City for All

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greenerisrael.wordpress.com: The endorsement is in: Dov Khenin and “City for All” for the Tel Aviv Municipal Elections

It should come as no surprise that the Green Israel Movement is endorsing Dov Khenin and his party, City for All for the Tel Aviv Municipal elections. Khenin’s social-environmental record - as a citizen and as a parliamentarian - is phenomenal. A lawyer by profession, Khenin served as director of “Life and Environment,” the umbrella organization representing all of Israel’s environmental groups. Soon after he was elected to Knesset with the Hadash party, he established a solid reputation as a successful legislator. Along with Rabbi Michael Melchior, he also turned the Knesset Social-Environmental Lobby into a prominent voice for social justice and the environment within the legislative body. City for All is committed to democratic representation in city council, and has detailed work plans for improving education, housing and transportation for all of Tel Aviv’s citizens.

In their endorsement of Dov Khenin and City for All, Green Movement leaders Alon Tal and Eran Ben-Yemini write, “There is nothing more natural and obvious for us than to join in support of City for All and Dov Khenin in their campaign for the municipality of Tel Aviv… City for All offers a concrete guarantee for a different kind of politics: democratic, transparent, equal and progressive. A party that will give real representation to diverse sectors and groups. A party that will advance the issues that are of central importance to the city’s residents.”

CITY FOR ALL -
PROFILE OF AN URBAN MOVEMENT

Tel Aviv – Jaffa has been in turmoil these past years, with little to celebrate. Rents have gone up constantly, air pollution is getting worse, longtime residents are evicted from their homes and skyscrapers reserved exclusively for millionaires are springing up in its neighborhoods. Many residents are made to feel that they are a burden upon the municipality, which has shunted off its responsibility towards them, principally serving the interests of building contractors and real estate speculators.

The fallout has widened these past two years, to embrace additional groups hitherto not affected. At different locations across the city, protest groups have sprung up, reaching a climax in June 2007 when hundreds attended a protest rally at the Cinematheque under the slogan: "Tel Avivians, wake up!" The months following that protest produced conditions for consolidation of all these campaigns into A "city for all of us" - a single unified urban movement representing the broad interest of a majority of the city’s residents – rather than those of the moneyed elite. The movement has grown into a network embracing hundreds of activists.

A "city for all" is not associated with any party active at the national or local level, as illustrated by its membership: the movement includes religious traditionalists and secular individuals, residents of the southern neighborhoods alongside those living north of the Yarkon; pensioners and high school pupils, professors and students, Jews and Arabs, men and women, longtime social activists alongside rookies, right and left, members of parties from all across the political spectrum.

A "city for all" is not a protest group: it is an urban political movement which does not rest content with marking out areas calling for reform, instead preferring to put forward detailed practical plans for every aspect of life in the city. These plans have been worked out by leading experts from among the movement’s members.

A "city for all" intends to restore the city to its residents. It is the people of this city – not the skyscrapers – that make it so enthralling. Together we will restore the city to its people. It depends on no one but us, the city’s residents. Join the thousands already taking part in the historic turnabout so vital for the city! Come along to our meetings. Talk with our activists. Talk with friends and neighbours. Together we shall restore the city to its residents and make it into a place that is good, healthy and fun to live. A city for us all.

To find out details of our vision and our practical plans, about our position on vital issues on the city’s agenda, and ways of getting involved in the election campaign – click on the buttons right and left.

AN APPEAL TO THE CITIZENS OF
TEL AVIV – JAFFA FROM DOV KHENIN

A "City for all of us" represents a different kind of politics. It offers immediate urban solutions, it possesses the genuine ability and willingness to tackle problems of traffic, housing and education, ecological and social issues. A "city for us all" is a local, non-partisan grouping, unlike any other movement I have ever known.

I love this unique city. True, it’s not the first time we’ve faced galling differences between the south of the city and its northern sections. It’s not the first time we have had to campaign for open spaces and citizens’ rights. All the same, over the years the city has become home to all kinds of people, becoming a symbol of sane and dynamic living, bubbling with freedom and creativity. Sadly, this unique human and cultural fabric is under real threat. In recent years, troubling developments have affected the city. In many ways, it is becoming a city for the rich alone. Growing numbers of its citizens sense they no longer have any place here.
The municipality plays a pivotal role in these developments: residential towers – exclusively for the rich – are springing up in the heart of more humble neighborhoods, driving longtime residents from their homes; public transport suffers from neglect, making the city utterly dependent upon private cars – with the attendant traffic jams, parking problems and air pollution; turning its back on students, young couples and pensioners, the municipality does nothing to rein in rising rents; it goes along with eviction and demolition orders against residents of Kfar-Shalem and Jaffa, instead of engaging them in fair and equitable dialogue; the municipality elects to construct parking garages in place of public gardens; the municipality conducts its affairs in a painfully brutal manner, without allowing us to share in shaping a future for ourselves and our city.

Over the years, I have been involved in numerous civic campaigns across the city – formerly as an ordinary citizen and now as a member of the Knesset. However, in view of the increasingly harmful developments sweeping the city, I realized that this was no longer adequate. Accordingly, I took part in founding A "city for all of us"; following on from that, I have submitted my candidacy, on its behalf, for mayor of Tel Aviv – Jaffa. Over the past year, A "city for us all" has exceeded all my expectations: I have come to know its many energetic activists, who are determined - in spite of our differences, maybe precisely because of those differences - to create a better shared future. A "city for all of us" is an urban, non-party group, nothing like any movement I have ever known in the past. I am aware that we face a difficult task, but I also know we have the fortitude, the ideas and the ability to launch a real change in this city.

About my public activity hitherto: I have worked for many years as a lawyer specializing in constitutional and public law, such as in the field of human rights. I completed a Ph. D. in political science at Tel Aviv University, and a post-doctorate in environmental politics as a research fellow at Oxford University. I now head the environmental justice programme at the TA University law faculty. For three years I served as chair of the umbrella organization of Israeli environmental groups. Over the years I have been active in social groups, the peace movement, the Israel Communist party and Hadash. In 2006 I was elected to the Knesset, where I serve on the committee for domestic affairs and environmental protection, and the committee on children’s rights. Along with that, I head the Knesset social and environmental lobby. In the course of my parliamentary duties, I have promoted legislation on a variety of issues, including: protection of the public domain and environment, the right to housing, rights of workers, women, children and persons with disabilities, human rights and equality.

Contrary to what is often claimed, Tel Aviv – Jaffa is not a "bubble". Within our city you can find all the developments – for better or worse – affecting Israeli society overall. All the same, it is an exceptional city. By virtue of its resources – material and human – it has the capacity to lead profound changes that could carry an impact at a national level. The different politics represented by A "city for all", the up-to-date urban solutions it puts forward, its willingness to tackle problems of traffic, housing and education, ecological and social issues, discrimination and inequality – all these could also have a profound influence in the national arena, and contribute towards making the country as a whole a better place to live. I shall be grateful for your help in the elections, and I will be pleased with any help you can extend in the weeks to come.