web analytics
April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘housing’

Red Miracle Van

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

The Schwartzes had three vehicles but only two drivers. At any given time the third vehicle, the 2005 red Ford van, could be seen on different driveways throughout the neighborhood – and sometimes even in Miami Beach and Hollywood, Florida. The Schwartzes kept a third vehicle, knowing that not everyone had a car.

Many people come to South Florida because of the excellent medical care, and while there they must deal with the cost of housing and food – and the loss of income. The Schwartzes wanted such people to at least be sure they had transportation and didn’t have to rely on renting a car or paying for a cab.

They first came up with the idea when Rabbi Rosen was in town for a liver transplant. The rabbi’s family was with him and they didn’t have transportation to get around. The Schwartzes realized Rabbi Rosen was saddled with many concerns and although they couldn’t solve all of them, transportation was one burden they could remove. For the few months that the Rosens were in town, they drove the red Ford van.

When other people were in town for medical procedures, they drove the red Ford van as well. When a member of the community lost his job and couldn’t afford to replace his car, the red Ford van showed up in his driveway. When someone had an accident and the insurance didn’t cover a rental, the red Ford van appeared in his driveway. The red van was a lifesaver to many people.

One day, Mr. Schwartz’s sister was in town and took the Schwartz children with her. An accident occurred and the van was totaled. No one knew how anyone got out of that van alive, but none of the Schwartzes or the driver received so much as a scratch.

The Schwartzes’ van was always a lifesaver for everyone. Perhaps that’s why it was a lifesaver for them.

Entire Family Incinerated in Rehovot Fire

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Less than two weeks before Passover, a terrible disaster destroyed an entire family in a fire that consumed a two-room housing unit in the town of Rehovot.

Six members of the Shaer family died: the father Guy, 38, and five children, ages 18 months to 11.

Fire officials said that when they arrived, they discovered a horrible sight. “Although we arrived quickly at the crowded street of this small neighborhood, but by the time we had entered the place, we already fund the dead children,” said one firefighter. “The severe consequences resulted from the rapid spread of the fire, and we weren’t able to attempt any rescue effort.”

The Shaer family moved into the apartment a few weeks ago to be close to Mrs. Shaer’s mother who lives in a nearby building. Guy and his wife, Avivit, a teacher at the Tzivia Ulpana in Rehovot, were with the grandmother when the fire broke out. Guy rushed into the house to save his children but was killed himself. Avivit was not injured in the fire, but collapsed and went into shock. Social workers were assigned to her, to try and calm her. Mayor Tahamim Melloul, ordered his Welfare Division to assist the mother as much as possible.

Guard Our Freedom

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Cutting-edge technology is a double-edged sword. Under the mantle of progress, and with increasing ease, we are losing greater and greater slices of our freedom. Opponents of the proposed Biometric Law say they worry about how secure a database housing the biometric information of all of Israel’s citizens will be. That fear was recently confirmed when a Saudi Arabian hacker succeeded in breaking into supposedly secure Israeli websites. If the Foreign Ministry’s database, along with the Israeli credit card base, were broken into, it is safe to assume that the biometric database will also be compromised.

The possibility of breaking into the database is simply too strong of a temptation for powerful interest groups and tycoons, who are sure to find a way to get to this data. The same is true for the crazy idea to computerize the elections. If there is a stage in the vote-counting process during which a candidate or his representative cannot physically check the voter slip, it is exactly at that stage that the election will be compromised. There is no way around the fact that when election results are transferred in electronic files, election fraud becomes a simple task. In the U.S., the idea of digital voting has become so controversial that it is no longer a political debate – but rather a legal issue.

But my opposition to the Biometric Law goes a lot deeper than that.

Many years before the invention of computers and the unraveling of the genetic code, an argument developed in the U.S. around the question of identity cards. America’s Founding Fathers did all they could to ensure that the American Constitution would protect individual liberties at any price.

For the Founding Fathers, liberty superseded all other values. They engraved it on their flag and fought for it. It is liberty that gave them the most important thing of all: a goal and sense of national purpose that fueled the creation of the American nation. The founding fathers understood how easy it is to slide down a slippery slope whereby liberty slips away step by step, without anyone noticing.

