There are currently an estimated 9,000 ghost dwellings in Jerusalem that are owned by foreigners (“Jerusalem Is Becoming A Ghost Town,” Jan. 6). The average vacant, shuttered home is twice the size of the average apartment occupied by Israeli families. Hence, in effect, there are 18,00 units that are unavailable and unaffordable to real Israelis.
Doubling the real estate tax is a joke, as that tax, even doubled, is extremely low compared to real estate taxes in America.
The owners of these homes may think they are doing Israel a favor. They aren’t. They harm the tourism/hotel industry, hurt local shopkeepers and create ghost neighborhoods like Yemin Moshe, which has become a magnet for dangerous elements that make it exceedingly unsafe day or night. Above all, they hurt young families that need to live in this city but cannot — academics, teachers, doctors, artists, musicians, small business owners, etc.
It is high time these absentee owners liquidated the properties so that Jerusalem can once again become a city for those who live here. We will always welcome these people as tourists with open arms. And for those who are deliberating whether to buy second homes in Miami or Jerusalem, please choose Miami. Your good intentions are paving the way to our hell.