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Also an eye-opener was our stop at a restricted area, directly in front of the fence (it is really a wall with barbed wire) that towers over the Abu Dis area, which has been suggested as the capital of a Palestinian state. My guide stresses that while the wall has been an effective deterrent against terrorism, it is not a wall that divides Jews and Arabs since so many Arabs live on the Israeli side of the wall. “What it did was to cut the size of the problem,” he adds, “making it harder for them to organize terrorist activity.”

After my visit, I felt a new sense of optimism that we have perhaps turned the corner on the Mount of Olives. The vision that the Mount of Olives would one day be a center of Jewish tourism may not be far away. Perhaps there will be new paths, new fences, tens of cameras, a strong police presence, signage everywhere, regular Egged bus service, and a reconnect to its holy past. Perhaps school children will stand on the mountain and learn about the ashes of the poroh adumah that were prepared here, where the Kohanim (priests) readied for their tasks on the Har Habayit (Temple Mount) just across the mountain, where the new chodesh (month) was proclaimed, where David Hamelech (King David) fled from his son Avsholom, and where so many of our luminaries rest. Let us hope and be mispallel that he is right!

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