Jerusalem Levels of Security

It was a very warm summer night and the line of large SUVs idling on the side of the street spewed off clouds of hot exhaust as their drivers sat waiting inside with the motors and air conditioning running.

Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, was hosting US presidential candidate Barak Obama for dinner. I don’t remember where I was coming home from late at night, but I took the shortcut down Smolenskin Street past #9, walking past the Israeli Prime Minister’s official residence on the street corner of Balfour Street.

For over four years, I have wanted to write about how the levels of security have increased. With the events of the past week now is finally the time.

View of Old City walls in Jerusalem Israel at sunset

The walls around the Old City of Jerusalem were for security. The Tower of David was used for defense until 1918 when the British first used the Citadel for cultural, not military purposes.

These ‘dragon teeth,’ the bollards of yesteryear, were collected from various locations and placed across from Gan Haaztzmaut, Independence Park.

One remains on Agron Street, but this photo is from a post four years ago, shared when writing about security for a Presidential Trump visit.

Also four years ago, I was able to get one photo of the then new black curtain put up near the Israeli Prime Minister’s Residence.

Year by year in Jerusalem new levels of security have been put in place.

New security at Beit Hanasi Jerusalem

Not only near the Prime Minister’s Residence but four years ago at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, a new security screen was added to block the view from the street.

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Today there are bollards and a new security entrance, and guards.

White security tent for Leningrad dedication in Jerusalem Sacher Park

It may seem like ages ago, but the security for the January 2020 visit of the 49 world leaders for the Holocaust Remembrance took weeks to assemble.

Security in Old city near Western Wall

The increased security near the Kotel, Western Wall is well known.

Western Wall Plaza clear for VP Pence visit

Two years ago, the security for the official visit of Vice-President Mike Pence was extraordinary!

Entrance to Jaffa Gate

More than once this past year, security was increased at the gates of Old City due to the coronavirus lockdowns and distance limitations.

Protest Rally in Jerusalem Israel near Prime Minister's residence

There have been antigovernmental protests for months. The Saturday night events are loud and large and go long past noise time restriction limits.

However, last Shabbat protesters crossed a new line.

The main protest area near the Prime Minister’s Residence is across the street from Paris Square. It has been occupied for months by day as well the Saturday night noisy mega-events.

They are near this entrance to the street of the Prime Minister’s Residence.

This was a view of Smolenskin Street on Friday January 8, 2021.

The next morning on Shabbat, a van like this one blocked the street. Multiple border police officers were positioned there to make sure the demonstrators did not break through and get close to the building again.

By Friday, a new layer of security was added on Balfour Street.

Anyone needing a minyan of ten men to say kaddish could have tried here, as there was at least ten security personnel on hand.

Sorry, no photos of Shabbat, still no Shabbat camera.

However, Sunday morning the gate was open enough to get a peak inside.

It’s been a while since these simple barriers were used for the Prime Minister’s official security.

Now that type is used to warn of a bad spot in the sidewalk.

These are the new security barriers found around the neighborhood.

Solid and heavy, more each week, I will not bore you with dozens of photos.

But to leave you today on a more positive note, these barriers were used at a new art installation being prepared off Safra Square.

These are on top of the new National Library. I am obsessed with work on the roof throughout the past COVID-19 shutdowns and slowdown of this year. In the future, I plan to share more on the amazing project.

In Jerusalem this week, the scene at the US capitol was a quiet one.

The windows were open for fresh air at the Dan Panorama Hotel where travelers have been quarantined after arriving from overseas.

Roses are still in bloom in the winter sunshine and warm weather.

A great time to get out and explore, within a kilometer of home of course, the real Jerusalem streets.

Jerusalem After Holidays Now What?

Jerusalem After Holidays Now What?

What’s new in Jerusalem after the holidays?

Looking back at last year it seems much is the same. 

The universities are back in session.

A rocket from Gaza hit a home in Sderot.

Again, thankfully, the family was able to get to shelter and was not physically hurt.

View of Old City Jerusalem from other side of Yemin Moshe

Winter clouds hover over Jerusalem and the Old City as seen from Mishkenot Sha’ananim.

View from Yemin Moshe of Old City and road to Zion Gate

Holidays are over but tour buses line busy streets, coming and going from Zion Gate.

Houses Within in Jerusalem at Hansen House

The annual Jerusalem ‘Houses From Within’ was held at the end of October.

