The Downside of Imperial Collapse
When Empires or Great Powers Fall, Chaos and War Rise
The place of Jerusalem in the process of seeking peace in the Middle East is unique. Its historical, emotional and international complexities set it apart from other issues which may be solved on the basis of mutually agreed boundaries. The questions that the Arabs raise about Jerusalem cannot be decided by drawing a line. The future of Jerusalem cannot be resolved by division.
This does not mean that Jerusalem is "an insoluble problem." It means that Jerusalem's people of differing faiths, cultures and aspirations must find peaceful ways to live together other than by drawing a line in the sand with a stick. It is no solution to build again concrete walls and barbed wire through the middle of the city.
The problem of Jerusalem is difficult because age-old and deeply felt emotions are encrusted over the rationality necessary to find solutions. But I am convinced that these solutions can be found by men of good will.
Let me be perfectly candid. The thing I dread most is that this city, so beautiful, so meaningful, so holy to millions of people, should ever be divided again; that barbed wire fences, mine fields and concrete barriers should again sever its streets; that armed men again patrol a frontier through its heart. I fear the re-division of Jerusalem not only as the mayor of the city, as a Jew and as an Israeli, but as a human being who is deeply sensitive to its history and who cares profoundly about the well-being of its inhabitants.
Jerusalem is, of course, one of the oldest cities. Signs of human habitation have been found dating back at least 4,000 years. In the course of these millennia it has been coveted and conquered by a host of peoples: Canaanites, Jebusites, Jews, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Mamelukes, Ottomans, British, Jews. But throughout those thousands of years, Jerusalem has been divided for less than two decades - from 1948 to 1967. It must never again be divided. Once more to cut this living city in two would be as cruel as it is irrational.
Why have all these successive peoples sought this city? It has no natural resources; it has no port; it has no material wealth. It has been coveted primarily for spiritual reasons; it was the site of the Temple of the Jews, the site of the Crucifixion of Jesus and the place from which Mohammed rose to Heaven.
The fact that all three great monotheistic religions find meaning in Jerusalem cannot be a random accident. I think the reason is clear. First of all, Jerusalem is a beautiful place set in the mystical Judaean Hills, conducive to meditation and thought and wonder at the meaning of life. And secondly, for all their tensions and exclusiveness, the three great religions are historically deeply interrelated. Jesus came to Jerusalem because he was a Jew who made the pilgrimage to the City of David and the Temple. Mohammed, whose roots were in Mecca and Medina, is said to have visited Jerusalem during his night ride because his ideas and his vision were interrelated with Judaism and Christianity. We must live with the reality of these connections. For centuries men have fought and died because of them. But I am not alone in feeling intensely that men can also live in brotherhood because of them.
These very connections make any division of Jerusalem a senseless exercise. The remaining Western Wall of the Temple enclosure, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Dome of the Rock are all in the Old City within yards of each other. The Dome of the Rock is actually on top of the Temple Mount, the very site of the Temple of the Jews.
In 1947, as the British were about to relinquish their Mandate over Palestine, the United Nations, in addition to its partition recommendations, proposed to make Jerusalem an internationalized city. This solution proved unacceptable to both Muslims and Jews. Immediately following the passage of the United Nations resolution the Arabs initiated violent attacks on the Jews of Jerusalem. At the end of the generalized and prolonged fighting which followed, the Arabs held East Jerusalem and the Old City, and the Jews, West Jerusalem.
The Vatican supported internationalization at that time. But the Roman Catholic Church, although of great influence in the world, is only one element among the more than 30 Christian denominations in Jerusalem. The Catholics, for example, own about 17 percent of the Christian Holy Places. Apart from this, however, for various reasons the emphasis of the Vatican seems over the years to have been greatly modified. Nor is internationalization supported by other leading Christian communities in Jerusalem.
