Sunday, October 14, 2007

Through the Roof

I read an article today in the Jerusalem Post entitled, "Through the Roof," which covers the rising cost and statistical impossibility of securing a lease in Jerusalem. The central reason given is the tendency for Jews from overseas with large bank accounts to buy apartments at overseas prices. Israelis, making lower salaries, can't afford the rents the landlords want to charge, so the owners prefer to allow the apartments to sit empty, visiting from time to time during the holidays. Ironically, the article finds that most people are moving all the way out to... my very own Pisgat Ze'ev. Meanwhile, I'm continuing to try to move out of Pisgat Ze'ev, and may have a development on that front. More on that one later.

Two factors were not covered by the article, probably because of their political implications:
1. The increasing population.
2. The halt in construction.

Jerusalem becomes more religious, less secular, every day. With the increase in religious population comes an increasing birth rate. Meanwhile, Jerusalem, which was once a small town surrounded by a collection of villages, has now been built out, well beyond the pre-1967 armistice lines, expanding into Judea and Samaria, a.k.a. the "West Bank." Today, with Zionist ideology more of a pleasant memory than a guide for policy, the government's overall goal is to keep Israel's American allies appeased and it's Arab adversaries quiet. To this end, construction of new neighborhoods in the vast, open desert to the East of Jerusalem has been put on hold. No supply plus high demand equals high prices.

Most young Jewish families choose to leave the holy city for something more affordable, while the Arabs continue to build and build without bothering to purchase the land or attain permits, and so the demography of Jerusalem shifts ever closer to an Islamic majority. There is talk of re-drawing the city lines to exclude the hostile Arab villages and include the suburbs and exurbs which have sprung up further outside of the city, but so far, no action. The fact is, I might end up leaving Jerusalem too some day if I ever want to live a reasonably comfortable life.

On the brighter side of the news, "Report Ranks Jobs by Rates of Depression," a recent survey indicates that one of my first jobs, serving food and beverages to people (I worked at the concession stand in a movie theater) is among the most depressing, with a 10.4% depression rate, while engineering, which I do now, has the lowest depression rate of 4.3%. Building things is just too much fun.

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