■ WITH AN unprecedented second Knesset election within a six-month period coming up in less than two months, it is understandable that the subject is a hot topic. Will people who voted in April vote again in September? Will people who didn’t vote last time vote now? Will people vote for the same parties as before? There is a lot of uncertainty and much confusion, especially because there are so many rookie politicians who since the April elections have shown that they are not really cut out for political leadership. The upcoming elections will be the focus of discussion at the July 23 annual general meeting of AACI, where keynote speaker David Horovitz, founding editor of The Times of Israel and former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post will speak on “The Israeli elections 2019 – again.” The problem is that situations change so rapidly in Israel that any analysis he presents will be valid perhaps for another day or two, and then some other unexpected development will simply add to the electoral chaos.
■ UNITED TORAH Judaism (UTJ) is a political party unlikely in the foreseeable future – if ever – to have a woman among its legislators, but a woman is standing up to UTJ on the matter of responsibility for education in Jerusalem. UTJ MK Moshe Gafni insists that the municipal education administration be headed by a representative of the haredi community, such as deputy mayors Eliezer Ruchberger or Israel Klarman. But Hagit Moshe, the deputy mayor who holds the education portfolio, insists that the education network be run by properly qualified professionals. This puts Mayor Moshe Lion in a bind, because UTJ’s strong support helped him win the election.
■ UNTIL RECENTLY, Rehavia was a pluralist live-and-let-live neighborhood with a mix of haredi, Modern Orthodox and secular residents, though most of the haredim preferred to live in the adjacent neighborhood of Sha’arei Hessed, while using the commercial facilities of Rehavia that line Keren Kayemeth Street. But now, they want more than that, namely to use some of the land in the grounds of the Gymnasia Rehavia and the Evelina de Rothschild School to set up kindergartens. Sheike El-Ami, executive director of the Ginot Ha’Ir Community Center, recently wrote to the Jerusalem Education Administration, noting that the haredi community is growing and is in dire need of additional kindergartens. To the best of his knowledge, there is still land available in Rehavia to meet this need. The Evelina de Rothschild School always had a religious character, but the Gymnasia was and remains secular. To appropriate some of its land for a haredi kindergarten will create needless tensions between boisterous high school students and the parents and teachers of the kindergarten. There are several synagogues in Sha’arei Hessed that are not fully put to use during the day, and where part of the premises could easily be adapted to serve as kindergartens.
■ ENTERING AND exiting Jerusalem has seldom been easy. Bus passengers know that trying to get onto the highway from the Jerusalem Central Bus Station can sometimes take half an hour, which is half the time it actually takes to get to Tel Aviv once the bus is out of the bottleneck. Now with the Shazar Boulevard closed to all traffic except buses for a period of at least three years, one wonders how this will affect Jerusalem’s economy. Will tourists prefer to give Jerusalem a miss? Will international conventions scheduled for Jerusalem move to other locations? What will happen to fairs and festivals? The annual Hutsot Hayotzer International Arts and Crafts Festival, which attracts people from all over the country, is coming up from August 12-24 with an entertainment lineup that includes Danny Sanderson, Gidi Gov, Shlomi Shabbat, Nasrin Kadri, Berry Sakharof, Mosh Ben-Ari, Eden Ben-Zaken, Itai Levy, Hanan Ben-Ari, Eden Hason, Eviatar Banai, Moshe Peretz, Static and Ben El, Yehuda Poliker, Yuval Dayan and Idan Amedi – most of whom do not live in Jerusalem or its environs and may have gigs elsewhere later on the same date. Will any of them cancel? Ditto visitors from outside Jerusalem. Even before the closure of Shazar Boulevard, the capital’s economy was suffering. Witness the number of shops that have closed on Hillel, King George and Agrippas Streets, to name but a few examples. Would it not have been more prudent to import 500 Chinese construction workers who could finish the job in six months than to let the nightmare drag out for three years or more while Jerusalem enterprises increasingly go out of business?
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