Jerusalem: More Than Just a City


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Jerusalem deserves more respect than the contemptuous words of a self-hating Jew named Matt Gross, the travel reporter for the New York Times.  His narrow focus ignored the magnificence of the City on the Hill, situated 800 meters above sea level and dominated by biblical hills and towering modern skyscrapers. Likewise, he missed the significance of the human laboratory that is Jerusalem.  The essence of Jerusalem, unbeknownst to Gross, is more than that of a city; it is a symbol of hope for humanity.

In the ancient Old City, surrounded by the Herodian and Ottoman walls, Orthodox Jews bustle about in black long coats co-mingling with priests in black robes and brown-clad monks, as well as with Arab Muslims wearing kaffiyahs on their heads.  Added to the mix, this reporter spotted a nearby mix of mini-skirted Scandinavian girls, Russian, Brazilian, Japanese, Indian, African, British, German, and American tourists, as well as secular and skull-capped Israelis seeking out souvenirs in the narrow alleys of the Arab souk (Arab market).

Just a few yards outside the Jaffa Gate is the newly built Mamila open mall with its chic stores offering clothing, fine jewelry and gift items, as well as art galleries and   restaurants.  At the Aroma, (Israeli chain of café-restaurants with branches in New York) one can witness a heartwarming sight of head covered Arab-Muslim women sitting next to a table with Orthodox Jewish women whose hair is also covered.  At another table, western attired Arabs are arguing loudly in good spirit, while at the next table skull-capped Israeli teenagers are busy talking.  In another corner of the Café, three young Arab-Muslim girls are giggling and exchanging experiences in Arabic.  Secular Israeli Jews can also be seen in this kaleidoscope that makes up Israeli society.  It is a picture of peace, in contrast to the often portrayed scenes of conflict and violence western reporters are so fond of presenting their readers in New York, London, Paris, Berlin, and Toronto.

Jerusalem is not merely a holy city for Christian pilgrims who come to follow the path of Jesus’  last torturous walk along the Via Delarosa’s Stations of the Cross, the Church of the Holy Sepulchere (Jesus’ burial place) or the Garden Tomb. Nor is Jerusalem’s Kotel, or Western wall (a remnant of the Temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE) the only meaningful Jerusalem experience for Jews.  In addition to archaeology and biblical history, Jerusalem is a vibrant mix of culture, entertainment, and natural beauty, aspects of which Mr. Gross did not bother to examine.

The Hebrew University at Givat Ram in central Jerusalem is an outstanding academic institution that offers enriching lectures on a wide range of issues, and its Mount Scopes facility offers a beautiful view of the city.  The city is replete with museums, a biblical zoo, and historical sites, as well as a magnificent Supreme Court building and the Knesset hill.

Malha Mall, built just outside of the city, has become a hub for locals and city folk – a place where Arab and Jewish Jerusalemites come together.  And, in central Jerusalem on the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall one sees tourists, out-of-town Israelis and locals in the restaurants, falafel stands, ice cream parlors, gift stores and the ever present nut shops with mouthwatering pistachios, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, almonds, and more.  The cozy Nahalat Shiv’a, another pedestrian promenade is located nearby and offers tourists the best of Israeli artists in chic galleries, and a variety of foods in its many restaurants.

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  • NotaBene

    Nope, just a city – and not a very nice one, either. It'd be better for humanity if all of us stopped obsessing over geographical locations, sacred mountains, sacred rocks, trees, statues etc.

  • Nakba1948

    I disagree, NotaBene. Jerusalem is a beautiful, historic, and holy city, a symbol of hope for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. That is why it should be an international city, free from the territorial and religious claims of one nation or religion. Surely this wouldn't affect either Israeli or Palestinian security. Indeed, the Zionists agreed to this proposition, as articulated in the 1947 UN Partition Plan, before they took the entire city in their 1967 war of aggression.

    • NotaBene

      Well I disagree, but I guess it’s a matter of opinion…

      Funny that in the whole article he never mentions the Dome of the Rock, surely one of the city’s most beautiful and iconic buildings.

  • Ghostwriter

    Mostly because Jews were BANNED by the Muslim authorities from going to their holy places. Please read up more before you make more imbecilic comments,Nakba1948.

    • NotaBene

      When was that? When the Western Wall was under Jordanian occupation my grandparents used to visit it without incident (joining the other Jews who came there too).

      • trumpeldor

        No Jews was ever allowed to visit the Kotel under jordanian occupation

        • NotaBene

          Well, that’s a lie. I have photographs.

  • PAthena

    William Blake's poem "Jerusalem" shows how important Jerusalem is to so many people.
    Blake's poem

    And did those feet in ancient time.
    Walk upon England's mountains green:
    And was the holy Lamb of God,
    On England's pleasant pastures seen!

    And did the Countenance Divine,
    Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
    And was Jerusalem builded here,
    Among these dark Satanic Mills?

    Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
    Bring me my Arrows of desire:
    Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
    Bring me my Chariot of fire!

    I will not cease from Mental Fight,
    Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
    Till we have built Jerusalem,
    In England's green & pleasant Land