United and open to all (ISRAEL HAYOM OP-ED) Nadav Shragai 05/20/12)
Israel Hayom Articles-Index-Top
Happy holiday to the Jews. Today is Jerusalem Day. Let´s face it,
this is not a holiday for the Arab residents of Jerusalem; there is
no reason for false pretenses. But the reunification of Jerusalem,
and the Jews´ return to the Temple Mount, to the Western Wall, to the
City of David, to the old Jewish Quarter, to Shimon Hatzaddik (Simeon
the Just) and to Mount Scopus was a life-altering event, no less than
another occasion that we celebrate every year: Independence Day.
Independence Day is also not an Arab-Israeli holiday — on the
contrary — but just as we would never dampen our joy or mourn
together with the defeated side, which tried to destroy us, so it is
on Jerusalem Day. We will not dampen our delight because of the grief
of those who hoped to wipe us off the map.
This grief, incidentally, has diminished over the years. The Arabs of
Jerusalem are rather terrified of the possibility that the
Palestinian Authority will assume guardianship over them. Despite
being subjected to discrimination in quite a few areas, as official
residents of Israel they enjoy a long list of important civil rights
and benefits, and most of them (as polls indicate) prefer to continue
living here with us, rather than re-dividing Jerusalem.
But it is not just Arabs who don´t celebrate Jerusalem Day. In recent
years, certain Jerusalem "lovers," Jews actually, have taken
advantage of Jerusalem Day to criticize the city and list its
shortcomings. We can assume they will also do so this year, and
therefore a more balanced overview is called for.
Forty-five years ago we returned to the Western Wall, but we forgot
the Temple Mount. We built an impressive chain of neighborhoods on
the outskirts of the Old City, where about 200,000 Jews live today,
which completed changed the demographics and geography of Jerusalem.
But we neglected the historical core of the city, the Old City, and
we didn´t make enough of an effort to settle Jews there as well.
Today, Jerusalem is undergoing a magnificent renaissance, in tourism
and in culture. Millions of people visit the city annually, but its
Jewish residents are leaving the city at a rate of about 18,000 per
year. People are fleeing Jerusalem because there are no jobs and no
available housing. U.S. pressure has brought to a halt in
construction in east Jerusalem and environmentalists have blocked
construction in the western part of the city. We need to be a little
less considerate of both, and begin building a little more, so that
more Jews will stay in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem has divided aspects and united aspects, but more than
anything else it has gained a type of normalization, which would be
brutally destroyed if the city were to be re-divided in accordance
with Bill Clinton´s parameters or in the spirit of the Oslo Accords.
The Jews and Arabs of Jerusalem alike rely on a plethora of joint
services such as health services, public transportation, roads,
electricity, sewerage, water, communications, commerce, hotels and
academia. And most importantly: The Jordanian Legion is no longer
shooting at us, the walls that once divided the city have fallen,
Jerusalem is open to all and members of all faiths enjoy the freedom
to worship as they see fit.
The poet Yitzhak Shalev wrote this just before 1967: "Woe to the city
that has no south and no north / the city with the lost eastern
edge / blocked horizons and bound distances / a screen obstructs the
beauty of its forums." This screen must not obstruct Jerusalem ever
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