Jerusalem Post Letters to the Editor: J’lem’s light rail

Emek Refaim has developed over the past three decades into an attractive, cosmopolitan and successful venue for hundreds of thousands of Jerusalemites and tourists.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
J’lem’s light rail
With regard to “Residents of Jerusalem’s German Colony say light rail extension will ruin Emek Refaim” (July 20), as an undiluted example of prime and politically blinkered stupidity, this scheme has to take first prize. After all, why wouldn’t anyone, without a trace of morbid cynicism, run it along a nearby defunct railway line when one could destroy the trade of scores of shops and restaurants on one of Israel’s best shopping streets, which has been favorably compared to London’s Hampstead High Street?
Emek Refaim has developed over the past three decades into an attractive, cosmopolitan and successful venue for hundreds of thousands of Jerusalemites and tourists, all of whom spend millions upon millions in its boutiques and eateries. It therefore is with the minimum of consideration that those in local government have deemed it advisable to destroy all of this and reproduce the dusty and barren chaos that was Jaffa Road for too many years rather than attract visitors from home and abroad. Advisable, that is, to reemploying Rehov Harakevet as the preferred route of a new line from Malha via the City Center to the outer suburbs.
One should ask oneself whether the sanity of those associated with this example of perverse planning was ascertained prior to their appointment to their positions on the planning committee or, failing that, whether the ghost of the Holyland project still stalks City Hall.
Gil Troy’s “Dear Mayor Barkat – Save Emek Refaim!” (Center Field, July 20) is right on. But I don’t understand why we need two parallel light rail lines about a 10-minute walk apart, when one of them, Hebron Road, is ideally structured for a light rail.
Moreover, as we are now on the cusp of a revolution in transportation, with smart selfdrive cars available within 10 years, why not make the grid smart so that we do not have to sit at red lights when there is no traffic the other way? If it were up to me, I would first do the Hebron Road light rail, see what happens as a result, and then see what is happening with transportation in general before destroying either Emek Refaim Street or the wonderful Rakevet Park.
I presume that, like the rest of us, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has enough sense to ignore the hyperbole in Gil Troy’s column, where the writer speaks for the birds while painting a picture of tanks running through flowerbeds.
Emek Refaim Street is for the opulent. Most of us could never afford to purchase a home there. According to my wife, the local supermarket is known to be the most expensive in the city. Aside from the burger joint, on my minimum wage I could never dream of enjoying dinner at one of the upmarket restaurants lining the street. And the boutique stores are pricey.
Sentiments are for the rich. In the long run, if bulldozing a railway line along Emek Refaim Street will eventually make my daily commute and the daily commute of thousands of others easier, I say go for it, Mr.
Mayor. Chop down as many trees as you have to!
In response to Gil Troy’s impassioned plea, City Hall has another plan, even more destructive than the one for the light rail through Emek Refaim. It has approved the digging of a huge dump for construction waste in Wadi Og, between French Hill and the Arab village of Isawiya.
This dump will harm the physical health and sanity of an estimated 100,000 residents. Nearby Hebrew University and Hadassah Medical Center will be afflicted by noise and dust.
The dump could also become an international scandal, since the inhabitants of Isawiya and other nearby Arab areas are sure to riot. Hamas gains, big.
Powerful interests are behind the ruinous plans for both of these projects, and citizens are locked in a David versus Goliath fight. Only this time, Goliath wins.
There are alternative solutions, but they require imagination and possibly more money. As Troy mentions, it would be possible to run the tracks down Hebron Road or even through a tunnel under Emek Refaim Street. Another solution is the SkyTran, a revolutionary new system of transportation being developed and initiated in Tel Aviv.
Mayor Nir Barkat should keep in mind that if he realizes his dream of running for prime minister, there are hundreds of thousands who will never vote for him.
Theater critic
With reference to “PM relishes political theater” (July 19), I watched during the last Question Time for British prime minister David Cameron. It was conducted with great dignity and humor, and was a pleasure to watch.
On Monday, I watched for nearly two hours the first “Question Time” in Knesset for our prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The remarks, advice and criticism from the opposition, including its leader, Zionist Union MK Isaac Herzog, were insulting and disgusting.
Many MKs say they represent the Israeli public. As a member of the public, I think such behavior is an insult to our intelligence.
See the Talmud
Regarding “Outrage signals growing moderate religious voice” (Analysis, July 19), apparently, some of our rabbis have not been following the daily reading of the Talmud.
Were they to do so, they would take to heart a passage in Kiddushin 40, commenting on Isaiah 3,10: “Say about the tzadik [righteous person] who is good, for he shall eat the fruit of his deeds.”
The Talmud asks: “Can there be a tzadik who is good and a tzadik who is not?” It answers: “A tzadik who respects Heaven and respects [its] creatures, that is a good tzadik. A tzadik who respects Heaven but does not respect [its] creatures, that is a tzadik who is not good.”
But then the Talmud questions the opposite, quoting Isaiah 3,11: “Woe the bad rasha [wicked person], for the deed of his hands will be done to him.” It then asks: “Can there be a rasha who is bad and a rasha who is not?” It answers: “A rasha who scorns Heaven and [its] creatures is bad. A rasha who scorns Heaven but respects [its] creatures is not bad.”
Let the reader decide how to qualify the rabbis in question.
Money for Abbas
It is time for the UN Security Council to investigate why Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his tyrannical regime are promoting the idea of child beggars (“Knesset panel aims to help Palestinian child beggars,” July 19).
It is a horrible sight to see hundreds of children taught to be beggars. Instead of spending the money given to him on schooling and day camps, Abbas is spending it on his political agenda. There has been so much money poured into the PA by Europe and the US that he should be tried for having squandered it.
I suggest very urgently that the UN appoint a committee to oversee what has been done with the money. Syrian children mean nothing to the world body, although it supposedly cares about Palestinian children.
We should definitely stop funding Abbas until there is a certified accounting of all monies given to him.