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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
IV 1980 - 1990
 The prevailing theory was that market forces would improve and increase the variety of housing and lower their cost to the consumer.  The opposite was true for the lower income groups of potential first- homebuyers.  A sudden increase in the production of luxury housing began to express the widening socio-economical gap within Israeli society. It was a process that was diametrically opposed to the initial egalitarian ideology of Zionism, or any other socially oriented political agenda. As in many other parts of the world, the rich were getting richer and the poor poorer. Sooner or later this would produce a violent reaction.  Orwell's epigram was again becoming appropriate to the times. “All Israelis are equal, but some were becoming more equal than others”.  Newly affluent Israelis used their newly acquired purchasing power to influence the previously sound urban development of the country, sometimes in an entirely detrimental way.both economically and environmentally The predilection for single family housing on small plots of land would result in undesirable low residential densities.  In a small country with an acute shortage of land suitable for building, this would produce a serious urban problem in the near future and have an appalling effect on the natural environment.  On the other hand some developers and building contractors would soon acquire the power to increase residential densities on their expensive land in the central areas of the large towns, and build excessively "high rise housing", or denude central residential areas, replacing them with office towers. The effects of the prohibiting cost of housing for working class families who wanted to remain in central city locations in proximity to their places of work, would be reminiscent of the infamous ‘Urban Renewal’ of American cities during the nineteen sixties. But this time it would have a different  ‘newspeak’ name, .it would be called: ‘Pinui ve Binui’;- in English: ‘Clear away and Rebuild’ It was clear however who was going to be cleared away, and it was no less obvious who was going to make a packet out of the rebuilding. What was really required in Israel, was a carefully balanced National Housing Policy, but there was no longer a public institution available to propose it and carry it out. It was all a very sad picture of a lost opertunity to crate a new society based on humanistic values which was the one I migrated to in 1950. 

    Once Israel was internationally known for its sound, dynamic and socially orientated housing policy and its achievements were Internationly applauded; this was no longer the case.  The newly rich Israelis who were demanding plots of land to build their [very often] vulgar little villas, were even considered as a desirably “strong” population, and courted by local town mayors, and what was most shocking, by the Ministry of Housing itself. Instead of fundamentally assisting the disadvantaged section of local residents, some authorities chose to simply replace them.  George Orwell could have added a new chapter to his “Animal Farm”!  

    Israel was falling into ‘the abyss of real estate’, which Joseph Slyper had once told me about in a chilling parable.  This was while I was working in the Housing Department as a young architect in the early fifties. Joseph Slyper, who originally came to Israel from Holland, was a sociologist by profession and at that time was the Director of the Programming Section of the Israeli Housing Department.  He was a man of rare wisdom and grace.



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