Distrust of governmental authority is a value that the Founding Fathers engraved through every line of the Constitution and American culture. It is for this reason that the simple question of requiring citizens to carry identity cards became a judicial matter in the United States. Americans said, “No way am I going to let the state treat me as a number on its list, and require me to identify according to this number. My identity is exactly that – my identity – and it does not belong to anyone else.” For the Israeli citizen, this sounds absurd, for we grew up in a culture far removed from this type of liberty consciousness.

Does all this seem irrelevant? Let us do a little test, so that you can see how easy it is to lose your liberty:

If the Biometric Law proponent, Kadima MK Meir Sheetrit, pushed through a law requiring every one of you to go to a certified tattoo center and ink in a number on your shoulder, would you agree to that? Of course not. Even thinking about this brings up horrifying memories.

But if the tattoo centers used invisible ink, would you then agree? In that case, I think many people would agree. The law is the law, right?

If they were to tattoo you with invisible ink and offer you some perks in return – cutting lines, property tax breaks, and more –would you agree? In my opinion, more than half would agree to that – and maybe even more.

Now for the final question: If instead of ink they use a biometric technique that marks you without touching you, and on top of that they give you the perks previously mentioned – are you then willing? I’m confident that the overwhelming majority of people would agree to that.

Look at how, with amazing ease, they have shut off all of our warning lights and closed our eyes. The master of the house has chiseled our ear into the doorpost like a biblical slave, and just like that we’ve made a soft landing into a life of servitude.

The Saudi hacker is not the real issue. The real issue is how easy it is to lose your liberty without feeling a thing. So guard it with the greatest vigilance, and do not give anyone your biometric information. As for the Saudi hacker, if his attack has at least awakened us to understand this danger, he has done us a great service.

In Israel, Economic Concerns Mount – But Who Will Benefit Politically?

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

JERUSALEM – “It’s the economy stupid” was how American political strategist James Carville once summed up the defining issue in U.S. presidential elections. But in Israel, besieged by enemy nations and locked into an ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, security has traditionally trumped all other political agendas. Until now.

In part because of a sharp decrease in West Bank terrorism and the relative quiet in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, Israelis have begun to turn their attention from security concerns to economic ones. Some believe this may help Labor and Meretz, parties that have failed to garner wide support for their dovish positions on security matters but may have more appeal when it comes to socioeconomic issues.

“This is the first time since I began writing 23 years ago that there is a chance this election will not be about hawks and doves but about social justice and how the fiscal budget should be split up,” said Daniel Ben-Simon, a former journalist and parliamentarian from the Labor Party.

His party head, Shelly Yachimovich, has been articulating a social democratic economic policy that aspires to promote more social justice and equality and less “piggish capitalism.”

Demonstrations last summer that protested exorbitant housing prices, high costs for basic necessities and growing income inequality managed to mobilize an unprecedented number of Israelis. Called the J14 Movement (after the July 14 date it began), the protest drew more than 400,000 Israelis into the streets.

“The J14 movement was and is a crucial moment where the people in this country started to look within and think about themselves as individuals,” said Daphni Leef, who sparked the protest through a Facebook campaign. “They rejected the concept, ‘as long as you are alive don’t complain.’ ”

The demonstrations continue to have an impact. It was largely due to an increased sensitivity to social justice that the Histradrut labor federation, Israel’s largest workers’ union with strong ties to the Labor Party, succeeded in launching a strike last week to champion the rights of outsourced, temporary, or contracted workers. For years the workers have suffered from low wages, a lack of job security and no pension benefits. Unlike past strikes, there was wide public support for the Histadrut’s battle for contracted workers.

“We enjoyed a lot of backing – on Facebook, on the streets, in the news media,” Histadrut spokeswoman Dafna Cohen said of the five-day work stoppage, which ended Sunday with contract workers receiving a minimum monthly wage and other benefits. “People who had their flights delayed, could not conduct transactions at the bank or suffered from the strike in other ways showed a lot of empathy and solidarity with us. It was heartwarming.”

Still, a military conflagration – such as an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities – would be an instant game-changer. A precedent exists in the run-up to the 2009 national elections when Meretz, aware that its dovish positions on security and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict were unpopular, pushed a social-democratic platform.

But then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert launched Operation Cast Lead in an effort to stop the rocket-fire and mortar shells from Hamas-controlled Gaza. The 22-day military operation pushed security issues to the forefront and rendered Meretz’s socioeconomic platform irrelevant. Meretz ended up with just three Knesset seats, down from five.

