Latest update: May 24th, 2013
The Municipality of Jerusalem and Mayor Nir Barkat are trying to stay on everyone’s good side. On the one hand, the city is working together with the Ir Amim organization – a group that promotes dividing Yerushalayim along Arab-Jewish lines – jointly sponsoring a seminar on the controversial topic of urban planning for eastern Jerusalem.
This collusion has so enraged some supporters of a united Jerusalem that they have called on those who love Jerusalem to try to unseat Mayor Barkat in the next municipal election.
Still, his “infraction” is only verbal; as Meretz party candidate Attorney Talia Sasson recently told her co-believers, “We on the [anti-nationalist] left like to talk nicely, but it’s time to take ourselves in hand and actually do something!”
In contrast to how he angered the nationalist camp by colluding with Ir Amim, what Barkat has done to gladden the pro-Yerushalayim camp is actually in deed, not just in words. The Jerusalem Municipality will be allocating NIS 2 million (over half a million dollars) for a sound-and-light show project in the City of David National Park, just below the Old City. The Ministry of Tourism will chip in the same amount.
The project will focus on the ancient cistern into which the Prophet Jeremiah was thrown by those who objected to his prophecies, as recounted in Jeremiah 38. The pit is described there as belonging to “Malchiah son of the king, in the prison courtyard” – and today is an underground cavern located at the entrance of the national park. The cavern was recently excavated and opened to the public.
The project is run by the Elad Association, whose name stands for “To the City of David.” Elad has been responsible for uncovering the archaeological treasures of King David’s Jerusalem and publicizing them in a most appealing and state-of-the-art manner.
Haaretz reported that a Meretz party official denounced the project as “a gimmick to benefit the Elad foundation, which seeks to prevent coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem.”
In response to the “gimmick” claim, one observer wryly noted, “Certainly it’s a gimmick – just as the Old City, and the Tower of David, and the entire Bible are gimmicks!”
How symbolic it is that the present-day enemies-from-within of the national Jewish return to the entire Land of Israel make their case by focusing on Jeremiah’s Cistern – where the enemies of God’s word cast God’s emissary to die, rather than face the truth. Just as King Tzedekiah ordered Jeremiah’s rescue, so too we are confident that those who seek to perpetrate the prophet’s legacy will be totally vindicated before the Jewish people and the world.
Initial signs of such are evident in the fact that hundreds of thousands of tourists visit and enjoy the archaeological sites in and around the Old City, according to a Jerusalem Municipality statement. The city also said that it “accords great importance to [these] sites… The City of David is a leading tourist site and is considered extremely popular.”
Nadav Shragai’s New Book Jerusalem scholar and expert Nadav Shragai has written a new book titled ‘Al Aqsa is in Danger’: Portrait of a Lie. Shragai, a member of the International Council of Keep Jerusalem, explains that the Arab world has been perpetuating, for nearly a full century, the lie that Israel and the Jewish people are trying to destroy the Dome of the Rock – the gold-capped mosque that dominates the Jews’ most holy spot, the Temple Mount.
Shragai explains how the dissemination of the myth serves several purposes:
● it helps charismatic Arab leaders such as Islamic Movement chieftain Sheikh Raad Salah remain popular and receive hefty donations for their “work”;
● it maintains pan-Arab fear and hostility towards the Jews;
● it stimulates religious Islamic fervor;
● and possibly worst of all, it has led much of Israel’s population and most of its political leaders to view any pro-active Jewish steps to actualize their religious/national bonds to the Temple Mount, to the so-called Muslim Quarter of the Old City, and even to the Western Wall itself, as likely to trigger World War III.
The Arabs behind this campaign make sure not to bring up the fact that after Israel liberated the Old City in the 1967 Six-Day War, the late and legendary defense minister Moshe Dayan promptly restored control of the Temple Mount to the Muslims.
In keeping with Dayan’s approach, Israel continues to act as if any link between it and the site of the Beit HaMikdash is purely coincidental. Nearly all Jewish prayer is forbidden there, and Israel refrains from carrying out archaeological excavations there (and turns a blind eye when Muslims do so). This fearful approach is evident even at the Western Wall: A dangerous and ugly bridge continues to carry visitors to the Mount from the Western Wall plaza – while a new one has been put on hold simply to preclude international Arab protests that it signifies the imminent construction of the Third Beit HaMikdash on the ruins of the Dome of the Rock.
Totally overlooked, in addition to occasional throwing of rocks by Arabs on the Mount on Kotel worshipers below, is a murderous terrorist attack that actually was perpetrated from the Temple Mount: In 1986, Palestinian terrorists threw grenades at an IDF Kotel ceremony, killing one Jew and wounding 69.
Shragai hopes his book will be read and even internalized by many Arabs, and that they will realize their fear of Israel is groundless. Our own hope, possibly more realistic, is that the Jews will realize their fear of upsetting the Arab world, though somewhat self-fulfilling, is based on one big comprehensive falsehood – and that the more we do not claim our rights to our most sacred places, the more we stand to lose them.
In addition to visiting Yerushalayim, our readers can do much in terms of learning about Jerusalem and becoming strong advocates for keeping Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty. For information on our bus tours in news-making areas of Jerusalem, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech website at www.keepjerusalem.org.
Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel’s minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel, past senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7, is a veteran writer on Jerusalem affairs. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now live in Beit El.
About the Author: Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel's minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel, past senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7, is a veteran writer on Jerusalem affairs. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now live in Beit El.
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