Social Protesters are currently blocking the Ayalon Highway in both directions. They are blocking the highway near the Shalom Junction. Firemen are stationed at the protest, apparently just in case anyone else tries to light them self on fire.
Posts Tagged ‘highway’
The Ministry of Transport published last week a primarily web-based campaign showing the impending changes, transformations and expansions undertaken in air, sea, and land transportation in the country. The Ministry of Transport, headed by Minister Israel Katz, has been working intensively in recent years to develop and implement far-reaching programs that could affect every Israeli citizen’s life. Videos distributed by the Ministry of Transport online show the expected investment of about 100 billion Shekels over the next six to eight years. The Ministry’s publicized objective is the promotion of national transportation that will leverage economic development, connect the periphery to the major cities, and place Israel among the most advanced countries in terms of transportation.
It is no secret that transportation development has suffered neglect and lack of promotion in the past two decades. Until recently, roads have not been revamped, the train’s route was not developed, and traffic jams across the country intensified due to an increase in the number of private vehicles. Today, most citizens own at least one car, and in many cases two, a situation demanding immediate solutions. Lately, however, Israel has witnessed developments everywhere. Across the country, from north to south, there are new roads, interchanges have been built, railroads placed and more.
In Jerusalem, the Ministry promises to construct a new entrance. The road will be called “Route 16″ and will reach downtown. The road will contain mostly tunnels and should relieve traffic congestion. The busy highway 1 linking Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will become a two-track road which should, according to transportation officials, solve the heavy load on this road.
Also, a special railway line of about 57 km should be open by the year 2017, which will connect Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by only 28 minutes travel.
In the North, one of the major projects that the Ministry of Transport presented is the establishment of the Golani Junction interchange – a huge project that began this year and is scheduled to be concluded in 2013. The junction will connect in the future to a network of highways and to Highway 6, which will allow a smoother trip with no traffic lights from the north of the country to its center.
Another project is the extension of Highway 6, Israel’s most significant highway. Today it ends in the north at the Ein Tut intersection near Yokneam. In the future it will be expanded to Shlomi, taking the highway even further North. As for the southern segment of the highway, The Ministry of Transport promised to expand the highway to the outskirts of Be’erSheva, which will further connect the south to central Israel.
A more grandiose project is the “Ha’Emek Train” – a flagship project of the Ministry which has set to develop the Valley Railroad, establishing a fast connection along the Haifa – Nazareth – Beit Shean rout. This project is scheduled to be ended by 2016. Minister Katz briefly introduced the project’s future benefits for the entire region: “The Jordanians are interested in promoting such a project, which will allow them to export and import cargo by train, arriving at the port of Haifa.”
In the center of the country, the Ministry of Transport presented the light rail which should constitute in the near future an extensive transportation network in the greater Tel Aviv area. The first line to be built is the Red Line, which will connect Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Petach Tikva, Bnei Brak and Bat Yam. The 11-billion-Shekel project will include additional lines, and will be completed gradually by 2017.
Furthermore, the ministry is establishing in the Sharon area a transportation system of special buses called BRT lines, which will have its separate lanes. The BRT lines are intended to transport large numbers of passengers. The network is scheduled to be opened in 2014.
In the south of the country, modern rail lines should connect the Tel Aviv metropolitan area to the south of the country, including Eilat, and will allow passengers on the train to get from Tel Aviv to Eilat in two hours. At Timna, a new international airport will replace the existing one in Eilat. The new airport will be called “Ramon Airport,” named after Ilan Ramon, an Air Force pilot and the first Israeli astronaut, and Assaf Ramon, Ilan’s son who was also an air force pilot and who was recently killed in a training accident. The Ministry of Transport did not supply an exact date of completion for this project.
We left Reno, Nevada, early Sunday morning and decided to take the scenic route to Salt Lake City, rather than travel by super highway, but Route 50 turned out to be not very scenic as we crossed Nevada and Utah. We stopped at a roadside table at noon, where the men heated and ate LaBriute meals while the women enjoyed their cottage cheese, peanut butter sandwiches, fruit and vegetables. We have followed this pattern of meals ever since the women decided not to eat the packaged meals.
Three times during our return trip (eastward to Florida), we lost an hour when we entered a new time zone, as we did when we entered Utah. We had planned to spend two days traveling to Salt Lake, but, with little to see on the way, we drove straight there in one day. On the way, we stopped in Utah at another Maverik service station and enjoyed the delicious kosher frozen yogurt in the food shop. My brother, Avi, used his Internet access to order us two rooms at a Quality Inn motel. We arrived late and were happy to find very comfortable accommodations.
