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   1999-07-30 - Zvika Ma Yafit of Oranit


'Quality of life' is theme for 
bedroom community of Oranit

San Diego Jewish Press-Heritage, July 30, 1999:


By Donald H. Harrison 

San Diego, CA (special) -- Zvika Ma-Yafit said that his community of Oranit, with approximately 5,000 residents, represents a relatively new phenomenon in Israel: the bedroom community.

Instead of the apartment buildings so characteristic of the big cities, cottages are the typical dwelling in Oranit, located about 12 miles from Tel Aviv. There are very few stores in Oranit; most residents go to Tel Aviv to do their shopping.
"People wanted to leave the city to have a better quality of life," Ma-Yafit said of Oranit's founding slightly more than 13 years ago. Now serving his second 5-year term as chairman of Oranit's Local Council, Ma-Yafit said "when my youngest child goes out to a party, I never have to ask her 'where are you going and when are you coming back?' I just have one question: 'Do you have a key to the house?'" 

 The feeling that his daughter and two older children live in a place of safety inside the gated community is "what I mean by 'quality of life,'" Ma-Yafit explained during a July 17-21 visit to San Diego that was sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development.

It may surprise outsiders to know that residents feel so secure, given the fact that the community straddles the "Green Line" 

    Zvika Ma-Yafit of Oranit
marking the boundary between Israel of 1967 and the territories it captured in the Six Day War.

Close to Oranit is Kfar Qasem, an Arab village of about 12,000 residents. "I have good relations with the mayor there," Ma-Yafit said. "We meet together and we have cooperated about the environment" such as in deciding to jointly develop a sewage system.

"We buy a lot of things from Kfar Qasem," the municipal executive added. "Many people from this Arab village work in our city as gardeners and handy persons, and we have good relations."

Nevertheless, he said, more trust needs to be developed. For example, he said, he once proposed to the mayor of a neighboring village that they apply together to the Ministry of Transportation for funds to light a short stretch of highway between them. "He was a little suspicious," telling Ma-Yafit that such a request would need to be approved first by the members of his council.

Ma-Yafit said he invited the transportation minister to Oranit, and received a grant to light a road within the Jewish community. "So, I said to the mayor, 'you see what happened because we didn't do it together? I got money for my place and you didn't get any money."

Now, the Israeli official said, he believes he and the Arab mayor will agree to issue a joint invitation to Israel's President Ezer Weizmann to visit both villages.

Ma-Yafit said assuring good quality of life means spending budgeted funds for "formal education, non-formal education, sport, culture and so forth." With an elementary school and a middle school located in Oranit, but with bus service required to take high school students to Tel Aviv, such "quality of life" expenditures account for approximately 55 percent of the community's budget, he said.