The religious tenets of the Muslims exclude internationalization because they reject the idea that the Temple Mount - the Haram - should be ruled by infidels. From that point of view Dr. Waldheim is as much an infidel as I am. Moreover, it does not accord with their political aspirations. As to the Jews the centrality of Jerusalem in Jewish faith and tradition and the intensity of Jewish feeling about Jerusalem are reflected in the 2,000-year-old prayer repeated throughout the centuries, "Next year in Jerusalem." This symbolizes not only a religious hope but memories of ancient glories under Jewish rule and an unyielding struggle for their revival. All this is expressed for Jews in the word "Jerusalem." The Jewish people cannot give up Jerusalem, nor can or will they ever again remove their capital from Jerusalem.
But independent of these intense feelings, internationalization will not work for pragmatic reasons. Past experience, whether in Trieste or in Danzig, has shown its unworkability. In the case of Danzig indeed it contributed to bringing on a world war.
A city cannot be run by a committee, particularly a city of such complexities and diversities as Jerusalem. Before building a road or a sewage system, the committee members would have to refer back to their foreign offices or to a United Nations bureaucracy. And who would pay the bills? Jerusalem is not an industrial city; its economy is based on government and education and tourism, and it does not have the taxing power to pay for itself. Today it is supported by the state of Israel. To this should be added that Israel's experience in the United Nations of recent years has been traumatic and there is little or no confidence that an international body, which presumably would operate under the authority of and reflect various power elements in the United Nations, would be either impartial or effective.
The mayor of Jerusalem does not make foreign policy; that is the function of Israel's national government. But when I look at the future of Jerusalem, there are two premises with which virtually everyone in Israel agrees. Those are the premises I have already suggested: that Jerusalem shall remain undivided and that it shall remain the capital of Israel. All Jerusalemites of every persuasion demand that, under whatever political solution, the city will remain accessible to all and the rights of every religion to its holy places will be preserved.
These two conditions have now existed for ten years - since the city was so unexpectedly unified when the Jordanians attacked Israel in the June 1967 War. And I think that the history of relations in Jerusalem between Jews, Arabs and Christians during this decade points to the kind of solution we should eventually evolve for Jerusalem.
Tensions do exist today in the city and nobody can deny them. But it was a much less happy city when walls and barbed wire divided it; and it was certainly a more violent city than it is today. We have made progress towards a city of tolerant coexistence in which common interests are emerging, and we have established crucial principles that make continuing progress possible. Four of these principles are:
1. There shall be free access to all the Holy Places and they shall be administered by their adherents.
2. Everything possible shall be done to ensure unhindered development of the Arab way of life in the Arab sections of the city and to ensure the Arabs a practical religious, cultural, and commercial governance over their own daily lives. The same holds true, of course, for the various Christian communities.
3. Everything possible should be done to ensure equal governmental, municipal and social services in all parts of the city.
4. Continuing efforts should be made to increase cultural, social and economic contacts among the various elements of Jerusalem's population.
And, in fact, civic affairs, law enforcement, infrastructure services, urban planning, marketing and supply, and to a great extent specialized medical services are centrally provided to all Jerusalemites.
Let me briefly discuss these four principles.
First, the Holy Places. Throughout their occupation of East Jerusalem from 1948 to 1967, the Jordanians reneged on their commitments under the Armistice Agreement to permit Jews to have access to and to pray at the Western Wall. Instead, there was a mass destruction of Jewish synagogues, and other religious shrines were desecrated. There was a ban on the acquisition of land by Christian churches in any part of East Jerusalem. We have no reason to think the Arabs would act differently in the future. They have not in the meantime become more tolerant.
Ever since the reunification of the city by Israel, access has been opened to all Holy Places for all religions and sects. Today Christians administer Christian Holy Places and Muslims administer Muslim Holy Places. Israel is a tolerant enclave in an intolerant part of the world.
In practice satisfactory working arrangements have evolved for the Holy Places. The Arabs have independent administration without interference, and we maintain sovereignty. International lawyers would no doubt find it a problem to formulate these arrangements in a way satisfactory to both sides. But in practice it exists and works well.