We spent the next morning at the Mormon Family History Library. We were very careful to give them as little family information as possible because the Mormons are rumored to use their list of Jews to baptize them after death. We were hesitant to use their facilities but they are very up-to-date technologically and have all of the latest software. It was an interesting experience and the workers there were courteous and helpful. We were careful to wear yarmulkes rather than caps so that there would be no question as to who we were.
We toured the Utah State Capitol building and then drove to the Salt Lake and Island. We drove to the Olympic Park built for the 2002 winter Olympic Games. I “flew” down on the extreme zipline and all four of us took the tour of the park. It was a very interesting visit.
Our next stop was Rawlings, Wyoming, where we found reasonable accommodations for the evening. The very high price of fuel has severely impacted the tourism industry and we found that we had little trouble finding accommodations without advance booking. We left Rawlings the next morning and drove to Laramie where we toured the former state prison. We joined a guided tour and learned the interesting history of the prison and its outlaws. Butch Cassidy and other outlaws were housed in tiny cells and most probably worked making brooms, the main industry at the prison. We also visited the museum in Cheyenne and several other tourist sites.
That afternoon we crossed into our 13th state, Colorado, on our way to Denver. After checking into our Denver motel we drove to the East Side Kosher Deli and enjoyed a delicious meal. I loved the spare ribs and the prices were reasonable. We loaded up our cooler with packaged meats and cold cuts for the coming days. That evening we experienced our first rain (a thunder storm) of the trip. We have been very fortunate with pleasant weather for the past few weeks while we visited 13 States and drove more than 7,000 miles.
We started our next morning at the Mizel Museum of Jewish Art. It is a lovely museum and we especially enjoyed the “4,000 Years of Journey” exhibition. I hope to dedicate a separate article to the colorful exhibits of this beautiful museum and to its dedicated staff. My wife, Barbara, wrote in her diary, “What a great museum!” We were a bit surprised by the very few visitors that we encountered in the museum while we were there.
Next State: Nebraska
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Conspicuously wearing my kippah, I walked out of a TJ Maxx in Cincinnati Ohio, where I was visiting family, when a car full of skinheads sped up to me with arms stretched out the window in a Hitler salute chanting “Sieg heil!” I sternly retorted: “I condemn and despise your hateful ideology but support your right to free expression!” If these Neo-Nazi skinheads thought Jewish people were strange, I’m sure my response confirmed it.
The Georgia Department of Transportation rejected the Ku Klux Klan’s application to adopt a highway because of the group’s hateful ideology. The American Civil Liberties Union is now defending the Klan. Despite the KKK’s despicable and hateful ideology, the First Amendment protects their free speech, and therefore their right to participate in Georgia state’s Adopt-a-Highway program.
At face value, Jewish law does not appear to support pure free speech. It does, however, recognize and espouse the benefits of rigorous debate. The interpretation of Jewish law is in fact created through heated debate, for example, between the schools of Hillel and Shamai. The Jewish approach tends not towards regulating different opinions, but rather promoting the “marketplace of ideas,” believing that is where the truth of matter will be revealed.
Laws prohibiting the government from regulating hate speech, excluding of course obscenity, defamation, and incitement to riot, are generally unconstitutional in the United States. U.S. Supreme Court opinions dating back to Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire 315 U.S. 568 (1942) affirm that speech directed at a specific individual meant to inflict injury or “incite an immediate” threat (i.e., yelling “fire” in a theater) is not protected under the First Amendment. However, unless you can show that the words pose a direct and immediate threat, hate speech is still generally protected.
The more difficult question is where do we draw the line when it comes to hate speech that is not designed to incite but is an expression of a hateful ideology? Should society regulate speech such as a sign bearing the insignia of the Georgia KKK on an interstate highway?
In Jewish law the punishment for hate speech (e.g. Lashon Hora) is a heavenly dermatological disease called tzaraat. In Numbers 12:10 Miriam is afflicted with the disease for criticizing the Ethiopian race of Moses wife. Interestingly, nature and the divine, not the justice system, afflict an offender with tzaraat (Artscroll Tanach, Leviticus 13, commentary, page 272). Those afflicted with tzaraat were marginalized from society, in designated camps, as part of their atonement (Leviticus 13:45-46). The inherent message is that we don’t need to ban or censor hateful speech, because the real solution is marginalizing hateful ideology through truthfulness. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said it best: “Freedom of speech carries with it certain obligations. One of those is to condemn false speech. The best answer to false speech is not censorship, it is truthfulness.”
