Jerusalem affairs: Kaf-Tet b’November

On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly approved the partition plan for Mandatory Palestine. People danced in the streets of Jerusalem and across the country.

Knesset exhibit: David Ben-Gurion 1954 (photo credit: KNESSET)
Knesset exhibit: David Ben-Gurion 1954
(photo credit: KNESSET)
On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly approved the partition plan for Mandatory Palestine. People danced in the streets of Jerusalem and across the country. The following day, a pogrom against the Jewish community in Yemen, by Arabs angry with the UN decision, ended with 82 dead and 78 injured. A few weeks later, a haredi (ultra-Orthodox) rabbi from Bnei Brak sent a letter to prime minister David Ben-Gurion, suggesting that the date of the UN vote should becom'e a national holiday, to which Ben-Gurion laconically responded, “There is no need for that,” adding, “some educational programs at schools will be enough.”
Over the years, this significant date has become less and less marked. Yad Ben-Zvi seems to be the only official institution that marks the day with a program focused on radio broadcasts from that dramatic day.
Today, Friday, November 29, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., stories, recorded broadcasts and memories of that day, including personal memories of those who were here then, will be presented to the public. The event is free and the public is invited.
Several changes have occurred over the years to the way the events of 1947 have been was presented to students in public schools. In November 2017, under former education minister Naftali Bennett, school books mentioned the date as one of a disaster for the Jewish people, since the decision did not include parts of Jerusalem. Criticism led to a decision to a change in the books, and in 2018, a new edition appeared, in which November 1947 and the UN decision was presented as very positive.
Official ceremonies across the country were held to mark the day in 2017 to mark 70 years since the decision. This year, however, the Jerusalem Municipality is not officially marking the date. Much of the public will instead likely be shopping, focusing on Black Friday, which falls this year on November 29.
Park place
The improvised free parking behind the Liberty Bell Park is turning into a paid parking lot. In its quest to add parking places in the city center, the municipality is converting every known improvised parking location into organized parking that will require payment from drivers. The municipality is aware of the serious lack of parking spots in the city, and this is part of the plan to ameliorate the situation. The prices for parking in the Liberty Bell site and the other sites to come have not yet been announced, but sources at Safra Square said that prices will be significantly lower than other existing parking.
More cash, no strike
Citypass is exiting the city in a few months, but the Connect organization will continue to operate the light rail Red Line. Following months of talks, they have reached an agreement with the Histadrut, regarding the drivers of the company. The agreement, which will run until the end of 2022, includes an hourly pay raise of NIS 5 and a pledge that there will not be any strikes or actions disruptive to the light rail – including the next line scheduled to become active, the Green Line.
Growing challenges face Jerusalem’s Youth Department and Welfare Administration on many fronts.
One problem is youths who decide to leave haredi families and communities. They often have nowhere to go once they leave their communities, and lacking job skills, find it difficult to survive. Some hang around in the city center between Zion Square and the Hatulot Square, falling prey to drugs and prostitution, and become homeless.
Municipal welfare services are doing the best they can, but are understaffed and lack budgets. Accordingly, tragic events happen. For instance, last week, two brothers who left their haredi background committed suicide. Last month, a young girl in similar circumstances got involved with a drug dealer and died of an overdose.
In Isawiya, the arrest of youths, sometimes as young as 10 or 12 years old, in connection with stone throwing, is raising the concern of social workers. By law, such youths should be interrogated in the presence of social workers whose expertise is with young children, but due to a shortage of professional staff, this is often not happening.
A municipal spokesman said the Youth at Risk department has 210 employees, 60% of whom are social workers. The Welfare Administration, which deals with relevant family and mental problems, has only 38 employees. In a city of almost a million residents with growing numbers of youth in the streets – some observers talk about 15,000 up to 20,000 such youngsters – these figures are far from answering the needs.