Monday, July 14, 2014

Light Rail in Jerusalem returning to full service

Good New York Times article, by Jodi Rudoren, on the light rail in Jerusalem. Two stations in Shuafat were destroyed by the rioting after the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, and City Pass, the company that manages the train service, has cleaned up the tracks (which were littered with rocks and destroyed parts of the stations) to make it possible for the trains to run again. There's a good short video on the Times site, but I can't manage to embed it here.
But symbols are also important. In a city of 500,000 Jewish residents and 300,000 Arab residents — one often called “mixed” though “divided” is a more apt description — the light rail was, for some, a sign of progress: A rare sliver where devout and hedonistic, new arrivals and ancestral natives, soldiers and tourists and, yes, Palestinians and Jews paid the same $2 fare and watched out the same windows as they passed the ancient stones of Jerusalem’s Old City and the modern marvel of Santiago Calatrava’s “Bridge of Strings.”....
Opened in 2011 after the usual development delays plus problems particular to the region — like a squabble over whether the East Jerusalem station names should be Hebrew or Arabic — the light rail cost an estimated $1 billion to build. Before the recent crisis, it had 140,000 riders daily. 
They did not hold hands and sing “Kumbaya.” Last year, Yossi Klein Halevi, a respected American-Israeli author, wrote about barely managing to stop a religious Jew from assaulting a young Arab man who was riding the rail with a young Jewish woman. Mr. Halevi, who himself is religious, was hit with pepper spray by a gathering mob, and, after identifying the culprit to the police, was told, “You’ve lost the world to come, and also this world.” 
Nearly a year before the Shuafat riots that shattered the city’s light-rail spine, Mr. Halevi wrote, “the streets of Jerusalem seem increasingly threatened with anarchy.”
An article in Haaretz says that full service has resumed.

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