The Temple Mount - a small area of 40 or 50 acres - is the most delicate problem. It is under Arab administration and Israeli sovereignty. After the fire set by a demented Australian fundamentalist Christian to the Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount in 1969, the Arabs asked us to help guard this "Holy Enclosure." For the previous years, we had had no actual signs of our sovereignty on the Temple Mount. But then, at the Muslims' request, we appointed policemen to protect the Muslim Holy Places. No details were discussed, but the police unit guarding the Temple Mount is commanded by a Muslim officer and manned by a mixture of Muslim, Jewish and Christian policemen. This arrangement is based on a tacit de facto understanding emerging from the necessities of a complicated situation.
More recently, tension was caused when a group of young Jews attempted to pray on the Temple Mount in violation of present regulations and despite the fact that the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has prohibited religious Jews from even visiting the Temple Mount, because they may inadvertently step on the place where only the High Priest was allowed in ancient days.
Arab members of the Israeli police force stationed on the Temple Mount arrested the young men and brought them to trial. The magistrate found in favor of the Jewish boys and ruled that there is an inherent Jewish right to pray on the Temple Mount. Sensing a storm, I pressed the government for an immediate policy statement. In response, the Minister of Police issued a statement forbidding prayers on the Temple Mount. But the crisis was more serious than the government anticipated. Arabs, drawing on their concept of their own governments and courts, could not believe that a magistrate would make such a decision without prior authorization from a political authority. They suspected a salami tactic to take the Temple Mount from them slice by slice.
A reassuring statement from either the Prime Minister or the Minister of Justice might perhaps have been helpful. But the facts that the affair was still in judicial hands and that there is in Israel a clear distinction between judicial and administrative functions were no doubt inhibiting factors. Meanwhile, against the background of the fighting in the Lebanon and unrelated tensions in the West Bank, the fat was in the fire. There followed a series of serious demonstrations in the city.
Fortunately, however, the vast majority of Muslims in Jerusalem did not participate in the disturbances. Subsequently the Israel High Court overruled the decision of the magistrate. To me the whole incident was proof that there is a possibility of living together.
Second, unhindered development of the Arab way of life in the Arab sections of the city and Arab autonomy over their own daily lives:
We are, in American terms, a moderate-sized city - in all 370,000 of whom about 260,000 are Jews, about 90,000 Muslim Arabs and 15,000 Christians. Of the Christians, the majority are Armenians, Greeks, Ethiopians and members of various other venerable denominations. Roughly the same proportion between Jews and non-Jews has continued since the first unofficial census was taken in 1840 when the Jews were first recorded a majority in the city.
We are not trying to create a monolithic melting pot in Jerusalem. What we are trying to do is preserve, in this multi-cultural mosaic of a pluralistic society, the traditions that have existed in the city for centuries.
If you had walked into the city a hundred years ago, you would have found the same patterns. It comprised then only the small area enclosed by the City walls, just about one square kilometer. Entering through the Jaffa Gate, you would have found an Armenian Quarter, a Greek Quarter, a Latin Quarter, several little enclaves of Copts, Abyssinians and other Christian groups, a very large Muslim Quarter and an even larger Jewish Quarter. There was no intermarriage and not much social contact but relations were on the whole reasonable and bearable. The basic idea was that each person felt himself superior to everyone else.
These separate entities still exist today and we have built on them and on that tradition. Jerusalem's Jews consist of oldtimers and natives of the city and recent immigrants, coming from over a hundred different cultural backgrounds. This great Jewish variety has its own loyalties and aspirations. Among the Christian groups are Arabs - mainly Protestants and some Uniates - who have Arab national loyalties. Sometimes these feelings are very strong because minorities tend to try to give proof of stronger loyalties than secure majorities.
The majority of Christians in Jerusalem have only one desire, namely to continue their own way of life as they have done for a very long time. The Greek Patriarchs go back to the first century; the Armenians have been here since the fifth century. The Christians in the city measure every government by the freedom given them to run their affairs undisturbed. That is their loyalty.