Racist, homophobic, and hateful organizations like the Ku Klux Klan undermine their ideology more than promote it. Allowing them to speak in public helps expose them for who they are. The best way to respond and defeat those ideologies is by exposing them.
By attempting to suppress their speech we only make them stronger. Racist ideologies thrive in countries like Austria, France, and the United Kingdom, where hate speech is restricted. For instance, the Netherlands islamophobic and racist Party for Freedom received almost 1.5 million votes in the 2010 election. Those guilty of hate speech often garner media attention, become martyrs, and use speech suppression as a recruitment tool.
In 2004 when the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the KKK had a free speech right to adopt a highway, the Missouri legislature used the opportunity to effectively and constitutionally combat the hate speech:
Lawmakers named that section of roadway the Rosa Parks Highway, as the New York Times reports. When a different white supremacist group adopted another highway segment, Missouri lawmakers renamed that road for Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Jewish theologian who escaped Nazi Germany for the U.S. where he became a civil rights activist.
The best way to delegitimize racist and bigoted viewpoints is through the marketplace of ideas, not through government regulations infringing on the First Amendment.
Palestinians rioters at around 11 p.m. Monday blocked with stones the Benjamin-crossing highway near the settlement of Neve Tzuf in south-west Samaria. An Israeli vehicle with four Tel Aviv residents hit the barrier and was damaged.
The event took place at the Abud bypass, in front of the village of Deir Abu Mashal, about 500 meters from the point where a resident of Neve Tzuf was injured last week when her vehicle was stoned by Arab rioters in broad daylight. The wounded woman was treated at the scene and did not need to be evacuated, but her car suffered serious damage.
Security forces from the settlement of Neve Tzuf and IDF forces reached the scene Monday night and began searching for the attackers.
Neve Tzuf was established on the ruins of a Talmud-era village, in November, 1977, by 40 families of both National Religious and secular Israelis. The murder of a Jewish resident at the settlement’s gate—a unique event back then—caused a mass desertion of the place, with only seven families choosing to stay.
Today some 250 families (close to 1,000 residents) live in Neve Tzuf, which is situated 35 minutes from Jerusalem and 45 minutes from Tel Aviv. The community is religious, with 55% Ashkenazi, 33% Sephardi, and 15% Yemenite.
After so many incidents in which Palestinian propaganda has managed to rearrange the narrative so that the Israeli side appears to be the aggressor, we could expect the IDF brass, as well as Israel’s government, to show restraint, perhaps count to 30, before throwing their own man under the media bus. But, alas, both IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned a senior IDF officer for the way he appears on a selectively edited Palestinian video on You Tube.
A picture, in this case, is worth a whole lot less than a thousand words, because the picture is a video, and a video can be edited so that the aggressor appears like the innocent victim.
Here is what appears to have happened:
A large group of 250 European and Palestinian activists belonging to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) were on a bicycle trip in the Jordan Valley, a region which has enjoyed relative peace in the relationship between local Arabs and the IDF, even as Judea and Samaria were ignited in violent clashes.
The ISM website states that it is a “Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli apartheid in Palestine by using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles. Founded by a small group of primarily Palestinian and Israeli activists in August, 2001, ISM aims to support and strengthen the Palestinian popular resistance by providing the Palestinian people with two resources, international solidarity and an international voice with which to nonviolently resist an overwhelming military occupation force.”
In other words, this is the equivalent of the Sinn Féin, the political wing of the IRA. While Palestinian terrorists are engaged directly in executing acts of murder against Jews in Israel and abroad, the ISM creates provocation that helps divert media attention from the brutality of Palestinian terrorism.
This very large group of dedicated agents provocateurs rode through one of the villages in the valley, and when they tried to get on highway 90, which runs the length of Judea and Samaria alongside the Jordan River, they encountered Israeli soldiers and border policemen who demanded their return to the village, because the activists had not coordinated their trip with security forces.
It should be noted that, for security reasons, Palestinian traffic on highway 90 is curbed and monitored by several checkpoints. This is part of Israel’s overall effort to prevent unceasing Palestinian attempts to attack Jewish targets both within and outside the “green line.”
It should also be noted that, as the ISM itself states this plainly, it is their mission to open up those road blocks, so that “the Palestinian popular resistance,” e.g. the Islamist Jihad and Al Fatah, be able to renew their attacks on Jewish targets.
