Sunday, September 15, 2019

  • Sunday, September 15, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon


The New York Times has an article that is very critical of the planned cable car system that will link the Kotel and City of David with the western part of the holy city.

I am not a fan of the cable car idea, but the Times article goes beyond valid points into much more fundamental criticism of Israel's excavation and preservation of ancient Jewish sites - criticism that cannot be viewed as anything but an anti-Israel narrative.

Examples:

The cable-car project is an example, illustrating how Israel wields architecture and urban planning to extend its authority in the occupied territories. Whatever its transit merits, which critics say are negligible, the cable car curates a specifically Jewish narrative of Jerusalem, furthering Israeli claims over Arab parts of the city.

...Cable car passengers will be funneled through a Jewish version of the city’s history. After disembarking at the City of David, they can tour the archaeological site, then proceed underground to the Western Wall via Herodian passageways walked by Jewish pilgrims during the era of the Second Temple and now partly excavated beneath the homes of Palestinian families in Silwan.

Notwithstanding that several Arab homes may be demolished to make room for it, in effect the cable car pretends Arab Silwan isn’t there. Tourists will fly over and tunnel under Silwan’s Palestinian residents without actually having to encounter them.
It is a cable car meant for tourists. Silwan is not exactly a tourist spot. This criticism is not about the cable car but about the fact that Arabs claim that Silwan, known earlier as Shiloach, is an exclusively Arab area.

It was, once, after the Jews were expelled in the 1930s.

The article notes that one of the cable car stations is at what is now known as Mount Zion, which is more associated with Christianity than Judaism - it has the "Room of the Last Supper" and other places more of interest to Christians than Jews. But the New York Times doesn't mention that because the thesis of the article is how Israel is Judaizing Jerusalem - exactly what the Arabs claim.

Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, tweeted:





The NYT goes on:

The plan can bring to mind Israel’s so-called bypass roads, built to safely speed Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank to Jerusalem without passing through Palestinian towns.
The alternative is to endanger the Jews who want to reach their homes, who could easily be caught in Arab roadblocks and lynched. Apparently, that is preferable to the reporter.
Even the cladding of East Jerusalem’s settlements in Jerusalem stone, the architectural uniform traditionally worn by buildings in Jewish West Jerusalem, helps spread the image of a single Jewish city.
Guess who created the law that all buildings in Jerusalem be built with Jerusalem stone? The British, as can be seen in this 1995 article in the very same New York Times that glorified the city's use of Jerusalem stone:

Heaven intrudes upon Jerusalem in another way, too, in the recurring question of how much the whole city should itself resemble a perfect kingdom, or simply be allowed to look like other places. The British, who governed Jerusalem from 1917 to 1947, made a powerful gesture toward a higher Jerusalem when they decreed that all buildings had to be faced with Jerusalem stone, a local form of limestone with an exceptionally warm, golden hue. .... This rule may be the most important single act of city planning ever in Jerusalem. The stone is an extraordinary material, rich and textured and almost magical in the glow of dawn and dusk in the city's heavy light, and it brings even the most mediocre architecture into a sense of wholeness with the city.
The newer NYT article praises the British for doing the very thing it falsely berates the Israelis for doing:

Modern Jerusalem was spared Disneyfication, first by the highborn culture of British colonialism, with its awe for the city’s antique past, and next by Jordanian paralysis, which froze the Old City as if in amber.
Well, not exactly. The Jordanians destroyed a number of major synagogues that used to be part of the Jerusalem skyline and now are being rebuilt by those terrible Israelis who, the Times implies, have no regard for history by "Disneyfying" Jerusalem.

Again, I think the cable cars are a mistake, but this article is blaming Israel for the remarkable job of keeping Jerusalem both a sacred place and a livable place over the past 52 years.

(h/t Yisrael Medad)





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