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Grapevine: A ‘Vert’ ing a problem

CM 26/08/2021


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It was almost a comedy of errors, but was caught in time to avoid embarrassment. When Sheldon Ritz, the general manager of the Vert Hotel heard that Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides was at Tel Aviv’s Crowne Plaza Hotel, he rushed there from Jerusalem to give the general manager a quick lesson in diplomatic protocol. 
Ritz was for many years the person in charge of foreign delegations at the Dan Hotel chain in general and the King David Hotel in particular. However, when he got to Tel Aviv, he discovered that the foreign minister was in fact staying at the Vert hotel. Ritz hurried back and was able to make all the appropriate arrangements in time. 
How did the misunderstanding occur? The Vert Hotel is part of the Africa Israel Group and was previously known as the Crowne Plaza. Ritz has already become accustomed to the name change, but a lot of other people have not.

■ JERUSALEM POST business reporter Zev Stub wrote a comprehensive, enlightening but disturbing article about the construction binge in the capital that was published last Friday in the Magazine, and is a must-read for every adult resident of the city. What emerges loud and clear in addition to important information about how the city will change, is that Jerusalem is not democratically run, and that the will of the people is ignored. 
When there are controversial neighborhood issues, the best way to resolve them is by referendum. It’s not a big deal in a technological era. Computers can be set with the questions “Are you in favor of?” or “Are you opposed to?” The resident has simply to click on whichever applies. The computer can be programmed to automatically register for and against, so at the end of the day, there will be no need to count ballots. The totals of the two options will be ready and waiting, and if the outcome does not please a certain segment, then it’s just like the Knesset elections. The list you vote for is not always the one that wins, and sometimes it may not even pass the threshold. But at least, you’ve had your input if you voted. But the people at City Hall in Jerusalem, don’t think that way, and the population suffers as a result.
Mayor Moshe Lion is very proud of the fact that pavements have been re-laid or repaired and that the city is much cleaner than it used to be, but why fix the pavements and ignore the roads? All over the city, there are roads that are full of potholes and uneven surfaces due to a patchwork of repairs. This has become much worse now that roads are being dug up for replacement or installation of infrastructure, because it’s not always the whole width of the road that is being dug up, but usually the sides where the gutters are. Then when the dug-up area is filled in again, there is seldom any effort to re-tar the whole road, resulting in more unevenness than before.
The mayor is proud that he has created bike stations and trails, but several of the bike trails lead nowhere, and stop at a tree or a fence. As for the bike stations, some simply ruin a beautiful section of the street, as for instance the one on the corner of Balfour and Jabotinsky. But worse than the trails and the stations is that there are no rules for motorcyclists, bike riders, scooter riders and skateboard enthusiasts. They come at pedestrians from all directions on the pavement – sometimes at astonishing speed, and motorcyclists on the road are the nemesis of every car and truck driver as well as of pedestrians. They weave in and out all over the road, often ignore traffic lights, so pedestrians crossing on a green light, are taking their lives in their hands almost to the extent as if they were breaking the rules and crossing on a red light.
E-bike cyclists have no right to be on the pavement, but when there’s a lot of traffic congestion, up they go, and pedestrians be damned.
Bicycle rental station in Jerusalem (credit: FSM)Bicycle rental station in Jerusalem (credit: FSM)
They also ride at top speed through pedestrian malls, and reader Yaakov Rose, who lives in Nahlaot adjacent to Mahaneh Yehuda, complains that he and his family constantly have to dodge bikes and scooters driven through the open-air section of the market. It’s difficult enough trying to avoid the shopping carts and the baby carriages – especially those designed to carry two infants – but to have to contend with bikes and scooters as well, plus the occasional motorbike is intolerable. Sadly, the people at City Hall seem to have other things on their minds.
■ SOME FIVE years have passed since some of the city’s residents, primarily those living in Rehavia and Talbiyeh, discovered that the contracts that they had signed with the Jewish National Fund when they purchased their apartments, were not exactly worthless, but could not be taken for granted. The JNF had in a sense been a sub-contractor, having long ago leased the land for 99 years from the Greek Orthodox Church, which owns huge tracts of land all over the country. However five or six years ago or thereabouts, the Greek Orthodox Church sold some of its land to groups of investors, who have made it clear that once the contracts that the apartment owners had with the JNF have expired, the apartment owners will either have to pay a significantly higher amount of rent or face eviction. The JNF claims that the sales were conducted without the Church giving the JNF the first option. A different story emerged from the Greek Patriarchate – namely that the JNF was warned and did nothing.
At this moment in time, it does not matter which narrative is true. The important thing is that there are some 1,500 Jerusalem households, whose residents are living under a cloud of uncertainty, with no solution in sight. Anxiety set in with a bang during the pandemic, and those affected residents who are part of the Talbiyeh Forum WhatsApp Group, have been sending fast and furious messages. With the customary Israeli trait of looking for someone to blame, some are pointing a finger at JNF vice chairman Shlomo Deri, a lawyer who was a partner in one of the investment groups that purchased land from the Greek Orthodox Church. Some point to Deri as having a conflict of interest, and others who come to his defense because they are fully aware that he came to the JNF long after the transfer of ownership of the land was signed and sealed. Deri is a brother of Shas leader and former interior minister Arye Deri.
No one knows how this situation will play out, but the lesson to be learned is that while the new government is undertaking a series of reforms that include more digitizing of government service with the aim of cutting bureaucratic red tape, it might consider having legal contracts rewritten in the most clear and concise manner, with no small type. Too many people entering into transactions that require a written contract, don’t understand a lot of the legalese, especially the small print. Let’s do away with the small print and make contracts as simple as possible, and available in the languages in which signatories are most familiar. It will lead to a lot less heartache.
greerfc@gmail.com

Source: Jerusalem Post

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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