Municipal Eyesore

US President Donald Trump and PM Netanyahu at Ben Gurion airport (photo credit: AVI OHAYON - GPO)
US President Donald Trump and PM Netanyahu at Ben Gurion airport
(photo credit: AVI OHAYON - GPO)
 PRIOR TO the arrival of US President Donald Trump in Jerusalem almost seven months ago, considerable road work was done in the streets that run parallel to the Prime Minister’s Residence. A few weeks later, road work was re-introduced in order to improve the infrastructure surrounding the premises. That’s fair enough. The infrastructure surrounding the official residences of the nation’s top officials should be up-to-date and in prime condition. Hopefully it is, but the road and the pavement above it is not. When the first rains came, the surface in some parts disintegrated, leaving massive potholes. But even without that, both Balfour and Smolenskin streets, which intersect at the Prime Minister’s Residence, are a disaster. The surfaces are uneven and badly cracked. Where is municipal and national pride? These streets, when open to pedestrian traffic, are visited by tourists who want to see where the prime minister lives. Some are appalled at the condition of the street, especially in view of the fact that Israel as the start-up nation with a phenomenal international reputation for inventions of advanced technological defense equipment cannot come up with an invention for roads and pavements that is weather resistant. The square paving stones that can be seen on some pavements are fairly weather-resistant and last for a long time without dipping or getting cracks. It may be expensive, but this could be a lot cheaper than having to repair the roads again and again. Whoever is responsible for shoddy workmanship has probably taken a leaf out of the book of one of the kings of France, who during a major economic crisis in which there was vast unemployment told the people to dig up the roads and fill them in again.
■ THE ISRAEL branch of the Jewish Historical Society of England holds its meetings at Beit Avi Chai, where it hires one of the upstairs meeting halls. It was scheduled to have a meeting last Sunday with Barry Shaw speaking on “From Palestine to the Land of Israel – Amazing Stories of Courage and Heroism from 1917.” Generally speaking, the reservation for the meeting room is confirmed by Beit Avi Chai. This time, for some reason, it wasn’t, and organizers discovered late in the afternoon that all the meeting rooms had been hired out and that there was nowhere for them to convene. Urgent e-mails were sent out to notify regular attendees that the meeting had been postponed, but presumably, there were people who would be interested in the subject who were not on their lists and who they could not inform on time.
■ GUEST SPEAKER at the convention at Shalva House of the Mercantile Bank Jerusalem, which next year will celebrate its 100th anniversary, was retired Supreme Court justice Gabriel Bach, who in March this year celebrated his 90th birthday. Bach, who was the deputy prosecutor to Gideon Hausner in the Adolf Eichmann trial, is frequently asked to speak on the subject, and was asked to do so again at the convention.
His strongest memory of the trial, he said, was at its beginning when the judges entered the courtroom (which was relocated to Beit Ha’am – now Gerard Behar Center – because the regular courtroom was too small to accommodate the people who wanted to witness the trial).
The judges entered the hall and stood momentarily beneath the symbol of the state, and Eichmann, who had been one of the key figures in the Nazi mission to exterminate the Jewish people stood to attention in an Israeli court of law in the Jewish State. For Bach there was nothing more meaningful in the establishment of the State of Israel than there was at that moment. Bach, who was born in Germany, could have been a victim of the Nazi death machine, but,his family left Germany in 1938 and went to Amsterdam. In 1940, only a month before the German invasion of the Netherlands, the family sailed to British Mandate Palestine and settled in Jerusalem.
■ BEZALEL JERUSALEM graduate Omer Saig is the winner of the Lola Taumann Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Fashion Design 2017.
The prize awarded for both fashion and craft, was established by Jimmi and Sarah Rembiszewski to honor and preserve the memory of their mother and to reflect her exceptional talent, colorful personality, courage and determination. The intention is for the prize money to be used to help the winner set up a business in fashion design after graduation.
The Rembiszewski family will provide a mentor from the business world to advise prize winners during their first year out of the academy and to assist them in setting themselves up. The $10,000 prize is the largest fashion design prize awarded at Bezalel. Saig was selected for his unique collection of men’s wear and accessories.