City Planning in Jerusalem

Urban planning in the Municipality of Jerusalem could call itself “Terrestrial Jerusalem” based on a long-standing phrase from the Jewish tradition. Try pronouncing “Yerushalayim de’le’Tata” – yeh roo shah LIE yim dĕ lĕ TAH tah.

The literal translation of this Aramaic phrase is “Jerusalem of Below.”

Jerusalem Below
Jerusalem Below

We humans try to develop the earthly Jerusalem consistent with the values of the Divine Jerusalem – Jerusalem of Above.

So what constitutes the Jerusalem of Above?

Patience, my friend.


I feel justified in having stolen the original logo from a disreputable organization. I made significant changes such as rewriting a Hebrew language title with this traditional one in Aramaic.

What looks like Arabic script is nonsense. I scrambled the original Arabic title into figures that are not Arabic letters. This line of figures represents the character of a holy Jerusalem that illuminates the entire world.

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The Oslo Accord

Doesn’t anyone remember the Oslo Accord of 1995 (known as Oslo II)?

The State of Israel signed a treaty with the internationally recognized representative of the Palestinians. Palestinians had officially decided that only Yasser Arafat and his Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) were authorized to negotiate on their behalf.

Both sides to the treaty signed, with several nations adding their authorized signatures as witnesses. The signing ceremony was televised and received plenty of air-time.

Israel’s military occupation remains intact on land that was designated Area C. Area C’s status has remained virtually the same as it had been since the Six-Day War in 1967.

The Oslo process since 1995 has failed, though. Nevertheless, the Oslo Accord of 1995 is the law of the region.

There has ceased to be a “Green Line” except in terms of defining the extent of the Accord. The Green Line had been the cease-fire line between Jordan’s military, the Arab Legion, and the State of Israel. Since the Oslo Accord, the Kingdom of Jordan signed a treaty with Israel and thereby renounced its illegal annexation of the West Bank (after 1949). Jordan has committed itself not to violate its international border by sending troops across this border.

Since its treaty with Israel, Jordan has conducted itself according to international law.

When Israel builds security barriers, it builds them within Area C where its military makes security decisions in accordance with the Oslo Accord.

Plaintiffs have brought a few cases before Israel’s High Court of Justice. This court has consistently ruled that the principle behind the security barriers is legal. On a couple of occasions, this court has elaborated stipulations that barriers not create undue or unnecessary hardships for Palestinians.

A couple of rulings of Israel’s High Court of Justice have ordered Israel’s military to develop plans for relocating a barrier according to the court’s stipulations. The court has exercised its authority to examine and approve the revised plans.

Palestinians still don’t recognize the legitimacy of the designation Area C. It is, according to them, “their land” even before any future negotiations with Israel.

The international community, especially the United Nations, have blithely ignored articles in the Oslo Accord. When Israel tears down new Palestinian construction, this construction is in Area C.

A popular refrain from Palestinians has been how hard it is for them to get building permits. This is not surprising since they have no standing to receive permits to build  anything in Area C at all.

Most journalists are blissfully ignorant of law when they cover issues, wherever in the world an issue arises. Even Israelis who receive information from domestic journalistic sources seem to remain ignorant of the terms of the Oslo Accord.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, “there are lies, damn lies, and journalism.”

We’ve seen this before

In the last months of the U.S. President’s last term in office, he wants to leave a legacy of having negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu (June 27, 2016, in Italy). They discussed a range of issues including efforts to advance a two state solution, Syria, and developments in the region.

Of course, Mr. Netanyahu would want to discuss events in Syria and “developments in the region” – whatever this refers to.

As for a “two state solution” – that boat sailed about ten years ago.

Jews evacuated Gaza during August and September 2005. This was an Israeli disengagement – Gaza was no longer occupied by the Israeli military.

Gazans regularly had been firing Qassam rockets before the Israeli withdrawal, and the frequency of Qassam attacks increased after the withdrawal.

Neither the U.S. or the UN paid attention to how each rocket was a violation of Israel’s sovereignty. I’m not researching the details of other violations such as tunnels and incursions by terrorist troops.

Israel attacked Gaza with full force several times since 2005 between periods of patience over Gaza’s aggression.

On what basis does Gaza deserve to be a nation state?

Now let’s examine the possibility of a pluralistic Palestinian state. Just as Israel has Arab citizens, a pluralistic Palestine would have Jewish citizens.

This is unimaginable for Palestinians. Jews must go.

What this amounts to is an evacuation of 100-120 Jewish villages (called settlements) whose combined population was about 104,000 (as of 2011). We see that the average population of each village is about 1,000 Jews.

Israel on its part has no intention of evacuating the handful of cities along the east side of the 1949 cease-fire line. The Camp David negotiations proposed that these cities or blocs of towns would become part of Israel, be annexed. Since then, no diplomatic proposals have considered anything other than annexing these urban regions to Israel. The population of these blocs of cities is about an additional 148,000 (as of 2010).

The idea of a Palestinian state – the two state solution – was never a proposal for peace. It has been a resolve by Palestinians to reverse time, moving back almost 50 years. Each American president knew this or should have understood this.

