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The cliffs of Netanya
Rhonda Spivak

Editor's Report from Israel: Donald Trump and Netanya , and July's Stabbing Attack

by Rhonda Spivak, reporting from Netanya, Israel, July 7, 2016

I  arrived in Netanya last week and droven by the sprawling sandy beach of   Ramat Poleg beach where Donald trump was supposed to build a  gigantic hotel complex.   I learned about this ten years ago,  when a real estate agent was  trying to sell me some property in the Ramat Poleg neighborhood where  they said " there would be a wide open view directly to the sea. "
In fact at the time, there was lots of  talk amongst the locals that on Poleg beach Donald Trump was going to build 8 large  hotels ( three, four and five star) on 38 acres of  the beach, which would have added  2,500 hotel rooms to the area. Sly Israeli real estate agents, like the one I had ecountered,  were busy trying to sell condos to  foreigners like myself in high rises  looking out to the sea right behind the line of planned hotels. The agents, of course, weren't telling the foreigners that the Trump planned  hotels would  sit right in front of them and obstruct the sea views of these condos.  In 2005 there was a headline in the Hebrew daily newspaper Maàriv that announced : Coming Soon-Trump Hotels in Netanya.

According to an article in US Today in 2005,  Michael Dezer, a Trump associate said plans for the $500 million hotel complex were still going ahead even after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed himself and five others at the Netanya's shoppping mall near the entrance to the city. Dezer, an Israeli-born real estate tycoon in the U.S.,  who had arrived three times on a private jet said that the bombings hadn't changed a thing. It was clear that the city of Netanya had attempted  to reponded to  a spate of terror attacks by trying to entice  real estate magnates , such as Trump, to  build hotels, following the attacks,  to prove that Netanya was not caving in to terror and would remain a robust tourist city.  

I have frequented Poleg beach in Netanaya many many times since 2005 but never saw any evidence of  Trump hotels, and was always glad about it, since it would have over-developed the beach, which is in my view better left unspoiled. Nonetheless, I always wondered what had happened to the planned Trump hotel complex. It's only now on reading an article in Ha'aretz that I have learned that in  2008, when the State of Israel's land authorities finally issued a tender to build new hotel on Poleg beach, Trump never issued a bid. He never  followed through on the project


That doesn't mean that the building on Poleg beach has stopped. There are now two condo developments going up on the land that I think was where Trump was going to build. (Maybe Hillary Clinton is building them !).
But there was bad news for Trump here in Israel last week, since the head of the Republican Party in Israel said that Trump should not not be the president of the United States.  Marc Zell , who spoke on Israeli Army radio said that American voters would be sure to recognize that the candidate did not possess the necessary qualities to lead his country.

“The voters understand that to lead the United States, you need a person who knows more than how to sell products, with all due respect to Donald Trump, and everything he has achieved in his career,” Zell said. “In my opinion, he cannot be president of the United States.”


Last week, a 17 year old Palestinians from the nearby town of Tulkarem  in the West Bank ( which is now under the control of the Palestinain Authority) in the West Bank stabbed two Jews in the Netanya outdoor market. The distance from Netanya to Tulkarem is only nine miles, and the Netanya market is about  a 25 minute walk from where I was, although it is a place I never go to.(Note:  Netanya lies on the narrowest part of Israel's coast , and it is not therefore surprising that it has been the subject of terror attacks, alhtough ever since the security fence was put up  under then Prime Minsiter Ariel Sharon, the city has seen relatively few terror  attacks.)
Everything in the city was normal after the attack, with Israelis flocking to Netanya's beach. The only thing I noticed that was different was that their was a police car (that said "pikuach Ironie" -"supervision from  Netanya Municipality )that was sitting smack in the middle of Netanya's pedestrian square. I rather suspect that the teenage Palestinian stabber believes that Netanya ought to become part of Palestine, not Israel.

When I learned fo the attack, I thought of a collectors item photo I have of Moshe Dayan greeting Palestinian Arabs from Tulkarem right after the 1967 war , when Tulkarem came under Israeli military control and he allowed West Bank Palestinains to  come to the beach in Netanya for the first time.  I have memories of the beach in the 1980's when I saw large groups of  Tulkarem Arab residents  coming to picnic at the Netanaya beach, and seeing Arab women completely covered from head to toe wading in the beach.  Those days are long gone, since Tulkarem is now under the authority of the PA and West Bank palestinians are not allowed into Israel


 Netanya has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, and one of the reasons that Israeli Arabs would prefer to remain in Israel over a potential Palestinain State int he West Bank is becasue of access to the beach. (West Bankers would need to go to Gaza to access the beach, and they can't do that today without a permit from the Hamas government which doesn't happen). The  terror attack last week hasn't changed anthing here. The beach will be full today and Netanya continues to build more high rise condos and more resort hotels as it welcomes greater numbers of tourists.




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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.