A Strategic Group on Ultra-Orthodox – Non-Ultra-Orthodox Relations in Jerusalem – August 31, 2009

A Strategic Group on Ultra-Orthodox – Non-Ultra-Orthodox Relations in Jerusalem – August 31, 2009

Since the last post on this forum we convened twice more and concluded our in-depth discussion on housing issues in Jerusalem in the context of Haredi – non-Haredi relations in the city. This was not an easy task since while we were discussing long-term strategy the city experienced tensions between Haredi and non-Haredi populations, which resulted in riots in the streets. Such tensions could be easily reflected in our work. Yet, all participants in the forum made every effort to maintain our focus on the long-term issues. At the same time, many of the participants helped the JICC in the parallel behind-the-scenes process of responding to the riots and tensions.

During today’s meeting the detailed housing plan of the city was presented by the municipality, specifically highlighting potential housing solutions for Haredi and non-Haredi populations. It became obvious that while prospective areas for non-Haredi neighborhoods do exist, there aren’t enough options for Haredi neighborhoods. Obviously, this was bad news for the high-level Haredi participants. However, it was well understood that this may reflect negatively on all the others too, since in practicality it means that young Haredi couples will be forced to look for residential solutions in a number of other neighborhoods and tensions between the populations will continue. Yet, the mutual understanding of the problem created the motivation to demand of the municipality professional planners to increase their efforts to find better solutions. Hence, the process of solving the housing issues will be continued on the municipality level, with us at the background. We will communicate our conclusions to the decision makers, many of which are active members of the forum, and continue to our next topic of discussion – the tensions in Jerusalem. Stay tuned to read about our October meeting.

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