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March 1, 2013

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J PAGE 14A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 1,2013 I 'Why is it taking so long to form a government in Israel? By Linda Gradstein The Media Line It is now a full month since the Israeli public went to the polls, but the winner, Prime Minister Benjamin Netan- yahu, is not even close to forming a new government. He needs to reach the magic number of 61 parliament members out of a total of 120, who will join his coalition government. On Feb. 28, Netanyahu was to meet with Israel's President Shimon Peres. If he hasn't yet formed a gov- ernment, he will ask for an extension. A month later the two men will meet again. If by then, he still hasn't suc- ceeded, Israel will most likely go to new elections. Betting on the outcome of the coalition negotiations has become a parlor game for Israelis. So far, Netanyahu has signed an agreement with just one 'party--Ha- tenuah, headed by former foreign minister Tzippi Livni, who has been sharply critical of Netanyahu's politics. In exchange for b:inging her six seats to the table, Livni will become justice minister and will be in charge of negotiations with the Palestinians. The latter, by the way, goes against an explicit campaignstatement by Netanyahu that Livni, who has been pushing for a two- state solution of Israel next to a Palestinian state, will not be involved in negotiations with the Palestinians. Netanyahu apparently hoped that once Livni fell into line, other parties would be knocking on his door. He is especially interested in two new parties that emerged as winners in the election--the 19-seat centrist Yesh Atid HANDYMAN SERVICE Handy man and General Maintenance .Air Conditioning Electrical Plumbing Carpentry Formerly handled maintenancg at JCC References available STEVE'S SERVICES Call Steve Doyle at (386) 668-8960 headed by former television personality Yair Lapid and the 12-seat Habayit Hayehu- di, headed by Netanyahu's former chief of staff Naftali Bennett. On the face of it, these two parties have little in common. Lapid champions the secular middle class; Bennett's constituency is the settlers. But they have made a pact that they will only join the government together, and only if the government adopts a plan to "share the burden" of army service by drafting tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox young men who have received army deferments to study Jewish texts full-time. Two senior ultra-Orthodox rabbis, Aharon Leib Shtein- man and Shmuel Auerbach, both declared last week that they would never agree to al- lowing their students to join the army. Auerbach wrote the idea is "a decree to uproot the Torah," referring to the Hebrew word for the Bible. In Israel, men are drafted for three years and women for two. Most ultra-Orthodox and Arabs do not serve al- though they can volunteer. Together Bennett and Lapid have 31 seats--the same number as Netanyahu's alliance of Likud and Yisrael Beitenu (a Russian-speakers party headed by Avigdor Li- eberman, who has temporar- ily stepped down as foreign minister while on trial for corruption). "Netanyahu is much weak- er today than he was after the last electiofls," Eytan Gilboa, a professor of political sci- ence at Bar Ilan University, told The Meida Line. "He was hoping that bringing Livni into the government would break the alliance of Bennett and Lapid who have prime ministerial aspirations as well." Israel has a history of new parties emerging on the scene, getting strength from disaffected voters, failing to achieve their aims and virtually disappearing in the next election. Both Lapid and Bennett know that unless they can achieve their pre-election goals they will be kicked out. They have more of a chance of doing this inside the coalition than outside, and at least one of them will probably join the government. Bennett last week insisted that going into the opposi- tion "will not be the end of the world" at the same time calling on Netanyahu to reopen negotiations with his party. "This is like a game of chicken and the question is who is going to blink first?" Eytan asked. With both Lapid and Ben- nett, Netanyahu would have 69 seats, a comfortable ma- jority. But it is also possible that he will choose a different constellation of parties-- adding the ultra-Orthodox and the two-seat Kadima paity for a majority of 57. He can then either approach Bennett, who might agree to break off his alliance with La- pid, or the center-left Labor party, which has 13 seats. Most Israeli analysts say it is unlikely that Israel will go to new elections. "Every time we are sur- prised that it takes so long to form a coalition," Tamir Sheafer, a professor of po- litical science, told The Media Line. "But as far as I remember we have never gone to new elections and I can't see it happening now." As New York haredi population surges, battles over neighborhoods ensue By Gil Shefler NEW YORK (JTA)--eIf you're looking to move to an apartment on or near Park Avenue, be prepared to break open the piggy bank. Prices are higher than ever and developers ae squabbling over construction rights. That's Park Avenue, Brooklyn--not its swankier Manhattan namesake. For decades, this derelict Dedicated To Serving Our Jewish Community Call on Central Florida's Exclusively Jewish Funeral Home for Details Regarding: Traditional Jewish Funerals Non-Traditional Services Interstate Shipping Pre-Arranged Funerals (Shalom Assurance Plan) Headstone, Grave Markers (Cardinal Memorials) 407-599-1180 640 Lee Rd. Orlando, Florida W.E. "Manny" Adams, LFD