Friday, June 07, 2013

Should Private Beaches Be Allowed In Israel?

ערב שבת קודש פר' קרח תשע"ג
From a Life In Israel Quote Of The Day:
"It cannot be that the beaches will be only for the rich. The vacations are for everybody. We need to do everything possible so that in July and August people will be able to go to the sea without having to spend a lot of money. We need to give people options to tour and enjoy at reasonable prices."
 -- MK Miri Regev (Likud)
*at a discussion in the Knesset about the state of the beaches around Israel and the possibility of entrance fees

Esser Agaroth (2¢):
OK, so MK Miri Regev earns some points here. It is not the first time she has earned kudos from Esser Agaroth. That was when she showed public support for Jewish Prayer on the Temple Mount.

Her concern with fairness across the board, regardless of financial status is admirable. Quite frankly all government officials should operate this way. Everyone should be able to enjoy the beach. The beach belongs to everyone. 

The Snack Bar at the Religious Beach in Tel-Aviv
I, myself, have always wondered how some of these structures have been able to pop up suddenly on the beach, blocking off large sections of it, in order to charge for admission. I was unaware that anyone was actually allowed to own land in Israel, unless one was fortunate enough to have purchased it during Turkish (or British? rule. I always seemed a bit shady to me.

However, to my embarrassment, I must say that many beaches in Israel are filthy. It is not even because of irresponsible beach-goers per se. I usually go to some very isolated beaches, and they are filled will trash, coughed up by the Mediterranean. Whether from Israel's industry and residents, from other irresponsible countries, from cruise ships, or from all of the above, I cannot tell. But, whoever is responsible, beach-goers and volunteers alone do not seem to be able to keep up with it.

Clean up costs money. Cities provide some of that service. However, I have seen plenty of areas in Israel, incorporated and not, in total neglect. Someone has to clean it sometime, either the government, volunteers, or private companies.

As a Californian, liberals and conservatives alike are aware that taking care of our environment benefits everyone. Whether you believe it affects our health, whether you believe it is an investment returned several times over in tourist spending boosts to local economies, or whether you believe we need to take care of the environment, just because we need to, it benefits everyone.
And so, compliments to MK Regev, but I hope she does not just REACT, like so many MK's seem to do (on the so-called right and the left), putting band-aids on everything, avoiding the often necessary surgery.
So far in MK Regev's tenure in the K'nesseth, she seems to have been fairly thorough. (Did I miss anything?) So I expect that she will remember that uncovering the shadiness of "private" beaches.
But, someone is going to have to pay if we want our beaches to remain clean, both for us, and for the tourists with big wallets. And those someones are Israeli taxpayers.

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