In Ramat Shlomo, they wonder what the fuss is aboutIn Ramat Shlomo (bottom left) this week, most people are wondering what the fuss is about.
Eli Diskin, a Ramat Shlomo resident and real estate developer who was involved with the first wave of building that swept the neighborhood in the early 1990s, told The Jerusalem Post that 1,600 new housing units “wouldn’t even be enough” to deal with the overflowing population of the neighborhood.The numbers I have heard - for the record - are 22,000-23,000 people with an average of eight children per family. And then there are all the people renting storage rooms made over into small apartments.
“I don’t think it even needs to be explained,” Diskin said.
“Construction in Ramat Shlomo began in 1993, and now there are 2,200 families or roughly 16,000 people living here,” he continued.
“Each family averages between seven and eight members, and frankly, there is nowhere left for people to live. If someone gets married, if they have more kids, where are they supposed to go? They have to leave the neighborhood,” he said, adding, “And if we can’t build here, where are we supposed to build?”
Diskin’s sentiments were echoed by every other Ramat Shlomo resident who spoke to the Post on Wednesday.
“If this is not an inseparable part of Jerusalem, than what is?” asked Pini Gamliel, a shopkeeper on the neighborhood’s HaAdmor M’Lubavitch Street. “Where do they want us to put our houses?”
Nearby, at a Chabad synagogue constructed as an exact duplicate of the entrance to the hassidic movement’s famous yeshiva at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn [the red brick building that is prominent in the picture. CiJ], Mendy Hechtman told the Post that he felt American diplomats and others critical of the decision to continue building in Ramat Shlomo should come and see the neighborhood for themselves.Yes, Ramot, which is several times its size, is further out than Ramat Shlomo.
“Once you get here, you can easily see that this is simply another neighborhood in Jerusalem,” Hechtman said. “But the media makes it seem like this is some kind of far-removed settlement, when in reality it’s right next to Ramot.”
What you can't see here, but which is obvious even to amateurs like me, is how important the ridge on which Ramat Shlomo sits would be in the case of any military conflict. That's because it overlooks - and has a clean shot - at every major highway in the city. To give one example, there's a road going across the bottom of that second picture which is known as "Road 9." Road 9 runs (look at this on the top map) from French Hill to the entrance to Ramot. It has three exits: Ramat Shlomo, the 'Cedar Tunnel' road that connects with the Jerusalem - Tel Aviv highway, and the road that is Menachem Begin Boulevard criss-crossing the city to the south and Route 443 to the north. Those roads are critical for city traffic.
What I will try to get pictures to show you on Sunday is how an army unit stationed atop Ramat Shlomo would have a clear shot at every one of those roads (and more).