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Unspoiled Sandcliffs and sea view in northern Netanya
photo by Rhonda Spivak

Editor`s Report from Israel: Living in a Construction Site- And After The Terror Attack in Nice it will only continue

July 24, 2016

Editor`s Report form Israel: Living in a Construction Site- And After Nice it will only continue
For the last three and a half weeks while I was in the coastal city of  Netanya Israel, I learned what it was like to live in a big construction site. I was awoken most days to the sounds of construction (banging and drill like noises) at about 7 a.m., which was a tad too early but evidently construction can begin in Israel this early in the morning.
There used to be what must have been a once magnificent house next to my apartment that faced the sea , but the house was was  derelict, and not in use-and I presumed its owner was far away and  I always  suspected that one day this prime real estate may be have been gobbled up for a condo development. That day has come and the construction noise is fast and furious. Beside this new condo development, another large condo, two buildings over from me, was built last year.  Many of the new condo owners will be French Jews who no longer see France as a secure place to live and do not believe that the French government can quell the growing flames of antisemitism, or beat ISIS terror. And that was before the most recent terror attack in Nice, where a truck smashed into revelers celebrating France`s bastille day. In short,  I might as well get used to living in a construction site. (Note that the Times of Israel reported that days after the  Nice attack some  200 French Jews moved to Israel.
All things considered the construction noise is a lot more tolerable than the noise I experienced two summers ago, which was `booms`` in the  night from missiles Hamas was launching  into Israel during its 2014 summer war with Israel. And since being back in Winnipeg, I miss hearing the soothing sound of the waves of the Mediterranean out of my living room, and the snapshots of sailboats gliding by .  
After  the Nice attack, the Times of Israel was quick to  note that Palestinian terrorist have previously used cars as ``deadly weapons of terror``, noting that in Israel car -ramming attacks have been prominent in the terror wave that has killed 34 Israelis in 2015. Some deadly car ramming attacks were carried out by Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West bank in 2014,  and it  stands to reason that the Nice terrorist improved upon the car ramming model of terror that Palestinian terrorist have shown to be reliable.
Given that the construction noise on my street begins at about 7 a.m., I would have figured that by 5 p.m. it should be over at the end of the business day. Not so fast. Around 7 p.m. in the evening, loud cement trucks pulled up in front of my apartment window, as the municipality paved the sidewalk adjacent to the new condo development. The cement truck would leave shortly after 8 p.m., meaning that I could watch the gorgeous sunsets over the Mediterranean with the atmospheric hum of churning cement. Romantic indeed !
When we arrived at one of our favourite restaurants, Tammuz, on Argamman Beach, we noticed that the roof  to the restaurant is missing ! The location of the restaurant nestled in a cove along the sand cliffs right on the sea is stunning.  When  I asked the owner they complained that after 30 years of being in the same location, the municipality has said that their roof wasn't built properly-(jutting out to far ), and had to be removed. It has killed their business-without a roof, it is too hot in the summer, and in the winter there's no shelter form the rain and the winds. We are asked, "Do you want to sit inside or outside ("Bifnim or Bachutz") and I burst out laughing-"without your roof , it's all outside." The owner explains what is really going on is that the municipality  is trying to clear them out of this gorgeous location, so that they can redevelop this cove and make room for several potentially more upscale restaurants and a wider beachfront. The restauranteurs have engaged a lawyer, probably so they can negotiate how much compensation they receive to vacate this quiet location.

The municipality has renamed the beach Lagoon to fit with the Lagoon condo development that is being built across the street, which will being even more tourists to this spot. We returned to the restaurant several times, since I expect by the next time  I am back, this quiet, serene location will be gone. It is a symbol of the "old Israel" which is gradually giving way to non-stop development(Quiet, by the way, is relative, since for some reason  this summer there were low flying small planes whizzing by over the sea, in addition to the usual military helicopters). Elsewhere in northern  Netanya, the older Blue Bay hotel has been completerly gutted and is being rebuilt from scratch, and the formerly tired looking Four Seasons hotel has been renovated into an upscale Boutique hotel.
Just down the street from my apartment, a 48 story monstrosity condo development, hotel and parkade will be built right onto the main beach in Netanya, Sironit beach. This project was tied up in the court system for close to a decade, and I must admit I naievly believed it wouldn`t be built as it actually involved removing a sand cliff and  environmental organizations were  strongly opposed to it. (I have wondered if somehow it it could potentially destabilize other cliffs). But environmental organizations are relatively weak in Israel and the Netanya municipality has shown it would rather have the tax dollars from these real estate developments than preserve the tranquility of its beaches.  French Jews must be heavily investing in this project, which is scheduled to take several years to build, and which will snarl up traffic in the area. There will likely be a new shopping area adjacent to the monstrosity 48 story building and other related services so that there will be continous construction noise for decades to come ! And I imagine that once the monstrosity condo development  is built,  the municipality will want to tear down all the existing structures on the beach and start afresh. I really hope that  in the future the one way street  my apartment is on, is not rezoned such that it can become two way. We were told 10 years ago that this could never happen.There apparently is a `historic house`at the end of the street which would make this impossible- unless of course the house can be expropriated !
Yes-Netanya is becoming one big construction site. And yet, despite all the tumult of the ongoing construction, I miss being there already. 
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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.