The sign was up for entry to the old leper hospital grounds, one of 200 sites open to the public.

But it is so different now, unlike the first tour nine years ago when it was in ruin.

Nine years ago the price of tomatoes made headlines, this year it is the scarcity of butter.

Jupiter and Moon in sky over Jerusalem Israel

Jupiter was in line with the moon. Crazy–this photo received hundreds of likes on Facebook.

Amazing. It is so fascinating what gets attention on social media.

The new moon and conferences galore begin as the holidays end.

The Herzl Conference on Contemporary Zionism ‘From Vision to Reality’ was a first-time event.

Jerusalem Har Herzl grave at night

The opening was held at night on Har Herzl close to Herzl’s final resting place, with the gravestone illuminated.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin

Former US Senator and Vice-Presidential Candidate Joe Lieberman was on the opening program, mentioning proudly that he has children and grandchildren who made aliyah.

Stanley Fischer at Herzl Conference in Jerusalem
Dr. Stanley Fischer was another featured speaker on the program, along with President Reuven Rivlin.

Leaders of Jewish Agency Board of Governors after showing of video remembering Pittsburgh

The annual Jewish Agency Board of Governors opened on a somber note with a powerful video remembering those murdered in Pittsburgh one year ago.

Prime Minister Netanyahu at Begin Center for Jewish Agency Board of Governors

PM Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the Jewish Agency Board of Governors at the Begin Center.

Begin Center security for Jewish Agency Board of Governors

There was security for the Prime Minister, this time I got a photo as they were taking it away.

Stephen Harper in Jerusalem for gala dedication for Hula Lake Park Visitor Center

Security was at a high level at the Waldorf Astoria. But, unlike most events, security let guests at the KKL-JNF Gala get close enough to photograph former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper seated next to the Netanyahus. The new KKL-JNF visitor center in Hula Lake Park is dedicated in Harper’s honor.

Though busy with government and election drama, President Rivlin hosted a special meeting on antisemitism at Beit Hanasi, the President’s Residence.

Elan Carr and President Rivlin at Beit Hanasi

US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism Elan Carr attended.

Panel on antisemitism at Beit Hanasi

The panel also included the UK – Lord Eric Pickles, France – Frederic Potier, Germany – Dr. Felix Klein, and European Commission – Katharina von Schurbein. The consensus was that education is the key to combating antisemitism. Opinions once considered fringe are becoming mainstream on campuses and they are spreading. The problem is not a Jewish one, but one for all humanity.

BLMJ Glorious Martyr exhibit

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem shared important finds from an excavation in Beit Shemesh. Though no one knows exactly who the ‘Glorious Martyr’ was, the dig exposed a large Byzantine church, filled with hundreds of glass pieces and stone lamps.

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem opening of Glorious Martyr

On opening night invited guests arrived to see the exhibition and hear from experts.

Seat of donor or high church official from Glorious martyr exhibit in BLMJ

A favorite object was this marble piece, probably the ‘seat’ of a high church official or donor.

Who knew hundreds of years ago donors had names on plaques in churches?

International Science Centers and Science Museum Day is November 11.

Jerusalem Science Museum play area

Look for free admission to the Bloomberg Science Museum and again the end of November.

The annual Piano Festival at the Jerusalem Theater is from November 13-16.

AniNation in Jerusalem street poster

But first will be the annual international Animation festival in Jerusalem – AniNation.

Science and tech and start-up conferences–always more happening on Jerusalem streets!

In honor of Aliyah Day, celebrated this week, time to share an old favorite.

Sign about learning to speak Hebrew

No government and elections looming.

Years of rockets from Gaza.

Serious threats from Lebanon and Iran.

Jordan, a very cold peace partner.

Rush hour traffic reaching nightmare levels.

Miracle in our times,

Am Yisrael Chai. 

 

Jerusalem, Israel: Climate Change

Jerusalem, Israel: Climate Change

What changes more dramatically than the winter weather in Jerusalem, Israel?

String Bridge top against blue sky

Though some do not love the Chord (or String) Bridge towering over the entrance to Jerusalem,  I think it’s an impressive image against a blue sky.

Jerusalem fog

But the winter fog was so thick on the way into the Jerusalem International Convention Center, the bridge was invisible.

Those construction fences for Jerusalem Gateway Project are constantly changing and spreading.