Even if socioeconomic issues become a central issue in the upcoming elections, it is not clear that parties such as Labor or Meretz will be its beneficiaries. Lior Chorev, a political strategist from the centrist Kadima Party, predicted that the renewed interest in socioeconomic issues would not necessarily strengthen Labor and Meretz.

“Like Occupy Wall Street, this summer’s protesters were naive in the sense that they did not offer any specific solutions,” Chorev said. “They were just a bunch of people – many of them professionals – who do not want to change the social order, just make life a little better for themselves. Nobody wants to go back to socialism.”

Also, despite all the criticism, the Israeli economy under Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government appears remarkably healthy. Unemployment is below 6 percent, compared to slightly above 8 percent in the United States and 10 percent in the European Union. Israel’s GDP grew 4.8 percent in 2011 and the Bank of Israel is predicting another 2.8 percent gain in 2012.

And the Netanyahu government has been responsive to public concern about the economy. Even before the protests, Netanyahu instituted reforms aimed at bringing down the cost of housing. The National Housing Committee Law, which was passed by the Knesset in August, will streamline the process of allocating and zoning land for housing and provide financial aid to families buying or renting homes.

Netanyahu also established a committee to consider ways of combating the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few dozen tycoons. And in the wake of the protests, the Trajtenberg Committee was established and has presented a number of suggestions to help the middle class, the centerpiece of which was free preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds.

United Torah Judaism MK to Livni: ‘You’re Our Enemy’

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler told Opposition leader and Kadima MK Tzipi Livni that she was “our enemy” Wednesday in a stormy Knesset debate over affordable housing.

Eichler made the comment in response to Livni’s haranguing of Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias of Shas for balking at granting affordable housing priority to those households where both partners work: “The housing minister’s decision is an insult to those [protesters] who went out to the streets.”

At this point in her remarks Eichler accused Livni of ceaselessly harassing the ultra-orthodox public, and continued to interrupt her until Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin ordered him removed from the session. Eichler shouted at Livni as he exited, saying “you’re our enemy.”

Housing Protestors Arrested in Tel Aviv

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

A demonstration for cheaper housing in Tel Aviv Saturday night led to 23 arrests, including the leader of the group, Stav Shaffir.

The 600-man protest took place in the Gan Hatikva neighborhood in south Tel Aviv.  Police called the gathering of protesters which had encamped on the sight illegal, and intended to evacuate the site on Sunday morning.  However, because protestors set fire to garbage bins and blocked intersections at Hagana, Yigal Allon, and Lod streets, police moved in Saturday night to disperse the crowd.

Organizers of the Hatikva encampment argued that their site became not only a socio-political statement about public displeasure over the cost of housing, but became a home to disenfranchised Israelis.  “The Hatikva tent encampment has served as a home for the past six months for single mothers, families, parents, children, and the elderly, homeless and the direct victims of the establishment’s unsympathetic and irresponsible policies,” organizers said in a press release.  They demanded that the government provide alternative housing options.

Some protest leaders criticized the arrests, suggesting police would not have arrested them if they had been ultra-orthodox Hareidi or “price tag settlers” from Judea and Samaria.

The New Settlements

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

           Predictably, the recent Israeli announcements about new construction in Har Homa in Jerusalem and the West Bank drew sharp criticism from the Palestinians and the Obama administration.

 

The common theme was that such actions were impediments to the resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians leading to a settlement of their longstanding dispute.

 

From the Palestinians, who can be expected to try to milk every situation, this is not surprising. The fact that they are insisting – thanks to President Obama – on an announced complete construction freeze and Israeli acceptance of pre-1967 lines as preconditions for any resumption of talks was to be expected, if not welcomed.

 

But what of the Obama administration which is supposed to be an honest broker?

 

As we point out in our second editorial this week, the Palestinian Authority is underwriting, if not fostering, Palestinian terror against Jews. It has also plainly accepted as a given the continued viability of Hamas as an element in any agreement despite the requirement of the so-called road map that the PA must dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. And of course until President Obama mentioned his support for it, the Palestinians never insisted on a freeze as such a big deal. Moreover, the almost year-long construction freeze declared by Israel – which the PA had not even insisted on until Mr. Obama made it an issue – never drew a reciprocal gesture from the Palestinians.

