The 47th anniversary commemorations of Jerusalem’s historic and dramatic reunification under Jewish sovereignty – nearly 2,000 years after the destruction of the Holy Temple – were appropriately joyous. They brought to the fore nearly every aspect of the momentous process that has brought us to where we are today.
In fact, Mayor Nir Barkat’s office – to be precise, his International Media Spokesperson, Brachie Sprung – compiled an impressive list of the city’s accomplishments and little-known information in honor of the occasion.
Most of the items are quite striking, and make a very strong case for the retention of Israeli sovereignty over united Jerusalem as the best thing for the city. Some of them, however, are just plain fascinating; who knew, for example, that 34.9 kilometers of stairs are available as shortcuts for the convenience of residents?
Among the more significant items on the long list of modern Jerusalem’s notable features are these:
- 92% of Jerusalem’s residents are happy with their lives.
- Half the people moving to Jerusalem are aged 20-34.
- The number of young people leaving the city has declined by approximately 70 percent in the past four years.
- Some 2,335 new immigrants settled in Jerusalem during 2013 – 13 percent of all new immigrants to Israel and more than Tel Aviv and Haifa combined.
- A record number of new building projects began in the capital during 2013, breaking the previous record that stood for 20 years.
- Approximately 7 million people visited cultural events, festivals and cultural institutions in the city during 2013.
- Hi-tech revenue in Jerusalem was nearly NIS 12 billion last year, compared with NIS 6.7 billion in Tel Aviv and NIS 7 billion in Haifa. The city is constructing nearly 1,000 new acres for businesses and employment, which will add 100,000 new jobs to the city.
- Some 30,000 runners took part in the fourth International Jerusalem Marathon this year, 2,500 of whom were from 54 countries around the world. The Marathon was selected as one of the ten best international spring races in the world by a prominent British running magazine.
- Jerusalem is Israel’s largest city – almost 31,000 acres large.
- The new HaMesilah Park – 7 kilometers of bicycle paths, lawns, playgrounds and sports facilities – passes through seven city neighborhoods, from Liberty Bell Park to Malcha.
- Education in the state and state-religious sectors, measured in number of students, has seen continuous growth over the past four years, following 15 years of decline.
- There are approximately 2,000 archeological sites in Jerusalem
Should the City be Divided?
Allow us to add the following tidbits:
A study publicized by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs shows that more Arabs in eastern Jerusalem would prefer to become citizens of Israel rather than citizens of a new Palestinian state. Forty percent said they would probably or definitely move in order to live under Israeli, rather than Palestinian, rule.
In addition, 44 percent of Jerusalem Arabs say they are very or somewhat satisfied with their standard of living – significantly higher than Arab world populations. Only about 30 percent sympathize with either Fatah or Hamas or the Israeli Arab Islamic movement.
Three-quarters of eastern Jerusalem Arabs are at least a little concerned, and more than half are more than a little concerned, that they would lose their ability to write and speak freely if they became citizens of a PLO state rather than remaining under Israeli control.
In honor of Jerusalem Day, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced a series of Cabinet decisions to strengthen the city. Two sample projects: The Tiferet Yisrael synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City will be rebuilt, as was the Hurva Synagogue in 2010. Both of them were major landmarks in Jerusalem’s physical and spiritual skyline before being destroyed by Arab forces during War of Independence in 1948. The city will also assist in completing the construction of a national archaeological center in the area of the museums, including storage facilities for the country’s treasures, the scientific archive and an advanced archaeological library.