CEOs of Sodastream Daniel Birnbaum and Pepsico in Jerusalem

Inside the ICC on the main stage of the second day of the Globes Business Conference, SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum and Pepsico CEO Roman Laguarta appeared the best of buddies complimenting each other in their remarks. Their plans to change the business climate are impressive.

Men watching video at Globes Conference

Outside in the main hall, food and networking were available on both days. The room only became quiet when Sodastream commercials were shown. Dozens of speakers, experts on business and government leaders presented on the stage in the Teddy Auditorium and smaller venues in the convention center.

Except for the SodaStream – Pepsico segment, most of the business conference was held in Hebrew.

Arab woman speaking at Globes Business Conference

This panel dealt with the topic of disadvantages and challenges faced by women and what needs to change.

Globes Business Conference Tourism in future with Yariv Levin

MK Yariv Levin, Minister of Tourism, spoke at a session on the future of tourism.

Tourism in Jerusalem was rated number one in future growth in a new Bloomberg report. Positive change, with the trend of more tourists is felt daily on the Jerusalem streets and at locations such as Machane Yehuda Market, the shuk.

Prime Minister and President enter hall for new Governor of Bank of Israel

The Israeli economy has been stable and is viewed as positive.  The Prime Minister joined President Rivlin for the appointment of the new Governor of the Bank of Israel on Monday.

Ceremony for Bank of Israel new head Amir Yaron at Beit Hanasi

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon joined the President and Prime Minister to welcome Amir Yaron.

All smiles for the cameras in the morning.

By afternoon this was old news, and then not news, as the government folded.

Talk about change affecting the news cycle!

But at least this one appointment is for 5 years, and is not affected by April elections.

Pesach afternoon and egalitarian space at Western Wall was empty

This egalitarian area at the Western Wall, the Kotel, has gotten media attention, as part of Israel and Diaspora relations.

Area for media at Beit Hanasi for Gesher Fellows

Not as many cameras filled the photographers platform at Beit Hanasi for the Gesher Community Fellows as they did for the packed house of the Bank of Israel appointment.

Ruvi Rivlin and Asaf Liberman at Beit Hanasi for Gesher

President Rivlin was interviewed by Israeli radio’s Asaf Liberman, one of the first round of Israelis selected as a Gesher Fellow.

Gesher Fellows include Miriam Peretz at Beit Hanasi

Israeli Prize winner Miriam Peretz (seated on left) was another Gesher Fellow.

Israelis, of many fields, including the media, once chosen as Fellows, attend sessions, and travel to the US  in an attempt to bridge the gap with Diaspora Jewry, and improve the climate and mutual relations by understanding, with first-hand knowledge.

As Miriam Peretz urged that Israelis learn English, the Hebrew University, closed on December 25th, is contemplating switching instruction to English.

Jerusalem streets ads with one for December 31 music at Tower of David

Hebrew signs line the Jerusalem streets. One in the center announces the Tower of David celebration of the end of tax year.

Jerusalem street sign for Rambam exhibit at Israel Museum sign for Baka family run on top

The Israel Museum has a special new exhibit on the writings of the Rambam, Maimonides.

Someone posted a sign over the ad, for a Baka family run for the evening of December 26, as seen on the top right corner.

Jerusalem Theater

The Jerusalem Theater signs, plays, and performances are in Hebrew.

Jerusalem Israel milk cartoon with Hebrew language lesson

A Hebrew lesson on the milk carton? It is proper to say “Seehuhah” instead of “chat.”

Hebrew Language Day poster in Jerusalem Israel

Ha, ha, we will see how that works, even if December 27, is Hebrew Language Day.

Hebrew sign on sidewalk to clean up after dog

Yes, Hebrew on signs and on the Jerusalem, Israel sidewalks.

Are the winds for Hebrew language change strong enough to take effect?

As I sit here waiting for the winter weather to change again, I will end with two short videos from this past week.

At the Western Wall, the Kotel, after a special prayer service for recovery on seriously injured IDF soldier  Netanel Ilan ben Shaina Tzipora.

Singing slow Hebrew songs, they ended with Am Yisrael Chai. 

With government elections set for April, with jets flying over head last night to parts north, with enemies on and under our borders,

at the conclusion of the Bank of Israel program, all rose for singing of Hatikvah, The Hope.