Now you understand what the clash at the entrance to highway 90 was all about.
According to the Deputy Commander of the Valley Brigade, Lt.-Col. Shalom Eisner, the event, in which IDF soldiers were trying to block the passage of 250 cyclists, lasted about two hours, only a few minutes of which are shown in the video.
Once told they could not proceed, Eisner said, “the activists tried to block the Jordan Valley road. We were the last vestige between them and the highway, and the protesters tried to pass us again and again, even though we insisted and explained to them that they are forbidden to break into a military zone.”
At some point during that two-hour event, an ISM agent attacked Eisner, and broke two of his fingers. Take a look at the way the Israeli officer is holding his weapon, and you’ll realize he is actually responding to a dangerous demonstrator, rather than attacking him unprovoked. He was provoked and then some.
“I’ve learned my lesson from the incident and will never again be dragged into provocation,” Eisner told Ma’ariv, “but you must understand the whole situation, in which we were trying for two hours to stop lawbreakers. I simply did my job.”
So far, this is a tale of two opposing groups, each attempting to perform the task it had been assigned by its bosses: the ISM were trying to push through the IDF checkpoint, and the IDF was working very hard, and, considering the event lasted two hours, with considerable self-restraint, to block their advance.
Now comes the part where on the Israeli side the bosses lose their grip and throw their dedicated soldiers under the bus.
Of all the official reactions to the incident, the only sane and responsible one came from the IDF Spokesperson’s office. It’s no wonder – they’re paid to respond professionally and calmly. Their statement said: “This is a grave incident. The Head of Central Command, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, has ordered that a thorough and serious inquiry be conducted. The inquiry will look into the circumstances that preceded the events documented in the video as well as the serious incident that is seen in the film. Lessons will be learned and proper steps will be taken.”
Some 200 residents of settlements in the Benjamin region, in central Judea and Samaria, rallied Sunday night on Route 465, in protest of the new access road being paved to serve Rawabi, the modern urban center of the planned Palestinian state.
Led by Rosh ha’Moa’atza (County Clerk) Avi Roeh, the Jewish residents arrived at the work site to demonstrate against connecting the existing and the new roads. They were joined by Likud activists.
“Rawabi was born in sin,” Itzik Shadmi, chairman of the residents committee of Benjamin Region, told Ma’ariv. “It was planned deliberately in a location that would create a contiguous Arab settlement to serve the additional Arab state in the heart of Eretz Israel. It also affects environmental quality and Israel’s mountain aquifer (underground water table).”
The road that will connect the Arab city of Ramallah to Rawabi runs south to north, and halfway through it crosses highway 465, the cross-Benjamin highway, the central access road to Ateret and Halamish.in West Benjamin.
In the future a tunnel will be dug at this junction, to allow Palestinians to drive under Route 465. But for the time being, the Ramallah-Rawabi road will connect directly to highway 465, which will become part of Ramallah-Rawabi for a mile and a half.
A member of the Benjamin residents’ committee explained that the entry and exit of vehicles to Palestinians from Highway 465 is done only with road signs and no traffic lights at the junction. “We know the wild manner of driving of many of the Palestinians,” he said. “Put them here on the road, and they’ll turn it into a major traffic artery, with us as moving targets on the highway.”
Jewish settlers fear another security aspect of heavy Palestinian traffic on the road. “It could be a major Palestinian event, or a funeral, causing serious traffic jams, and then if an Israeli vehicle is stuck inside a Palestinian convoy, it could end with very unpleasant consequences,” the source suggested.
Rawabi (“The Hills” in Arabic) is the first Palestinian planned city in Judea and Samaria, located near Ramallah and Bir Zeit. The master plan for the city calls for constructing 10,000 homes in six neighborhoods with a population of 40,000.
Over the course of two years, before construction began, the developers bought private property from 2,000 families living in Canada, Iraq, Spain, Kuwait, Britain, Portugal and Italy. The source of the city’s water supply is not yet clear, with the most obvious solution being hooking it up to Mekorot, the Israeli water utility, via the settlement of Ateret.
The Palestinian website The Electronic Intifada accused Bashar Masri, the Palestinian businessman and CEO of the company developing the “Rawabi luxury real estate project in the occupied West Bank,” of “actively helping Israel deepen its hold on the Palestinian economy despite his earlier claims that he is trying to help end this relationship.” This because “a dozen Israeli companies have been contracted to take part in the construction of Rawabi.”