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Grapevine September 10, 2021: Crosswalk brouhaha

CM 08/09/2021

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■ NOT BEING native Jerusalemites, it was natural for President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to open the school year in Modi’in-Maccabim-Reut and Dimona, respectively. 
But Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy, who was born in Jerusalem and is the former Jerusalem commander of the police force, opted for a Jerusalem school – and a symbolic one at that. Levy, who is having a hard time keeping peace in the Knesset, went to the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School, in which Arab and Jewish pupils study together, learning more about what unites them than what divides.
In welcoming first graders on their first day in school, Levy thanked the school’s staff for their impressive work in preparing classes for the new school year under COVID-19 restrictions.

Levy said he was happy to see school opening on schedule and seeing pupils learning with their friends in person, instead of online. “It is important for their development as well as mental well-being,” he emphasized.
■ LEVY INHERITED a certain responsibility from some of his predecessors, which was to oversee the construction of the Knesset Museum in the old Froumine building in King George Avenue. Unlike the school year, the opening of the museum is way behind schedule, in much the same manner as was the Museum of Tolerance, which many years after the laying of the cornerstone had a low-key running period last year that was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Museum of Tolerance will be open to a wider public on October 12, when The Jerusalem Post holds its 10th annual conference. People wishing to participate in the conference, who have not been to Hillel Street in a long time, will be surprised by its transformation. The museum is one of the most dominant buildings in Hillel Street, but other buildings have been remodeled, and new ones have sprung up as well.

 Israeli president Isaac Herzog and his wife visit first graders at the Inbalim school in Modi'in Maccabim Reut on the first day of the new academic year, on September 1, 2021 (credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90) Israeli president Isaac Herzog and his wife visit first graders at the Inbalim school in Modi’in Maccabim Reut on the first day of the new academic year, on September 1, 2021 (credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)

Unfortunately, the Knesset Museum – which was supposed to have opened a couple of years back – is unlikely to open during the term of the present Knesset, but hopefully will do so during the term of the next Knesset, (depending on the political maelstrom), when the Knesset celebrates its 80th anniversary.
At one stage the excuse for the delay was paucity of funds. At another stage, according to the museum’s director, Moshe Fuksman, it was the discovery during restoration work that all the pipes in the three-story building needed to be replaced.
Part of the wall on the ground floor has been removed, leaving a gaping hole which can be seen from the surrounding fence which features well-captioned photographic scenes of various Knesset-related events. The photographs are changed from time to time, thereby ensuring the ongoing interest of the public until the museum becomes a reality. Meanwhile, what was once a grand building has fallen into shocking neglect with broken windows, and caked dust that has been carried by the wind.
Adjacent to the Knesset Museum site is the Menorah Park (the “Horse Park”), known as Gan Hasus, which was previously a sunken grassy area in which there was a sculpture of a pony that looked more like a comic strip character than a noble animal.
The park was often used for concerts and for small demonstrations. It is now being upgraded. An enclosure has been built around the horse sculpture which stands forlorn in the dirt that has been dug up in the upgrading process.
■ THERE’S A popular saying in English: If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. But with the perversity of humankind, there is a tendency to fix things that don’t need fixing, and to ignore things that do need fixing. In Jewish tradition, more so in recent years, we speak of tikkun olam, (repairing the world), but too often adopt an ostrich policy and refuse to acknowledge what needs to be repaired.
Someone who fights this policy is Dr. Colin Leci, who keeps reminding the people in Safra Square that the English translations on boards attached to historic buildings are inadequate and often inaccurate. 
His current peeve is directed at the imperfections of crosswalks and other safety issues. In many streets, white strips have either disappeared or faded. “It would appear that we are fast approaching a third-world city,” he says. “Go to Ra’anana, and you will not find this. It is time for the mayor to get his finger out and not follow the ways of his predecessors in this matter.”
After investigating the situation, Leci learned that responsibility in this instance, lies with the municipality, and not with the Transportation Ministry.
He is also unhappy about the proposed fountain in Wingate Square.
“We don’t need money spent on an unnecessary fountain at Kikar Wingate if we cannot ensure proper surface road markings are maintained unless of course all vehicular traffic is banned from Rehavia and Komemiyut!” he declares, deliberately using the Hebrew name for Talbiyeh, which is rarely used by anyone else.
Leci is also annoyed about car drivers who break the rules when their vehicles are wrongly parked, and points to employees of the President’s Residence as being amongst the worst culprits. In fact, this upset him so much that he wrote a letter to President Herzog, in which he stated:
“Since you have taken office there has been a total lack of adherence to the parking laws on Rechov Hanasi opposite Beit Hanasi, the majority of which is caused by those employed by the Office of President.
“This situation gets worse by the week. In Rechov Hanasi, between Radak and Ha-Ari, opposite the presidential residence , cars are parked at right angles to the pavement, yet most of the parking bays towards Ha-Ari are parallel to the pavement. As such cars stick out into the highway causing an obstruction, especially those turning into Ha-Ari!
“In addition, many cars parked in Hanasi between Molcho and Radak belong to the employees of your office of the president as indicated by the signs in the cars. Why cannot these cars be parked in the new car park opposite the Jerusalem Theatre in Chopin – I am sure the operators of the car park could make a special tariff for the presidential employees and this would solve some of the parking problems in Hanasi.
“I would also add that when you have public gatherings cars are also parked on the same side of the road as Beit Hanasi in dangerous positions. There is nothing stopping them from being parked in the new car park opposite the Jerusalem Theatre and the visitors entering Beit Hanasi by the gate on Chopin.
“When will action be taken to alleviate these problems and ensure the law is upheld?”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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