Grapevine: Crowded capital

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 Yesh Atid protestors demonstrating on a bridge over a busy street in Jerusalem (photo credit: Ronen Harish)
Yesh Atid protestors demonstrating on a bridge over a busy street in Jerusalem
(photo credit: Ronen Harish)

Zion is one of several nomenclatures for Jerusalem. In Jewish tradition, the Torah and the Word of the Lord are regarded as going forth from Zion. But what came forth from Zion this past week was far from holy, though to many people, it was sacred.

Regardless of anyone’s attitude toward judicial reform, the way legislators behaved in the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee was beneath contempt. How can parents tell their children who are watching the news on television to behave, when they see the example set by so-called lawmakers?

And then there was the mutual mud slinging and sporadic acts of violence at demonstrations opposite the Knesset and in the streets of Jerusalem – also in the presence of children.


THE HUGE influx of demonstrators was good news for many food vendors who did brisk business, especially as many of the non-Jerusalemites lingered afterwards, taking the opportunity to see something of the city.

Among local demonstrators was businessman, hi-tech entrepreneur, social activist and former Labor MK Erel Margalit, the chairman of Jerusalem Venture Partners. Margalit led a march in which participants included the capital’s hi-tech and start-up leaders, as well as some from outside Jerusalem, who marched from JVC headquarters on Hebron Road to the Knesset.

 Galilee residents head to Jerusalem to protest against the judicial reform (credit: Miri Yaziv) Galilee residents head to Jerusalem to protest against the judicial reform (credit: Miri Yaziv)

Aside from anything else, this was a real happening, which explains why so many of the demonstrators looked so happy, despite the discomfort and the reason for their being there. Reshet Bet political analyst Yoav Krakovski said that he took the train from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It was packed, and he had to stand all the way, as did many others.

As for Margalit, before starting out on the march, he said: “We are at a dramatic moment in the history of Israel, where all of us who are for democracy in the hi-tech industry and around Israel need to stand up and say NO to this government.”

Commenting on the innovation economy which has developed in Israel over the past 25 years, Margalit said it had brought together Arabs and Jews, secular and Orthodox, and that no attempt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cohorts to change the system and turn the existing democracy into a dictatorship would succeed if the public fights back. “This battle is a battle for democracy,” declared Margalit. “It is the most important battle of our lives.”

Nonetheless, what was somewhat frightening was the congestion on public transportation and on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway.

This was a taste of what we can anticipate once all the residential towers under construction are completed and occupied. On construction sites where residential complexes once housed 12 to 18 apartments, high-rises with 50 to 100 apartments are either in the process of completion or are already fully or partially occupied. Just look at the area on either side of Mahaneh Yehuda and across the road from the market on Jaffa Road and Agrippas Street.


BUT THERE was something even scarier than overcrowding the city. Following the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, geologists began warning about the next earthquake in Israel and pinpointing Jerusalem as an earthquake area. In fact, over the last couple of weeks, there have been mild earthquakes in Israel, but happily sufficiently mild in nature so as not to cause damage or loss of life.

That was now – but what about the future?

Geologists have also warned against living on the upper floors of tall buildings because in the event of an earthquake, the elevator will probably stop operating, and the building will implode before residents on upper floors can get to a safer place.

It would be worthwhile for Mayor Moshe Lion to get to Radio Yerushalayim and broadcast a well-informed address to residents of the capital, telling them what to do in case of an emergency. That broadcast should also appear on the municipality’s Facebook page and on YouTube.

Tall towers may prove to be our undoing.


IN ADDITION to the mass demonstrations which threaten to become a regular feature of life in Jerusalem, there will also be the 12th annual Jerusalem Marathon sponsored by the Sports Department of the Jerusalem Municipality.

Launched this week on the Mamilla Rooftop restaurant in the presence of Culture and Sports Minister Miki Zohar and Mayor Lion, it will as always interfere with pre-Shabbat shopping because it will again take place on a Friday, and several main streets will be closed to traffic during the race.

Valentina Versca, 33, from Ukraine, who won the full marathon at last year’s Jerusalem Winner Marathon, is returning to run again in support of the team from United Hatzalah. The organization has been very active in helping Ukrainian refugees in Ukraine and Israel.


THE NEW Boydem shop that sells slightly used clothing in as-new condition and also serves as an occupational therapy store to help in the rehabilitation process of people with mental illnesses, is officially opening at its new location, 1 Yosef Rivlin Street, at 12 noon, on Tuesday, March 14. Elie Lederman, who is one of the founders of The Boydem, promises that it will be an exciting event.


PURIM IS just around the corner, and for several weeks now, hamentashen (triangular-filled pastries), or oznei Haman as they are known in Hebrew, have been appearing in supermarkets and pastry shopst. Simultaneously, charity organizations have been suggesting that instead of sending the usual mishloah manot – Purim gift packages of food and drink – people should donate to charity in the names of the relatives, friends and business acquaintances who may have been among the recipients on the lists of their mishloah manot. Some organizations are also selling greeting cards to be sent in lieu of food packages.

But Moriah Ben-David, the director of the Jerusalem-based branch of the Zionist Federation of Australia, suggests that people join the Telfed initiative, which is to sponsor pizza and a drink for Lone Soldiers from Australia, South Africa and New Zealand who are serving in the IDF. The cost is NIS 75.


ANOTHER INITIATIVE geared to International Women’s Day, which falls at the same time as Purim this year, is a trip essentially geared to new immigrants. It is a visit to Mount Herzl to the graves of women pioneers to learn about their influential role in the founding of the State of Israel. The visit includes a tour of the Herzl Museum to learn more about how the Zionist movement was born and how it grew.

The trip will be on Friday, March 3. Participants coming from Tel Aviv and beyond will meet at the Savidor train station at 8:30 a.m. for the ride to Jerusalem. The trip is primarily for young adults aged 25-38. The cost is NIS 40 per person, and the return trip will be well before Shabbat. For further information, contact the Zionist Enterprises Department of the World Zionist Organization.