In a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal last week, Eli Wiesel described Jerusalem as “the world’s Jewish spiritual capital” and “the heart of our heart, the soul of our soul.” The Sheikh Jarrah [Just Jerusalem] activists who, unlike Wiesel, actually live in Jerusalem, say: “We cannot recognize our city in the sentimental abstraction you call by its name.” They describe the city they call home as “crumbling under the weight of its own idealization.” . . . writes Paul Woodward at War in Context…Jerusalem is crumbling under the weight of its own idealization.
From their letter:
Our Jerusalem is concrete…its streets lined with synagogues, mosques and churches…populated with people, young and old, women and men, who wish their city to be a symbol of dignity…Your Jerusalem is an ideal, an object of prayers and a bearer of the collective memory of a people…The tortuous municipal boundaries of today’s Jerusalem were drawn by Israeli generals and politicians shortly after the 1967 war. … encircling dozens of Palestinian villages which were never part of Jerusalem…we cannot stand by and watch our beloved city [with its] gross inequality in allocation of municipal resources and services between east and west…being used as a springboard for crafty politicians and sentimental populists who claim Jerusalem is above politics and negotiation…We, the people of Jerusalem, can no longer be sacrificed for the fantasies of those who love our city from afar.
Jerusalem is a microcosm of the idealization of Israel in general. Since it only seems to facilitate further marginalization and oppression of Palestinians, do readers think there is any way to disabuse those, especially outside Israel, of the notion that Jerusalem is the repository of all things spiritual?