For Whom is the Shaft?


New Jerusalem Harp Bridge
The Harp - A Shaft Holding up the Bridge


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Opinion & Society

The Harp or the Finger?

By Jmag Staff

Jerusalem has done it again. It has built a gigantic something or other to impress, I suppose some one. The Jmag Staff was on the scene with a personal interview with the less than throngs of people passing by. We asked them what they thought of it.

Indeed we were surprised at their answers.

An elderly S'fardic man that we approached and asked for his opinion kept asking us "What is it?" Even though we tried to explain that it was a bridge for a new urban railroad (that is far from being completed) with a large leaning thingamabob (you readers will just have to bear with these highly technical terminology here), he could not seem to understand what it was about. He kept asking us simply "What is it?"

Rena, an Israeli lady told us that is was nice. She confessed that she did not see the purpose in the construction, a simple bridge would be much cheaper, but it must be nice she stated since the city spent plenty of money on it.

A young man with a pony tail would simple comment: "interesting". Does that mean good or bad? "Interesting" was the non-committal reply.

Howard, an engineer from California was impressed with the engineering aspect of it. "It is a clever idea – a leaning tower that supports the bridge from falling down." He later expressed doubt that the tower really did such a feat. "It could be that the bridge would be self-supporting without the dork," he said. But he liked the idea.

His companion, Larry, said that it may be engineeringly clever, but atheistically it was ugly. "Why make a simple tower that has really no shape? They could have made it in the shape of a fist, like Kahane's Jewish Defense League's symbol, or maybe a hand holding a torch. Why a simple shaft that is bent in the middle?"

Other people expressed their dismay claiming that the money could better be spent on feeding and housing the poor of Jerusalem. A cab driver told us that it is stupidity, but then he continued, the whole government is stupid. What is to be expected?

New Jerusalem Harp Bridge
A Closer Look at the Shaft

The most interesting comment was from Tom, a carpenter. "It's the finger! (Meaning the obscene gesture given to another to infuriate him) That is for certain! The real question," he continued excitedly, "is to whom are they giving the finger? To the visitors who come to see this monstrosity or to the residents of this fair city who have suffered for years having their streets dug up and then re-dug up and then again and again."

New Jerusalem Harp Bridge
The Finger - Possible Prototype for the Shaft

No one was really to please with it, not surprisingly since it has yet to prove a time saving structure. Just the opposite: rail track that have been laid on Herzl Street had to be removed and re-laid. All of this time disrupting traffic and inconveniencing residents. The Harp or Chord's Bridge, as it is refered to in English, was designed by a Spanish architect and engineer, Santiago Calatrav, and cost 73 million dollars. The peak is 118 meters high and can be seen from far.

Originally planned as a simple bridge for $30 million, it was developed into a truly dispicable tower that leaves most cold. The Israeli Architectual organization criticized it as a "monster." which "expresses the ego of the architect and not city of Jerusalem itself."

On the good side when (and if) the rail service begins it will go from Mount Herzl to the Central Bus Station then down Yaffa Road to the City (Iriya) Building and then far out to Neve Yaakov. So far little track has been laid.

"Train?" commented one passerby, "In a city of buses, what do they need a train taking up room on the road? A bus can turn around; it can be re-routed if there is an accident. A train can't be changed!"

Never the less, it seems that the Harp has not draw much enthusiasm from the residents, as one summed it up: "Jerusalem is famous for the Old City and the Kotel. France has little so they have the Eiffel Tower; New York has the Statue of Liberty. We have the Kotel, It is our special attraction. What the hell do we need this as a tourist attraction for? I believe it is the bankrupt politicians who want Jerusalem and Israel to be like all the other nations. They have their architectural feats; they feel we also need one. Bah! Let them go there to live. We have the Kotel!"

In summary, there are those who see it as a good thing, making transportation quicker while providing an interesting greeting to the numerous tourists who come to Israel. It is supposed to be a harp with large cables supporting the bridge. But still why make the shaft in the shape of the finger?

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For more on Israel, see our Israel Archives


from the July 2008 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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