Editorial- Authority and Domination
Just before the Sabbath, I went to take a look at a new building in the Tel Aviv neighborhood of Afeka. From there I decided to continue on home via Ramat Aviv Gimmel, a north Tel Aviv neighborhood also famous for the TV soap opera of the same name. Perhaps I would be lucky enough to spot one of its glittering stars. But just as I reached the home of a former important figure in the municipality, I found the access road had been blocked off. Back in the old days, when Ramat Aviv Gimmel was just a young couples’ housing project, a safety barrier might have been justified by the need to halt runaway baby strollers. But in the nouveaux riche suburb Ramat Aviv Gimmel is today, its residents have gotten older, smarter and very much richer, and a road block is no longer relevant. I wondered what planning committee had authorized this snobbish separation between neighborhoods. The truth is, authority grants domination and there’s nothing we can do about it.
While searching for a dignified way out of the unexpected dead end, I was reminded of another thorn in my side: the annoying basketball court built directly in front of my own home. Plunked down suddenly, slap-bang in the middle of a public open space. The basketball court appeared overnight in the middle of a public street in - I will not mention the town, but only hint that it includes the Herzliya Marina. Built without any legal permit and without asking me or my neighbors if we’d like to trade the road in front of our homes for a noisy sports court. Friends to whom I complain about the domination of those in authority and vice versa comfort me with the notion that, maybe, the next mayor won’t be friends with the basketball lover who plays at siesta times, at 1 a.m., or whenever he has the urge.
I dare to complain about happenings in my own bailiwick only because it is typical of the frustrations we all feel from the pervasive presence of authority and domination in all aspects of our lives. How many hours in office passed before our new Lady Minister of Education decided to axe a history book from the curriculum, or to dispose of the services of the Ministry’s long-term (and successful) director-general? How many days was the Minister for National Infrastructure tortured with the Israeli open space dilemma before he approved construction of sixteen new Jewish settlements and one Arab town? How much thought did the Water Commissioner invest in utilizing the huge quantities of gray water poured daily into the sea, before he authorized the drying up of what little green we have in our lives? And a little lower down the ladder - how much thought did the new City Engineer of Jerusalem invest in considering the question, Was he concerned that high-rise building in Jerusalem will make it another Manhattan? Judge by his answer: “If only...”.
This naive citizen knows that those who sit above the people create policy through authority and domination. But who handed them the State on a platter?
P.S. Written on a weekday, just in case.
Architect Ami Ran