Barely two weeks after advertisers were forced to cover up billboards along Tel Aviv’s Ayalon highway, as a prelude to taking them down altogether, the powers that be have decided to allow the billboards after all. After the signs were ruled illegal by no less than the High Court of Justice, Israel’s wise lawmakers, led by Labor MK Yoram Marciano, have formulated a bill to legalize advertising billboards along Tel Aviv’s major traffic artery.
Why the sudden alacrity of the part of the Knesset? After all, the Ayalon billboards are opposed by the Ministries of Justice, Interior and Environment and the Traffic Police, and have proven offensive to numerous segments of Israeli society, as well as distracting to already stressed-out drivers.
Strangely enough, the Ministry of Transportation, which one would expect to set the agenda on this issue more than any other government body, has no official stand on the issue. Perhaps Transportation Minister (and former army chief) Shaul Mofaz is too busy using the Ministry to inform on teenagers who evade army service (we’re not kidding, read about it in Hebrew here).
Ramat Gan mayor Zvi Bar also had his say on the issue during the discussion in the Knesset. Here is a quote (again, we are not making this up):”The Ayalon today looks blacker than black. When you drive from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris, everything is lit up, and there hasn’t been a single traffic accident there. The police’s claim that this causes accidents is unacceptable to me. They have no proof that this actually causes accidents. It can be proven that beautiful and aesthetic billboards prevent accidents. Bring the color back to our eyes, bring the splendor back to the Ayalon.”
Could it be that vested economic interests influenced the discussion in the Knesset, as traffic safety organization Or Yarok suggests? We will let the reader decide on his own.