I have said it many times and written it even more, and sadly, my prediction is coming true. A deadly volcano is about to erupt and cause tremendous damage and the name of that volcano is called “Jerusalem”. Yes, THAT Jerusalem. The city we all love. The center of the universe and the place towards which we face three times a day in our prayers. The heart and soul of the Jewish people is about to explode and only now, some (but not all) of our leaders are starting to wake up.
I realized we had a problem back in 2010 when a good friend asked for my help. This friend lives in Rockville, Maryland but has a beautiful apartment in Rehavia. He insisted on becoming an Israeli citizen upon his retirement and is very proud of showing people his “Teudat Zehut” (Israeli identity card) and his Israeli driver’s license. He needed my assistance in helping him renew his driver’s license so we went to the Jerusalem Motor Vehicles Department located in Talpiot. When I stepped inside that office, I immediately thought of the famous line: “Houston, we have a problem” – with one major change; “Jerusalem, we have a problem”. Every single person waiting on line plus every single worker in that office were Arabs. Believe me when I tell you – and this is no exaggeration- my friend Shlomo and I were the only Jews among 100 plus people… in the heart of Talpiot, Jerusalem. While nothing happened to us that day and we took care of his license, I realized that this is similar to living near a volcano. 99% of the time things are fine and beautiful but when that 1% hits and the volcano bubbles over… watch out!
In reality, the problem has existed a lot longer than my discovery in 2010. For the last 30 years, it has been almost impossible to walk freely as a Jew in 40% of our holy city. While it’s fine to stroll around Har Nof and Bayit Ve’Gan, it has been unheard of to walk in the footsteps of King David and Shmuel Ha’Navi in places like Ir David and much of the Old City since the mid 80’s. How did we let that happen to our most prized possession? Where were our leaders when this was going on?
The answer is simple. The leaders were ignoring the problem and hoping it would simply “go away” – like some annoying mosquito. How blind were these leaders and how foolish as well! The Arabs of Jerusalem are not “going away” – they are here to stay. They are building homes, raising large families and educating them in hatred of the Jewish State. So what can be done?
Rule #1 to solving any problem is to first acknowledge that a problem exists. Unfortunately, this has still not been done by the existing Israeli leadership. “There is no intifada in Jerusalem”, they say. Even the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, does not seem fazed by the growing Arab population in his city nor of the violence that has been escalating these past few months. With him, it is life as usual including his ridiculous Formula-1 car race through the city on Erev Succot! (You had to be there to see how crazy and stupid this thing was – at the busiest time of year. No words can describe the nonsense that went on just so that fancy Italian cars can zip through the city and dance around Mamilla. It was totally nuts)
Rule #2 is that as soon as you acknowledge the problem, you immediately proceed to solving it. For this, you need a strong hand and a mighty stick. Any and all violence must stop and the perpetrators punished to the full extent of the law. The Israeli police plus army must be deployed throughout the city and respond with force against anyone throwing a rock or threatening an innocent person. It is inconceivable that one takes his/her life into their hands when visiting the Har Ha’Zaytim (The Mount of Olives) cemetery. It is totally unacceptable that, while walking home – or back to your hotel – from the Kotel, you have to avoid 70% of the Old City out of fear. It is unimaginable that it is very dangerous to visit the Shiloah springs – where the Kohanim drew water for the Bet Ha’Mikdash. What better place to visit than THAT during Succot? This is actually where the “Simchat Bet Ha’Shoevah” started… just a short walk from the Kotel… and Jews walking there put their lives at risk??? How evil is our leadership to allow this to happen? This must stop IMMEDIATELY!!
There’s an expression in English that says that “there’s a new sheriff in town”. Simply put it means that it is out with the old and in with the new! This is what needs to be done right now in our precious city of Jerusalem. A new “sheriff” needs to come to town where he will announce – through actions, not words – that violence and threats will no longer be tolerated. Every tool and weapon will be used to stop the violence and restore peace and tranquility to the city. The police and army enforcers will no longer use methods that are “politically correct” (oh, how I HATE that term!!) and Jews will be able to walk freely in all parts of the city 24 hours a day.
While all of this is nice and definitely possible to achieve, it still does not solve the problem stated at the beginning of this article; the massive numbers of Arabs living in Jerusalem. For that, there are two options and the first one is connected to restoring law and order. The Arab of today is very bold because he has not seen the mighty hand of the Jew since 1967. As soon as he sees what will happen if he steps out of line, things will calm down and he might seek his future elsewhere.
The second thing to do is to build, build and build some more for Jews all over Jerusalem. Once things are safe – as they should be – Jews can and WILL move all across the city and not just congest themselves in Katimon or Geula. There should be Jewish life on every street in Jerusalem – including the eastern part of the city… and not just in a few homes that some brave Jews buy today. What those Jews do is incredible but we need to multiply that by 10,000… at LEAST!! Unlike what people say, there is actually plenty of room to build in Jerusalem, just not in Sha’arei Chesed, Nachlaot and Emek Refaim! There’s an additional side to this amazing city and when that new sheriff lays down the law, Jewish construction and life will fill every corner. May this happen very soon so that we can all say – with happiness and a true desire – Next Year in Jerusalem!