We don't interfere with them, their Holy Places, their pilgrimages or their schools. We help wherever and whenever we are asked to do so. The Jordanians had imposed two restrictive laws. One forced the Christian schools to give equal time to the Bible and the Koran; the other restricted Christian orders or foreigners from buying land or building churches. We have abolished both laws, and in fact four new major churches have since been built or are under construction. Like the Muslims, the Christians have authority over their own institutions and Holy Places. We do everything possible to help them maintain them.
The Arabs are in a difficult position: some, perhaps many, must have been proud when Arafat appeared before the United Nations. And yet I believe that most of them do not really expect or wish the Palestine Liberation Organization to solve their intricate problems nor regard the PLO ideology as desirable, let alone tenable. This is not because they are pro-Israel or pro-Zionist. Their fundamental goal is to remain in Jerusalem and to preserve the Arab character of their part of the city. That is their loyalty. The PLO threatens to put all this in jeopardy.
During the 19 years of Jordanian rule, Jerusalem experienced an emigration of Arabs. It was a dead-end city and all the opportunities were in Amman or in the oil countries. Christians tended to emigrate to North and South America. In order for the Arabs to remain here, they need a flourishing economic life. Today, they have economic prosperity and employment. And since their economy is to a great extent based on cooperation with the Jewish economy, terrorism and the PLO are not in the interests of local Arab nationalism and the continuation of the Arab presence in Jerusalem.
They face another danger. When the Mufti of Jerusalem fought the British and the Jews in the Palestine of the British Mandate in the 1930s, more Arabs who opposed him were killed by him and his henchmen than were British and Jews put together. About 500 Jews and 150 British lost their lives, while about 1,200 Arab civilians and 2,000 gang members were killed by their own brother Arabs. The Mufti was the father of the present-day PLO ideology of a monolithic and militant Arab Palestine nationalism. Jerusalem's Arabs fear a repetition of such internal terrorism if the PLO were to take over, particularly in the light of what has happened in Algeria and Lebanon.
There is, unfortunately, little tolerance today in Islam. To those who follow it closely, Islam seems on the march again, riding on the power and riches of oil which are expected to revive ancient glories and make amends for Tours and Vienna.
Many have already suffered at the hands of this revived intolerance: the Christian Maronites of Lebanon, the black Christians and pagans in the Sudan, the Jews in Syria, the Copts of Egypt and the Kurds of Iraq (for not being ethnically Arab). All have experienced varying degrees of persecution or outright genocide.
But to return to Jerusalem, our efforts to help the Arabs preserve their way of life in the city during the past decade have taken many forms:
The only place in the Arab world where there is a free press - free not only to criticize the Israeli government in the most violent terms, but also to criticize Arab leadership - is in Jerusalem, where three Arab dailies are published. This contrasts with the fact that several months before the Six Day War the Jordanian government decided to suppress the semi-independent newspapers of Jerusalem and replace them by a single government-controlled daily.
There is freedom to travel. A Jerusalem Arab is free to decide any morning to cross the bridge into Jordan and to go from there to any country. He can go whenever he likes and come back whenever he likes. 150,000 Arabs come to Jerusalem every year from Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait and Libya and everywhere else in the Arab world. They carry passports of countries that are at war with us. And they are welcome, because we have undertaken to make the Holy Shrines accessible to everyone.
There is an Arab curriculum in the schools for Arab children, and these schools are entirely maintained by the city. During their three final school years, Arab children have the choice of a course of study designed to qualify them for acceptance by an Arab university in the neighboring Arab countries. This course is acceptable even to the Arab League, and inspectors recognized by the Jordanian Ministry of Education come to Jerusalem to supervise the university entrance examinations. If they so prefer, Arab students can take a different course of study during those last three years at school and go to an Israeli university.
The beginnings of post-secondary education started by a Catholic college in Bethlehem and continuation classes in the Anglican school are also contributing to the raising of Arab educational achievement.
The only change introduced into the former Jordanian curriculum - besides eliminating hate propaganda - provides for Arab children to learn Hebrew. At the same time Israel is making special efforts to encourage the study of Arabic.