 

To be sure, the U.S. reaction to the construction announcements was relatively muted. A comment by a State Department spokesman on the Ariel approvals was revealing: “These kinds of actions are counterproductive to the resumption of direct negotiations. We have raised this issue with the Israeli government. We will continue to make our position known.”

 

The State Department’s statement on the issuance of housing permits in East Jerusalem was similarly low key:

 

The United States is deeply concerned by continuing Israeli actions with respect to housing construction in Jerusalem. We have raised this issue with the Israeli government and continue to make our position known. As we have said before, unilateral actions work against efforts to resume direct negotiations and contradict the logic of a reasonable and necessary agreement between the parties, We believe that through good faith direct negotiations, the parties should agree on an outcome that realizes the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem and safeguards its unique religious status for people around the world.

            No fire and brimstone, though we duly note the reference to a deal that “realizes the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem.” What was needed was a clear statement from the U.S. that the Palestinians need to be more forthcoming and stop pursuing their unilateral September UN recognition ploy in place of substantive negotiations.

Some Thoughts On Israel’s Housing Crisis

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

            Who caused Israel’s housing shortage? The Left. That sounds demagogic, but here’s the reason why:


 

The State of Israel’s control of most of Israel’s land is the result of ideology. Since the Second Aliyah, the Zionist movement – followed by the State of Israel – has been motivated by leftist centrist ideology. This philosophy has helped create the greatest monopoly in Israel today, the monopoly of the Israel Land Authority over almost all of Israel’s land.

 

Ironically, the ideology that created the problem is the same one that is behind the country’s current housing protest. The solutions that it proposes will only intensify the problem because the protesters are calling for more of what originally caused the problem.

 

The two major factors that caused the crisis in the construction market are the state monopoly on land and the building freeze on Israel’s most natural and logical land reserves in Judea and Samaria.

 

And what are the protesters calling for? Exactly the same thing: To empower the state’s monopoly, and to flee Judea and Samaria once and for all. They want the state to build houses and rent them. They want everything to belong to the state, which will decide who will receive housing and who will not. This state of affairs would mean that we, the people, would not have responsibility, nor would we enjoy the Torah’s prescription of liberty. Liberty is very different from simple freedom. Liberty means taking responsibility.

 

The protesters not only want to empower the monopoly, but want something else. The New Israel Fund that is bankrolling this display of pseudo-anarchism could not care less about the housing shortage. Its real goal is to depose the Likud and bring about new elections that will complete the process of tearing Israel’s heartland out of its borders. This will deal the final blow to any chance of solving the housing shortage.

 

The Globes Newspaper website featured a short and simple film that outlined how the building freeze in Judea and Samaria was the straw that broke the camel’s back of Israel’s housing market.

 

The film makes the following points: Rabin, Peres, Beilin and company gave Israel’s heartland to Arafat. And the Oslo Accords halted the construction of infrastructure in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. (But in Tel Aviv, it was thought that this was the way to bring peace – while crushing the settlers for good measure.

 

Despite the halt in infrastructure construction and the total elimination of new construction planning in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, construction of housing based on existing plans in the settlements continued. Construction in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, that at some points had provided Israel with more than 20 percent of its housing reserves, shrunk to approximately five percent.

 

At that point, there were still housing and construction reserves inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders (and in Tel Aviv, it was thought that housing in tents was strictly the problem of the settlers). Afterwards, it was decided to destroy Gush Katif, which dispatched another 1,700 homeless families into the housing market. This still did not paralyze the market.

 

And then came the knockout punch that completely blocked the housing channels and threw the entire country into a housing crisis: The building freeze in Judea and Samaria.

 

The protests by the young generation in Judea and Samaria, who wanted to continue to live where they were raised, interested nobody in Tel Aviv. Quite to the contrary. They were only too happy to watch the destruction of the tents and shacks that began to grow on the hills of Judea and Samaria.

 

But now, when construction in Judea and Samaria provides only 0.2 percent of construction in Israel, Tel Aviv’s young generation also finds itself in tents. When fellow housing protesters had the nerve to declare that the solution for the housing crisis is to build in Samaria, they were beaten back.

 

All for the sake of peace, of course.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/some-thoughts-on-israels-housing-crisis-2/2011/08/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: