Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Modi'in residents try to keep away Arabs with fee to public park

Imagine, if you will the following article from Haaretz...
Modi'in residents try to keep away Arabs with fee to public park

The park, near the center of the city, features grassy areas, a lake with paddleboating, a large playground and is currently open to all, with no parking or entrance fees.

Modi'in residents want the municipality to institute an entrance fee to the city's Park Anabe, which they think may stem the flow of Arabs from surrounding towns to the popular park.

The park, near the center of the city, features grassy areas, a lake with paddleboating, a large playground and is open to all, with no parking or entrance fees. Since opening last year it has becoming a popular idyll for city residents and outsiders, including Arab residents of nearby villages.

Recently, a Facebook page was started by residents calling for a fee. Last week, online forums serving the city became populated with calls for the park to be cleaned up and a debate over the institution of a fee for outsiders, eventually sparking a petition.

"If someone wants to enjoy the facilities, they are welcome, but it is appropriate that they pay!" the petition reads. "There is an absurdity in Modi'in where the citizens no longer visit the site because it is overcrowded and dirty. This must be brought to an end."

As of yesterday the online petition had garnered 60 signatures.

Avi Elbaz, a former city council member active in the Free Modi'in NGO, wants the city to maintain a secular character. He says that "there is an awakening here, and I have also experienced it. [At the park], every night there is a celebration of hundreds of Arab families coming here. They come in masses, with organized transportation from all over."

Elbaz says those who take the most from the park are outsiders.

"The citizens of [Modi'in] paid with their taxes for the construction of the park, while those who mostly enjoy the use of the park are outsiders, and it does not really matter if they are Arab or others," Elbaz said. "Some of the city residents avoid going to the park because of the crowding with the Arab families which come there in droves. They leave a lot of trash behind them, disorder and dirt. They do not clean and do not upkeep the place, and do not pay for the payments made by the municipality each month for cleaning the place and upkeep."

A quick visit to the park revealed that indeed, the place is crowded in the summer. People are there from Taibe, Teira, Kfar Qassam and other areas.

Charging for a park would run counter to a 2007 decision that parks cannot charge fees. That year the the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee rejected an Interior Ministry proposal to alter the rules governing entrance fees for parks following a legal challenge to the Ra'anana park's practice of charging an entrance fee. Following the decision, Ra'anana instead began charging non-residents for parking near the park, an idea that some in Modi'in would like to see in their city as well.

The municipality admits that the situation is problematic, saying they can't restrict entry, but cleanup and maintenance in the summer is costly. But they say residents need not fear the Islamification of the city.

"We do not advertise the park too much," a municipality source said. "It is convenient that it is known only to the local residents and those of nearby communities. However, some of the residents are experiencing a genuine phobia against Arabs, especially those who fled Jaffa, and now fear that they will have to flee the turning of Modi'in into an Arab town. This is not the case."

In its official response the municipality said that the park sees thousands of visitors daily and is well-maintained. But they added charging for parking is not an option. "The municipality has set up three parking areas, with the cooperation of Israel Railroads nearby, and we have no intention of limiting parking or charging a fee for it," the city said.
Actually, the above article in Haaretz did appear, right here! The only difference is that I swapped the word "Ultra Orthodox/Chareidi" with the word "Arab".

I doubt the above article would ever have appeared in Haaretz, with the same tone towards pluralistic Modi'in. Note the pluralistic, anti-Chareidi talkbacks...who would never dare say a racist word about Arabs.


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18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was just in that park with my brother and his children (who live in a different area and are "chareidim") and the park seemed very well-kept and clean.... (And we made sure to thrw our garbabge out :)

Justin said...

I live in modi'in, and while this is clearly racist, it's also a real problem. The park was created using local taxes, and we are very proud of it. But "visitors" come, and don't show a great deal of derech eretz. The park is left in bad shape, and several locals get harassed (yes actually harassed).

Charging for the park would be a double bonus. It would keep out people who just see it as a cheap destination and it would also raise fund for maintenance and improvements.

Risa said...

Sorry Jameel,
It's not a very friendly thing to do. I don't know if there are precedents for charging admission to public parks but on the face of it I would be against it, whether it is to keep the Arabs or the Charedim out. Just because Ha'aretz wrote it doesn't make it wrong.

Critically Observant Jew said...

While I agree that Haaretz wouldn't write such a thing about Arabs, but in essence, they're right. Just because the nearby Chareidi municipalities do not have such parks, that does not mean that the nearby secular municipalities should shoulder that burden.

While I'm not sure that an entrance fee should be charged; however I would recommend charging for parking around the park, or, allowing for annual parking pass for outsiders.

The income from tickets / parking passes would discourage the outside use of the park and bring revenue at the same time.

Confused said...

Risa: Sorry Jameel,
It's not a very friendly thing to do. I don't know if there are precedents for charging admission to public parks but on the face of it I would be against it, whether it is to keep the Arabs or the Charedim out. Just because Ha'aretz wrote it doesn't make it wrong.


Risa, I don't understand what you're saying. You say that "just because Ha'aretz wrote it doesn't make it wrong". I presume that by this, you mean that Modi'in's park policy is not wrong (and that you disagree with Jameel, who thinks that their policy is wrong). But you also say that "it's not a very friendly thing to do", and that you "would be against it". This sounds like you do think Modi'in's park policy is wrong, (in which case you agree with Jameel).

Which one is it?

anneinpt said...

Park Raanana charges (or at least used to charge) entrance fees for non-Raanana residents. I don't think Park Petach Tikva charges a fee (yet).

Eliyahu said...

The park in Afula recently started charging entrance fees to non-residents, because Arabs from Nazareth and other surrounding villages kept coming en masse and leaving behind garbage.

Orange and Black said...

I have no problem with a park not charging an entrance fee to local residents who pay taxes to upkeep it, and only charging visitors, I have a problem when the problem is expressed as "keeping out the chareidim", my family is large, is not messy or dirty and that is the stereotype they are expressing here and that is ugly.

Islam said...

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LI Reader said...

Interesting and funny(?) contrast:

This is your headline for this story:
"Modi'in residents try to keep away Arabs with fee to public park"

But the headline on Yeshiva World News for this same story is: "Modi’in Residents Try To Keep Away Chareidim With Fee To Public Park"

Arabs? Or Chareidim? Or are both undesirable?

LI Reader said...

I'm sorry for what I just posted. I should have read to the end. (But I won't trust your headlines in the future.)

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Shmilda said...

The funny part is that a supposedly serious newspaper wrote a story about a Facebook page with 60 likes, and blogs (who should know better) keep harping on it. Is a Facebook page with 60 likes really newsworthy? That kind of reporting is what I would expect from the Jewish Week.

josh said...

Raanana park didn't charge entrance fees two weeks ago for us non-Raanana visitors, including the fun area built for special needs kids that has signs saying 'friends/members only'.

There is a parking lot that charges seven days a week, but there is also a dirt lot across the street.

Anonymous said...

Ha! You sure missed with that one, didn't you??

Friar Yid (not Shlita) said...

I am generally opposed to public parks charging fees at all, and all the more so when the fee is openly designed to keep certain groups from using it.

At the same time, I wonder what solutions Jameel or JoeSettler would offer to keep the park clean and pleasant. Dialogue with the groups coming regularly from out of town? Park police presence to enforce public standards?

Just wondering...

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Hi Friar Yid:

Solutions include;

- Big Signs (also in Yiddish) advising guests to keep the park clean, with the threats of heavy fines.

- Park police

- If nothing else works, a few park police rangers with skimpy outfits will be enough to keep away most Chareidim.

Islam said...

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Allah
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