We have encouraged the growth of economic opportunities. We have built Arab vocational training schools and hope to build more, offering sophisticated subjects, such as electronics, computer technology, and others that will give Arab youth a chance to improve their standard of living and their self-respect. We are doing what we can to encourage Arab self-confidence and at the same time strengthen the Arab economy in Jerusalem.
And, finally, with few exceptions, the Arabs of Jerusalem are not only citizens of the city but remain citizens of Jordan at the same time. Few have in fact applied for Israeli citizenship and no pressure has been exerted on them to do so. We do not seek nor do we have any interest to break their ties to their families, their heritage and their culture. On the contrary, we encourage such links.
The Arab community of Jerusalem continues its public activities in various fields. Jerusalem houses the Association of Arab Free Professions of the West Bank, it has several Arab clubs, charitable societies, private schools and orphanages, etc.
All the measures we have taken thus far have been unilateral decisions of the Israeli government and the municipal administration. I have constantly advocated and called on the Arab citizens of the city to share actively in the decision-making process but so far with little success. Our efforts have been handicapped by the refusal of the Arab leadership to hold political office or openly to participate in the city's elected government. At the same time, many Arabs hold high appointed municipal office and well over 20 percent of the city's employees are Arabs, while almost all the former Arab municipal employees have continued in their jobs. Thousands of Arabs vote in our municipal elections (without accepting the principle of Israeli sovereignty); but fears lest running for municipal office be interpreted as accepting Israeli governance have prevented local leaders from standing for election in the municipal administration.
In practice we have overcome this problem in several ways. There is a Supreme Muslim Council which serves as the authority for Muslim affairs under non-Muslim rule. The Council was originally created by the British in 1921, later suspended by the Jordanian government and transferred to Amman, and reestablished in Jerusalem after the Six Day War. Though it is a self-appointed body not officially recognized by Israeli authorities, we deal with its leaders on day-to-day matters on a de facto basis.
We on our part have appointed an adviser on East Jerusalem affairs. He is a Jew and two of his three assistants are East Jerusalem Arabs. They keep in touch with the Arab community in many informal ways, learning its needs and helping to solve its problems.
Communication is also maintained through the ancient system of Mukhtars, or district leaders, each of whom is responsible for such matters as registering births, deaths, and land ownerships and notarizing documents in his locale. The 60 Mukhtars are not democratically elected by their constituents, but they act in the local tradition and perform useful functions.
The Chamber of Commerce of East Jerusalem performs numerous tasks which make possible the free flow of people and goods across the open bridges on the Jordan River. These include providing powers of attorney, authenticating high school diplomas for those wishing to study in Arab universities and so on. It also serves as a channel through which substantial amounts of Jordanian money are brought in to pay salaries to lawyers, teachers and others who in 1967 decided not to resume their work under the Israeli authorities.
In this manner and spirit we do our utmost both to retain flexibility and to reinforce contacts of all kinds with the Arab community of the city.
For some time now, I have envisioned a future structure in Jerusalem under which the city would be governed through a network of boroughs. Each borough would have a great deal of autonomy over its own municipal services and its life style. It would decide its own needs and priorities. It would be modeled not on the boroughs of New York but on those of London, which have their own budgets and a great deal of independence.
Of course, the borough idea is not a panacea. The Arabs will want the Temple Mount to be in their borough, and no Jew would agree to that. But the proposal does suggest an approach under which many of the aspects of everyday life can be delegated to local authorities, and the people of the various neighborhoods can feel some increasing control over their own lives and decisions.
By making our efforts permanent, by assuring their administration of the Temple Mount and by increasing their local autonomy, we hope to diminish any feeling among Jerusalem's Arabs that their way of life is threatened by Israeli sovereignty. We want to create a secure future for Arabs within the capital of Israel.
The third principle we follow is that everything possible should be done to provide equal municipal and social services in all parts of the city.
We are doing this despite the fact that Jerusalem is a poor city. It has no great industrial base. Although presently there is full employment, the people have not been able to accumulate capital. The population of this city of immigrants, both Jews and non-Jews, has grown by 350 percent in 25 years - a record increase! Most of the city's Jews - 60 percent - are refugees from Arab countries who arrived without means and without useful skills. We also have a great number of elderly people, including aged Jewish immigrants who have prayed all their lives to come to Jerusalem. And we have a disproportionate share of young people in schools - 90,000 from nursery schools to the Hebrew University. Our actual labor force is smaller than in other places.
