Peter-Michel Seifried. 

Give back sidewalks: Suing the Jerusalem Municipality

■ RECLAIMING OUR Streets, a group within the Talbiyeh Forum, is suing the Jerusalem Municipality for sidewalk infringement. Members of the group say they are sick and tired of being forced to step off the sidewalk and into the street due to cars being parked on the sidewalk. The group contends that municipal traffic inspectors don’t pay attention to the pedestrians’ needs.

 WITH 11,000 employees, the Jerusalem Municipality is the capital’s beating heart. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) WITH 11,000 employees, the Jerusalem Municipality is the capital’s beating heart. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Their case will be heard in the Jerusalem District Court on Salah a-Din Street, east Jerusalem, at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, January 25. The aim is to make the municipality and the drivers who park their cars on the sidewalk realize that pedestrians are not only being inconvenienced but also endangered.

Organizers will be pleased to see as many people as possible who have been discomfited by cars parked on the sidewalk, to come to the court to help prove their case. Anyone interested in attending should telephone 052-392-0229, as court security personnel will permit entry only to people who have registered.

Transportation crisis in Jerusalem is about to get much worse

■ THE SITUATION is bound to get a lot worse. In last week’s In Jerusalem, Peggy Cidor wrote a comprehensive, well-researched article about the traumatic “towering” of Jerusalem, which has destroyed the character of the city.

Admittedly, approvals for construction of additional multistory towers will include a condition that such complexes have underground parking for several hundred cars. But what will happen when 20 people want to exit at the same time in streets that, by and large, are fairly narrow? Every parking spot in the street will be taken because many people would rather avoid the parking garage. In addition, there will be more cars on the sidewalk.

An expanded light rail network will not be the solution because as it is, for most of the day and night the light rail is overcrowded and so are many buses, including intercity buses. The Israeli psyche is such that every time a new road is built for the purpose of reducing traffic congestion, more people buy cars, and congestion is increased instead of reduced.

Before any approvals are given for additional high-rise buildings – especially those in excess of 20 floors – the infrastructure required for the additional residents should be built. In Jerusalem, it’s the other way around. Talk about Chelm!

Renowned architect opposes more skyscrapers in Jerusalem

■ RENOWNED ARCHITECT Moshe Safdie, whose professional imprint is highly visible in the Old City, at Yad Vashem, the Mamilla Mall and the David Citadel hotel, as well as major projects beyond Jerusalem, is one of several highly respected architects who have publicly expressed their opposition to towers dominating the Jerusalem skyline, citing some of the great capital cities of the world in which there are no skyscrapers.

Safdie came to international attention with his residential complex Habitat, built in Montreal in advance of the Expo ’67 world’s fair. The complex comprises 146 prefabricated residences of varying sizes and configurations, arranged in a multilevel tri-pyramid formation that reach up to 12 residential floors.

There were 158 units in the original plan, but a few were joined together to create larger apartments. Each apartment includes a private landscaped garden terrace built on the roof of the level below. Upgraded similar versions could have been built in Jerusalem in an effort to partially maintain its former character.

Because real estate in Jerusalem is so expensive, Mayor Moshe Lion, who is trying to prevent a large-scale exodus by providing more housing, may find himself stuck in a ghost city of mostly empty towers. A lot of people whose budgets will not stretch to cover the cost of an apartment in Jerusalem are heading for kibbutzim and development towns. They can get much larger apartments for less money in peripheral areas.

Moshe Lion bought a new apartment. When will it be torn down for another tower?

■ APROPOS THE mayor, Kuti Fundaminski, the real estate maven who writes for Yediot Yerushalayim, reports that Lion has purchased an apartment on Ussishkin Street, not far from the Ramban Street apartment in Rehavia where he lives. According to Fundaminski, another apartment of similar size in the same building was sold a year ago for NIS 7.45 million. Most real estate prices have risen since then.

The apartment, which is undergoing renovations before Lion and his wife move into it, is in a building of only five apartments and is approximately 130 square meters in area. Presumably, it will take a while before that particular building is torn down to make way for yet another tower. 

Israeli tourism industry is optimistic for 2023

■ PEOPLE IN the tourism industry are very optimistic about 2023 being a bumper year for tourism, and signs of that are already evident.

Coming up, in just over a month, is the OurCrowd Summit at the Jerusalem International Convention Center, which always attracts thousands of people from around the world.

Some fly in the previous evening and fly out the night the summit ends or on the following morning. Others come a few days before and leave a few days after, as they take a closer look at business opportunities that interest them and also take a little time to see the country.

This year, Jonathan Medved, the founder and CEO of OurCrowd, expects some 7,000 people to attend the actual summit on Wednesday, February 15, and at least half that number to stay for more than a day.

This year, the number of investors and entrepreneurs will be augmented by a large delegation from the Gulf states. Medved says that their participation, now and at future summits, will help to transform the Middle East from a region of strife and conflict to one of innovation, development, progress and leadership.

Karnei Shomron welcomes IDF soldiers

■ THE ARMY is always treated as something special in Israel because most people are aware that without the Israel Defense Forces, the security situation would be very bleak. But Daniel Seaman, who, as a former head of the Government Press Office, has been privy to very broad and varied sectors of Israeli society – and attitudes –  was pleasantly amazed by the reception that his son and members of his son’s Paratroopers company received from the residents of Karnei Shomron.

The soldiers are scheduled to be in the area for several months, but they won’t be roughing it nearly as much as they thought they would. In a message they received from the local community, residents offered to take care of laundry and assist with any other needs the soldiers might have.

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