Final steps are underway for building the City of David’s “Kedem” visitor’s center in Jerusalem that will sit on top of the “Givati Parking Lot” excavation just outside of the Old City of Jerusalem’s walls. The visitor’s center will serve as an entryway to the Jerusalem Walls National Park, which includes the City of David and Mount Zion, as well as to the Old City’s Ophel and Hulda Gates.
Several Arab and left-wing activist groups have criticized the project for its location in the predominately Arab eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan and for interfering with the skyline of the Old City.
Many public officials and archaeologists including — Harvard University professor of design Carl Steinitz, Nobel Laureate Yisrael Aumann and renowned archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay—have spoken out in favor of the project.
The structure will sit approximately 21 feet below the Old City walls so that it will not affect the iconic Jerusalem skyline, according to the City of David.
“The City’s goal is to lay down the infrastructure to accommodate about 10 million visitors a year,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement.
Israel’s new government has approved a five-year plan to upgrade and further develop the area around the Western Wall.
The project is already raising tensions because the Palestinian Authority is demanding Israel hand over the Old City plus much of the rest of Israel’s capital, as well as all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza to create a new Arab country to be called “Palestine.”
The Western Wall is part of the Temple Mount compound, Judaism’s holiest site, the sole remnant of the ancient Holy Temple of Jerusalem.
The Temple Mount area is also sacred to Muslims, and is considered the third holiest site in Islam.
To both, the site represents the heartbeat of the religious universe.
Israel plans to develop the area with upgraded infrastructure, improved archaeological activity and, further development of the Western Wall site, and underground tunnels that run along the length of the Wall.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed Sunday at a Jerusalem Day ceremony that the Israeli capital will remain undivided “forever.”
Speaking at the government’s official Jerusalem Day ceremony held at Ammunitition Hill, Netanyahu said, “We need to tell the truth without fear. This is where we began our path as a nation.
“This is our home – and this is where we will stay.”
The priority, said Netanyahu, is to ensure that Jerusalem forever remains open to all who wish to worship within her walls.
When Jordan occupied the eastern portion of the Israeli capital, that was not the case – despite an original United Nations mandate directing that Jerusalem always remain an open, international capital of the world. Instead, barbed wire blocked off Jewish access to Judaism’s holiest sites, and to a great extent even Christian access to sites holy to that faith as well.
Filth and garbage was strewn all around and over the Western Wall, nearly burying the holy site.
“Only under Israeli rule will there be freedom of worship for all religions in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said. “Believers pray at their holy sites not in spite of our rule in the city, but precisely because of it,” he noted.
“We will forever preserve an undivided Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty,” Netanyahu vowed.
“Who opposes our presence in Jerusalem? Those who refuse to recognize our right to exist as a sovereign nation in our own state,” the prime minister said. “They see us as a foreign entity that needs to be uprooted.”
He added that just as the radical Islamists are terrorizing the rest of the region, so too are they aiming at Jerusalem – and after the heartbeat of the Holy Land, next will be the West.
“Sunni extremists like Da’esh (ISIS), and Shi’ite extremists like the leadership of the ayatollahs in Iran,” he pointed out. [They] “fight each other, but [then] they have a common enemy: the West and the open, free culture it represents.”
Netanyahu also warned against the nuclear technology deal being negotiated between Iran and the world powers led by the United States.
“We are opposed to that deal and we are not the only ones,” he said. “There needs to be a better deal.”
Leftist political leader Zehava Gal-On did her best but failed to prevent Israelis from celebrating Jerusalem Day with the traditional Flag Dance march through the Old City on Sunday – including the Muslim Quarter.
Many tens of thousands of students and Israelis from around the country participate in the colorful and musical march every year, celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem. But as a rule, the Left have chosen to never participate in the march or the celebrations.
Writing in frustration on her Facebook page Sunday, the chairwoman of the Meretz political party condemned the annual procession.
She called it a “violent, racist act of provocation against Arab residents” of Jerusalem, joining other leftists who attempted to prevent this year’s parade with a petition and appeal to the High Court last week.
The effort failed, however, with the Court deciding it was not legal to prevent the 30-year-old procession from taking place, but noting there would be “zero room for tolerance for those provoking violence, verbally or physically.”
On Sunday morning, the chief rabbis of Israel led thousands in Jerusalem Day prayers at the Western Wall, attended also by heads of yeshivot and other senior clerics.
“It is outrageous to see far-right elements take over Jerusalem Day and turn it into a day that has entirely become a racist, violent act of provocation against the city’s Arabs,” Gal-On wrote.
“The ‘Flag Parade’ through the Muslim Quarter is an aggressive show of force whose entire purpose is to jab a finger in the eyes of the Palestinians.
“Officials who allow this disgrace do so in order to remind everyone they are lords of this Land and the ease with which they can come in, rampage and go wild.”
Sounds like sour grapes, by someone who hasn’t succeeded in redividing the city.
Photos from Jerusalem Day Parades past:
Thousands of Israelis take part in the annual flag parade, celebrating Jerusalem Day in the streets of Jerusalem.
Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker visited the Western Wall (Kotel) this week for the first of several photo-ops that are likely to precede an announcement in June that he will be another candidate for the GOP presidential nomination.
“Really, for us though, we wanted to make it an educational focus, not just a media trip,” Walker said.
His “education” will be focused on learning enough about Israel that he can convince people he know something about foreign policy, a subject on which he already has proved is far from being his ace.
Walker recently compared the Islamic State (ISIS) with union protesters, meaning he could take care of both groups, CNN reported.
He obviously is not on the left side of the Republican party.