In spite of these difficulties, we have done a great deal to improve local services and to equalize opportunities. We have created jobs. We have made it possible for Arab lawyers and judges, doctors, dentists and pharmacists to practice their professions without passing Israeli qualification exams. We have permitted corporations and other businesses to operate without the licenses and registrations required by Israeli law. We have extended our social welfare program to East Jerusalem where none existed before. We have opened community health centers in Arab neighborhoods. We have improved schools and built new ones. We have brought roads and electricity to outlying districts for the first time. The East Jerusalem sewage system, which existed only within the city walls, is at least 300 years old and some of it goes back to Roman times. It could not absorb the great new quantities of water we provided, and we are now spending considerable public funds to improve it.
Let me cite one specific example to illustrate some of the problems we face and how we go about solving them: Within the boundaries of Jerusalem, there is an Arab village called Silwan with about 17,000 inhabitants. In 1948, there was no road at all to Silwan. The people used a donkey path that went through an ancient Jewish cemetery. In 1956, the people of Silwan decided they needed a paved road for vehicular traffic and so they poured concrete over the Jewish graves and built a road.
When the Jews returned in 1967, they set about restoring the graves of their grandfathers and great-grandfathers and proceeded to chop up the Jordanian road. The Arabs from Silwan naturally objected vociferously. Within days we took a decision to build an alternative road that would skirt the graves. We allocated $1.5 million, raised the money and completed the road, preserving the graves and providing Silwan with an alternative road, thus avoiding a possible serious clash.
The fourth principle by which we administer the city is that continuing efforts shall be made to increase cultural, social and economic contacts among all the various elements of Jerusalemites.
I see the future of the city dependent in considerable part on the close relationships that can develop between its various components. Today we have joint youth camps in the summer attended by 15,000 youngsters, Jews, Christians and Moslems. We have art classes for Arab as well as Jewish young people at the Israel Museum. Hundreds of Arab children attend these classes. Arabs visit and use Jewish clinics and hospitals. We have even built a garden for the blind, on a former battleground, where Jewish and Arab blind now meet. Of course, we are lucky in one respect: there is no color bar. You can walk through Jerusalem's streets and find Jews and Arabs working side by side, and you will not be able to differentiate between them.
Despite all our efforts, it is obvious that the Arabs in Jerusalem still do not accept being included within Israel's frontiers. But then it must not be forgotten that the city's Arabs also complained about occupation when the Turks, the British and the "Jordanian Bedouin" were in control. And they called it "occupation" even then! Under Jordanian rule, they felt that Jerusalem was neglected and that Amman was favored over Jerusalem, as indeed it was. The Jordanian government rejected the idea of establishing its capital in Jerusalem after it had decided to annex the West Bank and incorporate it in the Hashemite Kingdom. Instances of Jordanian neglect - and disrespect - for Jerusalem were numerous. To quote some: contrary to expectation and hope, the Jordanian government rejected a plea to establish an Arab university in Jerusalem and instead they built it in Amman. When the Hospital of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem was about to be built, the Jordanians tried to persuade the Order of St. John to build its hospital in Amman. Only after the Order threatened not to build its hospital at all did it finally get the necessary permission to build in Jerusalem. No industry was started in Jerusalem. The largest single enterprise in Jordan-controlled Jerusalem, outside of hotels, was a cigarette factory that employed 12 people. Under Jordan's rule nothing was done to improve Jerusalem and there was widespread unhappiness during that time. People tend to forget such past unhappiness.
In the divided city there was, too, more violence than there is today. There was intermittent shooting across the border that ran through the city. Every year, people were killed or wounded. There was a feeling of claustrophobia in the city then. There was no sense of freedom. Everywhere one went, the street ended abruptly with a sign: "Stop. Frontier. Danger Ahead." Today this is but a faint unpleasant memory of the past for Jew and non-Jew alike.