In the last months of President Obama’s last term in office, it seems that he wants to leave a legacy of having negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

In the last months of President Clinton’s last term in office, he wanted to leave a legacy of having negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians. That was the abortive Camp David Summit of July 2000 – an effort to end the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

For some reason, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel agreed to attend this summit. What was he thinking?

Now, 16 years later, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

What are Mr. Kerry and PM Netanyahu thinking? A new president will be elected in a little more than four months from the time of the Kerry-Netanyahu talks (as I write this).

In a little more than four months from now, Mr. Kerry will be transitioning the State Department for a new administration.

Every Representative in Congress faces an election except for the few who have chosen not to run for reelection.

One third of the Senators face an election except for the few who have chosen not to run.

For Mr. Clinton, in his time, the summer until the election and then the period before the inauguration the next winter were his play time.

President Obama hasn’t been much of a player, and he and Mr. Netanyahu don’t play well together. But, Secretary of State John Kerry discussed efforts to advance a two state solution.

Haven’t we been here before?

The Golan Heights have not always been part of Syria

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, Britain and France divided an immense sweep of Southwest Asia (the Near East or the Middle East in European parlance) into two mandates, the spheres of influence that they coveted. The French were to administer Syria and Lebanon. The British were to administer Palestine, Trans-Jordan, and Iraq (again in European parlance).

In the first treaties after the war, the British were to administer the lower slope of Golan Heights as part of Palestine. In 1923, a comprehensive agreement, the last Treaty of Lausanne, included negotiations with the new Republic of Turkey. At this time, France and Britain adjusted the border by exchanging the Golan – to France – for a nearby region around Metula – to Mandated Palestine.

For sources see: National Geographic. 2008. Atlas of the Middle East, Second Edition (Washington, DC) p. 98.  Also: Dan Smith. 2016. The Penguin State of the Middle East Atlas, Third Edition. New York: Penguin Books, p. 36-37.

The locals who lived on the Golan slope – who were not Jewish – were unhappy. Either they did not want to live under French administration or they didn’t see themselves as having much in common with Syria.

As has been typical, the Great Powers drew and have been drawing Middle Eastern borders without consulting the people most closely affected.

When Israel conquered the Golan Heights in 1967, remaining descendants of the post-World-War-I residents no longer had to live under Syrian rule.

Also in 1967, virtually the entire watershed of the Galilee was contained in one jurisdiction. When the State of Israel applied Israeli law to the Golan Heights in 1981, the entire region, on both sides of the upper Jordan River, was unified politically with defensible borders and one legal system.

In 1967, the Jordan Valley Unified Water Plan, originating in the 1950s, began to serve the primary stakeholders – Jordan and Israel. The Syrians and Lebanese had only been interfering by diverting water from both Israel and Jordan in violation of their agreements to the Water Plan.

In addition, Syria and Lebanon had not been interested in eradicating malaria from the Huleh Valley. Again, they were not stakeholders. I shouldn’t have to note that mosquitoes carrying malaria do not recognize political arrangements.

I do note that the Hasbani River rises in Lebanon and runs for 25 miles before it enters Israel. Lebanese stakeholders are partners in the Unified Water Plan, but the Arab League does not recognize this agreement and encourages mischievous violations within Lebanon.

Also of note:  People who live in the Dara’a Governorate of southwestern Syria, as well as Jordanians, are stakeholders in the water resources of the lower reaches of the Jordan River. Syria’s Dara’a Governorate abuts the Golan Heights south of Syria’s Quneitra Governorate. The Quneitra Governorate lies partly in the disengagement zone between Syria and Israel along the plateau ridge of Israel’s upward slope of the Golan. Dara’a was an early site of conflict in the Syrian civil war, 2011.

The Medicare Deduction Rate Is Too Low

Currently, the Federal Government deducts 6.2 percent of our wages to set aside for future Social Security benefits.

At the same time, the Federal Government only deducts 1.45 percent of wages to pay for Medicare expenses. It’s no wonder that Medicare is underfunded.

Most of us who qualify for Social Security benefits enroll in the Medicare program. According to life expectancy figures, we can expect that an American born today will be receiving Medicare benefits for about 14 years.

Life expectancy at birth in the United States is now about 77 years old for men and 81 years old for women – overall 79 years. These figures are averages – about half of Americans born today will have died before these life expectancy figures while about half will live longer. (If I understand this subject correctly.)

However, this current figure of 14 years is deceptive. Today, the median age of Americans who are 65 years and older (2010 census) is about 74. An American alive today, then, can expect to receive Medicare benefits for about 9 years, still a considerable length of time.

In addition. one out of every four Medicare dollars is spent on the frail in their last year of life.


The 2010 census established that the entire population of the US is about 309 million. During the previous ten years, the total population grew by about 9.7 percent, but the population of those of us who are 65 years or older grew by about 15.1%. * Death in the United States is being postponed.

Today, about 13% of all Americans are 65 years or older (2010 census) – about 40 million of us. Of these 40 million, 5.5 million are 85 years or older.

  • * In part, the older population has grown because the large number of baby boomers are entering their “retirement years.” The overall growth of the American population consists of births and immigration. What the population who will be eligible for Medicare will look like in distant years is impossible to predict with much accuracy. Will the birth rate go up or down? Will immigration rules be tightened or loosened?