Walker said in South Carolina last Saturday:
We need a commander-in-chief who will once and for all call it what it is, and that is that radical Islamic terrorism is a threat to us all. We need a president who will affirm that Israel is our ally, and start acting like it.
His itinerary covers the usual required sites, such as the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial. He also will meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Knesset Members and IDF officers.
A helicopter tour will give him a bird’s-eye view of Israel’s narrow borders with unfriendly neighbors.
Walker returns to the United States on Thursday, where he undoubtedly will tell everyone how much he now knows about Israel.
It is amazing how politicians learn so much so quickly. Gov. Walker said in South Carolina last week:
Although I’ve only been here once this year, I know South Carolina. Now get to know me.
If Israel is going to be his calling card in the crowded field of Republican presidential candidates, Walker does not have much of a chance. Israel is near the bottom of subjects that interest most American voters.
But terror is big, and Walker is big on fighting terror.
In his speech in South Carolina, he said:
it is not a matter of if another attempt is made on American soil; it is a when another attempt is made on American soil…. I want a leader who is willing to take the fight to them before they take the fight to us.
If Gov. Walker joins the race to be the GOP presidential candidate in 2016, he will have plenty of company. His problem, and that of most other Republican candidates, is that they all sound alike.
Israelis are planning to celebrate Jerusalem Day with the traditional Dance of Flags – now in its 30th year – next Sunday. The High Court has also approved a march through the Muslim Quarter in the Old City, despite an attempt by leftist groups to ban the event.
The Lion’s Gate into the Old City will remain closed to prevent unrest or incitement from Arab demonstrators, police said, despite requests to open it.
Presiding Justice of the Supreme Court Miriam Naor warned police to immediately arrest any participants in the march who called for “death to Arabs.” Likewise, the High Court of Justice, upon appeal, warned there was “zero room for tolerance for those provoking violence, either verbally or physically.”
Naor said such actions in context of a march were not “freedom of speech” but rather “freedom to incite” and could not be allowed under the law.
The petition to block the march was filed by the leftist Tag Meir and Ir Amim groups, which claimed past marches were violent and provocative. The Court ruled against the petition and rejected their appeal as well.
The court also called on rabbis and others at the march to ensure participants maintain a peaceful demeanor.
An open letter was sent to Israel Police Inspector-General Yochanan Danino and Jerusalem District Police Assistant Chief Moshe Edri by outgoing Housing Minister Uri Ariel, demanding the authorities reopen the Lion’s Gate for Jerusalem Day.
But police will maintain the ban against opening the Lion’s Gate, one of seven entrances through the walled ramparts of the Old City.
It was the Lion’s Gate the IDF paratroopers managed to break through to enter the Old City and liberate the Jordan-occupied side of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War. Since the new Light Rail began operations in the capital, however, the Lion’s Gate has been closed to marches due to safety issues.
The Rosh Chodesh march around the Old City walls each month that leads to the Western Wall still passes through the Muslim Quarter as well as the Damascus and Jaffa Gates.
Likewise, security personnel will be on high alert for the day in Jerusalem and around the country as Israel celebrates the reunification of the holy capital.
Retired neurosurgeon and black Republican Dr. Ben Carson has announced he is running to be his party’s nominee for president in next year’s election.
Dr. Carson visited Israel in December, reported here, an unofficial prerequisite for presidential candidates.
The 63-year-old Republican is from Detroit, lived in Baltimore for more than 35 years and now lives in Florida. He was the first black doctor to head the Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgery unit.
His lack of both political experience and ties with such factions as the Tea Party offers Republican voters a distinct choice among the growing number of candidates. However, he does not have the organization and political experience of other contenders, the most popular being Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul and former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, also from outside the political world, is considering tossing her hat in the political ring.
Dr. Carson grew up in poverty and has the appeal to white voters as their desired image of an America where anyone can achieve success through hard work and without making himself out to be a victim.
He has been a harsh critic of President Barack Obama, whom Dr. Carson once described as someone who “seems to believe more in a utopian view of cradle-to-grave care.”
He has made headlines, for better and for worse, on the issue of same-sex marriage. Below is an interview on CNN in which he maintained that homosexuality is a choice and that each state should decide for itself whether or not to allow marriages of homosexuals. He said in the interview that many people become homosexuals after being in prison.
After harsh criticism, he apologized, and Dr. Carson stated before announcing his candidacy today:
I’ve come to recognize that when you use certain terms, people can no longer hear anything else you say. As you’ll notice in the last several weeks, I’ve been able to get my points across without inflammatory language.
In his visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem in December, Dr. Carson placed a note between the bricks and later referred to King Solomon in an interview with CBN and said he asked God for “Solomonic wisdom on what to do” concerning the race for president.
His stand on Israel is clear, and he told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu,
“Until such time as their neighbors are no longer desirous of their elimination,” Israel’s continued control of the West Bank “makes perfectly good sense.”
Dr. Carson’s strong conservative stand may appeal to Christian evangelists despite his being black.
He said at the national Prayer Breakfast earlier this year that the United States is headed for “moral decay and fiscal irresponsibility.” He also declared:
We have imposed upon people restrictions on what they can say, on what they can think. And the media is the largest proponent of this, crucifying people who say things really quite innocently.
President Barack Obama was sitting a few feet away, and although Carson did not directly blame the president for America’s ills, the White House was upset.
“Within a matter of minutes after the conclusion of the program, I received a call from some of the prayer breakfast organizers saying that the White House was upset and requesting that I call the president and apologize for offending him,” Carson later wrote in his book “One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future.”
Carson added in his book, “I said that I did not think that he was offended and that I didn’t think that such a call was warranted.”