We do not want to make of Jerusalem a parochial city but to restore its ancient glory. We have built a handsome Israel Museum, perhaps the major museum of international art and archaeology between the Eastern Mediterranean and Tokyo. The Jerusalem Museum of Islamic Art and Culture, opened only a couple of years ago, is one of outstanding excellence. The Jerusalem Theater has given us a home for the performing arts. We have built an embryonic center for writers, artists and musicians, at Mishkenot Sha'ananim, to which such world-renowned figures as Pablo Casals, Isaiah Berlin, Friedrich Dürrenmat, Richard Burton, Saul Bellow, Stephen Spender, Alexander Calder, Robert Rauschenberg, Isaac Stern, Simone de Beauvoir, have already come and worked and contributed to the cultural life of the city.
We are deeply immersed in city planning to improve the quality of life in Jerusalem. Our present planning focuses on the Old City and its immediate surroundings. We are developing a green belt around the Old City at great expense. Jerusalem is, I believe, the only city in modern times to create, by purchase, a large central green area such as was preserved by the Boston Common, New York's Central Park, London's Hyde Park, and the Bois de Boulogne of Paris more than a century ago.
To guide us in our planning, we have established a Jerusalem Committee, a unique group of more than 60 eminent people from all over the world: philosophers, historians, theologians, city planners, educators, architects, writers, artists. They gather in Jerusalem periodically and observe what we are planning and what we are doing. Sometimes they criticize us severely; sometimes they praise us. We take the criticism to heart and carry out practically all their recommendations. As a result, Jerusalem is becoming increasingly a more beautiful city literally day by day.
Despite our good intentions and care, there have been controversies. One was over the building of housing for Jews in East Jerusalem outside the Old City walls. This dispute was hardly justified since we did not infringe on any Arab housing. We built mainly on rocky ground newly incorporated into the city. We used no wooded land or land that was employed for agriculture. We removed nothing of value. Our plans call for no further land expropriation in the future.
At the same time, we have provided for Arab expansion too. Jerusalem's Arabs have the highest birthrate in the world and need more and more room in which to live. City-guaranteed mortgages have encouraged several times the amount of annual housing construction that was carried out under Jordanian rule.
We have paid much attention to the beauty of the Old City. We have permitted no changes there. We are rebuilding to scale the Jewish Quarter that was destroyed by the Jordanians in 1948. We have started to replace the forest of television antennas that disfigure the Old City with a central antenna and cables.
We have been improving living space in the poorer neighborhoods. We have planted trees and modernized schools and improved roads and built playgrounds. We have taken special pains with garbage clearance. We have worked hard to make neighborhoods in which young people will not be ashamed to live. We do not want the younger generation to move out.
Another area of controversy has been our eagerness to reveal and preserve the great heritage of Jerusalem's past. We are preserving more than anyone ever thought could be preserved. For this we were condemned by UNESCO, which charged that we were changing the character of Jerusalem with our archaeological digs.
Arabs living far from Jerusalem and not knowing the truth may perhaps have been worried by our archaeological activities. Some Arabs may even fear that we want to rebuild the Temple and that to this end we would undermine or remove the buildings on the Temple Mount. Their fear is groundless. Jews are not allowed to build the Temple since Jewish religious tradition holds that the Temple is already built and is waiting in heaven for the Messiah to come, when it will descend into its appropriate place. Unless and until the Messiah should come, there is therefore no chance of our disturbing the Muslim Holy Places.
What has actually happened is entirely different. More Muslim antiquities have been unearthed by Israeli archaeologists in these past ten years than in all previous history, thus enriching tremendously the world's knowledge of the Muslim past.
We have other complications. For example, we are now building a road from Mount Zion toward the Dung Gate to relieve traffic in the Old City. In our work, we came upon several levels of remains, remnants of Jewish houses destroyed by Titus in 70 A.D., a Roman road of the second century, the ruins of a large church built by Justinian and on top of that several Crusader towers, and above this again, a moat of a 500-year-old Ottoman city wall which badly needed repair because of neglect by the Jordanians. Not only have we changed the alignment of the road at substantial cost and inconvenience, but have also invested much effort and money in preserving the discoveries.