Samuel P. (Sammy) Goldstein, Executive Director corner of New York's most populous borough was the domain of dangerous street gangs and dilapidated indus- trial buildings. The name of its neighborhood, Bedford- Stuyvesant, was synono- mous with urban decay ahd crime. But driven by the ex- plosive growth of the Jewish population in neighboring Williamsburg, a stronghold of the Satmar hasidic sect, untold numbers of haredi Orthodox Jews recently have moved into the area, and now many consider it part of Jewish Williamsburg. "Ten years ago there were no Jews living here," said Moishe, a construction site manager of a large residen- tial building who declined to give his last name. "Then they changed the zoning. Now it is going heavy." The changes in the neigh- borhood-are among the consequences Of the explo- sive growth of the Orthodox Jewish population in Amer- ica's most Jewish city. That growth is altering not just the composition of America's largest Jewish community, but city neighborhoods, too. A study released in Janu- ary by the UJA-Federa- tionof New York identified Williamsburg as home to the second-fastest Jewish population growth in New York City. About 74,500 Jews--mostly haredi Ortho- dox-lived there in 2011, up from 52,700 a decade earlier. The fastest-growing Jewish neighborhood of the city was Borough Park, another haredi Orthodox stronghold in Brooklyn. More than 130,000 Jews lived there in 2011, up from 76,000 in 2001. Together, these two ar- eas accounted for two-thirds of the 10 percent increase in the number of Jews living in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County between 2001 and 2011, ac- cording to the study. With these neighbor- hoods' rapid growth has come new challenges. Af- fordable hotising is increas- ingly scarce. The median real estate price in the Park Avenue area is just under $500,000, higher than nearly 80 percent of New York neighborhoods, according to Neighborhood Scout, a real estate data website. Meanwhile, average income in the area is lower than 90 percent of U.S. neighbor- hoods, according to the site. "The prices are going up and up, and it's becom- ing harder and harder for young families to buy in this neighborhood," said Gary Schlesinger, the executive director of United Jew- ish Community Advocacy, Relations and Enrichment (UJCare), a haredi organiza- tion based in Williamsburg. "I personally have two mar- ried children. They have no prospects of owning .land." As a result, the vast ma- jority of Jews in Williams- burg--77 percent, accord- ing to the UJA-Federation survey--are renters, the highest rate in the city. By contrast, only 51 percent of Jews living in the more af- fluent area known as Brown- stone Brooklyn--an area that encompasses downtown Brooklyn and the much sought-after Park Slope and Carroll Gardens neighbor- hoods--are tenants. The tough real estate mar- ket has enticed many haredim to quit the city for Jewish towns farther upstate, such as Kiryas Joel, community members say. Kiryas Joel now has more than 20,000 residents, according to the 2010 census, up from 13,000 in 2000. For those who stay, real estate developers have been busy building in areas sur- rounding established haredi cores, pushing into adjacent neighborhoods like Bedford- Stuyvesant and Clinton Hill. The haredi migration can be tracked by the new construction, which often has specifically Orthodox amenities, such as staggered balconies that allow residents to build sukkahs during the fall harvest holiday with un- obstructed views of the sky. "This whole road and fur- ther down in deep BeA-Stuy and Clinton Hill is becoming hasidish," said Isroel Kogen, a tour guide with Hasidic Wil- liamsburg Tour. "Look at the balconies and the bars on the windows. It's typical haredi." The rapid expansion of the community has not always gone smoothly. The Broadway Triangle, a large parcel of land in north Brooklyn recently vacated by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, has b}come a bone of contention between local haredim, blacks and Latinos. In 2006, the city granted the United Jewish Communities of Williams- burg (UJO), a haredi housing and social services group, the right to build on the formerly industrial tract. The UJO plans several eight-story buildings with mostly large units that critics say cater specifically to the needs ofreligiousfamilies. But the Broadway Triangle Coalition--a group that includes blacks, Latinos and UJCare--is suing to block the plan, claiming that large apartments deliberately favor Jews over other groups that have, on average, smaller families. They .also argue that haredi developers delib- erately limit construction to eight stories because some Chasidic Jews will not ride in an elevator on the Sabbath. "Our position is that there was a strategic political deci- sion made to help deliver this land and opportunity with- out regard to the needs of the overall community," said Romy Ganschow, a lawyer representing the Broadway Triangle Coalition. "By de- vising the plan the way that they did they did not have to give preference to residents in neighboring adjoining black community." Niederman said the apart- men[s would be offered to anyone, regardless of race or religion, based op an open lottery. "The African-Ameri- can but especially the Latino community "--because they have larger families--'have the same right to compete and will-compete for these apartments," he said. Whatever the courts de- cide on the Broadway Tri- angle development, it will not soh{e the haredi com- munity's housing problems. "Even if we build these houses," Niederman said, "it would be just a drop in the sea."