‘Tent city’ near J'lem's Holyland project targets corruption

“Holyland isn’t just another high-profile project with a bad smell,” says one of the demonstration's organizers.

holyland tent city 311 (photo credit: Abe Selig)
holyland tent city 311
(photo credit: Abe Selig)
Dozens of students, young professionals and a number of local neighborhood residents turned out Sunday evening to erect a “tent city” outside the capital’s now-infamous Holyland housing project, which has become the focus of a widening corruption scandal that has already implicated a long list of of former city officials, including former mayors Uri Lupolianski and Ehud Olmert.
The Hitorerut Yerushalayim (Wake Up Jerusalem) Movement, together with the Bezalel Art Academy and the Hebrew University Students Union, sponsored the tent city, which is part of a wider campaign calling on Jerusalem’s municipal planning authorities to convert the unfinished sections of the Holyland complex into areas for public use, or, even better, affordable housing for the demographic the groups represent.
Some 70 tents were set up in the area directly opposite the toweringhousing development. The demonstration’s organizers said that theyhoped it would draw attention to both the rash of corruption they sayhas plagued the city’s  planning and construction process and thehousing crisis the city’s students and young professionals face. Additionally, protesters carried signs that read, “down withcorruption,” and “returning the land to the city’s residents.” Musicand coffee were provided by the participants.
“The signs expressed a lot of people’s feelings about the corruption incity politics,” said Merav Cohen, a Hitorerut member and one of thedemonstration’s organizers. “And the tents were meant as a symbol ofthe lack of housing that we face.
“Holyland isn’t just another high-profile project with a bad smell,”Cohen added. “It’s one of a number of such initiatives that are poppingup all over the city, which make it harder and harder for young peopleand students to find affordable housing.”