My point is that there is no connection between the complaints about our archaeological digs and reality. People abroad devise stories to feed their political propaganda. In reality we are beautifying, restoring, and preserving Jerusalem, not damaging it. The members of the Jerusalem Committee, people of standing, integrity and independent judgment, came and saw and approved.
Jews care intensely about Jerusalem. The Christians have Rome and Canterbury and even Salt Lake City; Muslims have Mecca and Medina. Jerusalem has great meaning for them also. But the Jews have only Jerusalem and only the Jews have made it their capital. That is why it has so much deeper a meaning for them than for anybody else.
When the city was reunited ten years ago, all Jews, not only the religious but also the secular, felt the ancient prophecy fulfilled. Jerusalem was our capital even when we were not here - for 2,000 years. Nobody else ever made it their capital: on the two occasions the Arabs could have made Jerusalem their capital, they did not. In the Middle Ages they chose Ramle, near Tel Aviv, on the way to Jerusalem, and in 1948 they chose Amman, which they preferred to Jerusalem.
We do not aspire to find solutions to all the problems of the Middle East in Jerusalem. This is a complicated city with conflicting interests and it is impossible to satisfy all the wishes of everybody.
Sometimes people outside the Middle East ask: What is the relevance of what we are doing in Jerusalem in making the city viable, beautiful, peaceful, to the ultimate question of the sovereignty of the city?
We can only look at the situation realistically: If, at worst, Muslim and Jewish differences prove irreconcilable, we will have to live in tension for a long time. All the more reason to care for the city as much as we can to ensure its welfare and well-being in spite of the strains and stresses. If, at best, Jews and Arabs find accommodations that are acceptable to the aspirations of all three faiths, no one would argue that what we are doing for Jerusalem today has been irrelevant.
We want Jerusalem to remain a multi-cultural city - a mosaic of people. By trying to live together, by joining in many activities, and by equalizing opportunities and social services, we hope to reduce clashes and lower tensions. There are certainly differences of religion, language, cultural attitudes and political aspirations. But I believe that if the Arabs of Jerusalem are encouraged to feel secure, it should be possible for all to live together in reasonable neighborly relations.
The bottom line is that Jerusalem must never again be divided - with barbed wire through its center, with separate police forces and separate flags. Let it be clearly understood, however, Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. Given that axiom, we have proven that others can coexist with us. By contrast, during the 19 years of Arab rule, Jews were totally eliminated and limitations imposed on Christians.
In this undivided city our objectives are free movement of people and goods, access to the Holy Places for all, the meeting of local needs, reasonable urban planning and development, the reduction of intercommunal conflicts and the satisfaction of international interests.
It is impossible to find a solution which will be fully satisfactory to everyone, and Jerusalem is not unique in this. One cannot make all the people happy all the time. But I feel we can justly claim that under our administration more problems have been solved for more people than under any previous administration.
To enable the city government to carry out the necessary adjustments, it has been suggested that a special Jerusalem law be promulgated, delegating to the city greater autonomy and greater rights, and putting at its disposal additional financial resources, as is done in many countries with regard to their capital cities. This will help provide the elasticity needed to cope with the problems of a multi-ethnic, multi-religious city, with sometimes sudden tension.
Within an undivided city, everything is possible, all kinds of adjustments can be made, all kinds of accommodations can be considered, all kinds of autonomy can be enjoyed, all kinds of positive relationships can be developed.
In 1967, when attacked by the Jordanians, the Jews were willing to sacrifice their lives for Jerusalem. They would again. There are some Israelis who would give up the Golan, some Israelis who would give up the Sinai, and some who would give up the West Bank. But I do not think you can find any Israelis who are willing to give up Jerusalem. They cannot and will not. This beautiful golden city is the heart and the soul of the Jewish people. You cannot live without a heart and soul. If you want one simple word to symbolize all of Jewish history, that word would be Jerusalem.