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Jerusalem Has a Future Again!

Until now, I have refrained from speaking about the Jerusalem mayoral elections because I don’t live and vote there. Now that the elections are over, it is clear that by electing Nir Barkat, Jerusalem has chosen a new direction, and with good reason.

Over the years, Jerusalem has become a poor, unattractive, near-unlivable city, that has served as more of a tourist attraction than the capital of the Jewish state. Traffic is horrendous, cultural events are rare, rents have risen sky-high, taxpayers are leaving the city in droves, and a non-contributing sector of Israeli society has been slowly, but surely, taking over.

Jerusalem needs to draw business, arts, students. Jerusalem needs a real nightlife, and a real restaurant scene. Jerusalem needs vibrant neighborhoods all over, not just two or three small popular areas. Jerusalem needs to be livable for its residents, for Israeli citizens.

It does not need to draw more and more tourists. It does not need to have apartments bought up by rich foreigners, only to be left vacant for most of the year. On that issue, Jerusalem should institute a much higher property tax on apartments owned by non-citizens, and on apartments that are vacant for the majority of the time.

A sectoral candidate cannot mend this city. I hope Nir Barkat will succeed in improving Jerusalem, in making Jerusalem a real city again, and returning Jerusalem to its proper status as the living capital of Israel.

על חומותייך, עיר דוד, הפקדתי שומרים – עשו את עבודתכם נאמנה

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4 Comments

  1. Ben-Yehudah says:

    B”H

    I am concerned by the conflicting promises Barkat seems to have made to the various sectors in J-M, his misrepresentation of Rav Drukman as endorsing him {a letter from the Sun. shows a clear endorsement of Porush}.

    You’re absolutely right on about the foreigners buying up apts. left empty for most of the year.

    But, why does J-M need a “night life.” When was the last time you were here? Shlomtzion street opening up is pretty new. Then there’s Emeq Refaim, Talpiyoth, and sections of Baqa and Azza St., in addition to the touristy Ben Yehudah street and Nahalath Shiva.

    The sheruts run all night between J-M and TA.

    ;-}

  2. LB says:

    The scene in Jerusalem is primarily made up of Anglo Olim (and their kids), the very few hilonim left in town, and American yeshiva students who come for a year after high school, make fools of themselves and too many of them are an overall bad thing in general (someone needs to supervise, and be accountable). The first two groups aren’t bad, but they are a very small part of Israeli society. Where is everyone else?

    I was there pretty recently, and Jerusalem doesn’t need to try to emulate TA and it’s scene – but it needs to be able to be a draw for Israelis of all stripes, and not be that city they go to when they visit their grandparents, or see for the first time when the army takes them.

    Israel needs to be a city for all Israelis, not just a few sectors of society. Yes, more bars and restaurants have been opening up, mostly over the past year, but Israel needs to cease to be “Medinat Gush Dan,” and Jerusalem needs to play a big part in that transformation.

  3. Cori says:

    “Israel needs to cease to be ‘Medinat Gush Dan,’ and Jerusalem needs to play a big part in that transformation.”

    AGREED.
    Do you have specific ideas re: this, and how it might unfold in a perfect world (or by means of a miracle)?

    Shabbat Shalom.

  4. LB says:

    How about cutting taxes for all college students in Jerusalem? Raising arnona rates sevenfold for foreign-owned apartments that are left vacant most of the year (they’ll be more likely to rent them out, eliminating “ghost neighborhoods”), increasing the Art & Culture budget (it’s a fraction of TA’s), giving real incentives for businesses to move to Jerusalem and actually moving all the government offices to Jerusalem from the Merkaz? Actually enforcing reasonable zoning regulations?

    Those are all just small steps off the top of my head, not that I’m holding my breath…

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