This week in Jerusalem: Not our lady

In one of these situations that could occur only in Jerusalem, a haredi council member and a secular one were opposed on a proposal to approve the enlargement of a hotel in the Notre Dame compound.

Moshe Lion and Elisha Peleg (photo credit: Courtesy)
Moshe Lion and Elisha Peleg
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Not our lady
In one of these typical situations that could occur only in Jerusalem, a haredi (ultra-Orthodox) council member and a secular one were opposed on a proposal to approve the enlargement of a hotel in the Notre Dame compound. One would assume that the secular representative would be pro and the haredi against. Well, in another world, perhaps. This happened 10 days ago at one of the longest sessions of the local Planning and Building Committee, when Likud member Elisha Peleg virulently opposed the project, while the president of the committee, Eliezer Rauchberger (United Torah Judaism) tried desperately to block Peleg’s initiative, arguing that this would cause a scandal between Israel and the Vatican. The proposal was rejected and sent back to the committee for preservation of historical sites, officially to prevent any breach in the rules for preservation – in fact, to give the committee enough time to find a solution to avoid a diplomatic incident.
Mosquitoes attack
Been recently bitten by a mosquito? Better make sure this was not one of the mosquitoes that the Environment Ministry has found to be infected by West Nile virus. The suspicious mosquitoes have so far been found in the Pisgat Ze’ev and Neve Yaakov neighborhoods. The municipality has been alerted to take immediate steps to block the eventual spreading of the cases and to dry any suspicious water spots. Signs of the illness could be headaches, tiredness and high temperature. In acute cases, it the virus can also cause confusion and paralysis.
Welcome to our court
It is not the first one in the country, but it is the first in the capital – a Communal Court, with a different approach than usual at court, emphasizing rehabilitation and care for the accused. This new venue will be located inside the structure of the magistrate court of the city, and it will be headed by Justice Yehoshua Zimmerman. The communal courts serve citizens who have a minor transgression, and their main purpose is to help these people to avoid trial, and put more strength on helping them to change their ways. It helps the community more, is less of a cost for the state budget and most importantly, prevents these people from becoming delinquent and caught in the traffic of criminality. Since, in most cases, it has been proven that these cases are the result of serious hardships and misery, both social and economic, that such a solution seems to be the best available to reduce the criminality and help citizens. Since its opening, the Jerusalem Communal Court has already provided services to about 50 candidates.
No strike today
Since 1967, Jerusalem has had two separate bus companies which serve the city and its residents. After many years and following great efforts by the Jerusalem Municipality and the Transportation Ministry, several bus companies (which are often hostile to each other), have finally been incorporated into one city company for east Jerusalem for Palestinian residents who wish to reach neighborhoods that Egged does not reach.
Per the new agreement, a new central bus station for the eastern part of the city was built on Sultan Suleiman Street (close to the Damascus Gate) and service began to improve with an armada of new and modern buses.
About 300,000 Arab residents use these buses on a daily basis, connecting the southern villages and neighborhoods with those in the northern section of the city. However, until Sunday morning earlier this week, a serious threat of a strike threw the new company’s fate into the air, but was prevented, for now.
Serious talks between the company and the Transportation Ministry have prevented the strike, and it seems solutions are on the horizon, according to sources inside the ministry. The requests focus on the bad quality of infrastructure in east Jerusalem, which make driving more difficult, as well as relating to a gap between public transportation drivers between the east and west sides of the city. And, while this is considered to be a “united city,” the east side buses are not allowed to use the Rav-Kav card system, which prevents passengers from using its advantages. All parties expressed their hope that the matters will be resolved within the next few days.
No strike No. 2
At least for now, no strike is planned by the employees’ committee of the Israel Railway, and thus, following a successful experimental first test ride of the electric train line between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, this line will begin operating at the end of the year. The driver, Yossi Afrayat, declared at the end of the ride that he felt “proud and excited.” As soon as this period of experiment ends, passengers will not need to change at Ben-Gurion Airport to another train to reach Tel Aviv or any other city on the line of the railway.
Bad before it gets better
The municipality organized a meeting with residents of the Jewish Quarter to inform them about a plan to upgrade access to the neighborhood. Some 300 residents, after hearing that the work will require blocking the access roads along the Armenian Patriarchate compound, reacted in anger and said the project would make their daily lives so miserable that they refuse to agree with it. Some of them later found out that the Armenian Patriarchate voiced the same opposition, arguing the plan would block the 50 families who live inside the compound from getting in or out.
According to the municipality, the work should take about four months and start right after the holidays. A wide plan of upgrading infrastructure and access roads to the Old City has been going on for the last three years. Goals include making the Old City accessible to handicapped visitors and residents, particularly those in wheelchairs. Residents argued that the current plan was presented a few years ago and rejected because it would have harmed the daily life of residents. The estimated cost of this project is NIS 20 million.
Fly me to LA
Earlier this week, an unusual passenger flew from Ben-Gurion Airport to Los Angeles. It was Lisa, a female dog with an extraordinary story flying to her new home. The Let the Animals Live association were the matchmakers behind this touching story. Lisa’s adoption caused a deep sigh of relief, after four months of repeated attempts to find her a home failed time and again. The reason? Lisa doesn’t look too good. She was wounded, and as a result her jaw was completely broken.
Volunteers of the association rescued her – not an easy task since she was so afraid of humans – and brought her to a veterinarian. She had to undergo a serious operation that lasted many hours but healed her completely. However, the jaw repair was not very aesthetically pleasing and nobody wanted to take Lisa home. Then, a reality show participant took a selfie with Lisa and posted it on Instagram and one of his followers, a resident of LA (who didn’t wish to be identified), asked to adopt Lisa. Now Lisa has a new home in California.
Let the Animals Live association was founded in 1986 as a non-profit organization that provides help to distressed animals, rehabilitating them and finding them adoptive homes, following the vision of its founder, Ety Altman, that Israel would be a nation where animal cruelty has ended and all animals live full peaceful lives.