Sunday, September 15, 2019

The critics who deny Jerusalem’s past and its future - by Jonathan S. Tobin

A plan for cable cars to take worshippers to the Old City is debatable, but calling it a nefarious Israeli plan to ‘Judaize’ the capital reveals the motivations of some critics.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
13 September '19..

Its critics have accused Israel of a lot of terrible things over the course of its 71 years of existence, but The New York Times has now added one more to the list that will particularly resonate with intellectuals. While Israeli policies in Jerusalem since its reunification in 1967 have often been blasted, a recently approved proposal to deal with the city’s seemingly insoluble traffic problems is being put down as “Disneyfication.”

The accusation that Jews are trashing the holy city and turning it into a theme park was the focus of a feature published this week by the Times. The cable-car scheme is fair game for criticism from architects and others who worry about the potential aesthetic damage to the ancient capital. But the subtext of the campaign against the initiative goes far deeper than whether or not it will make Jerusalem look like a Swiss ski resort or even Disneyworld. For Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman and many of the Israel-bashers he quotes in his piece, the real story is about how Israel is seeking to emphasize Jerusalem’s Jewish history.

The object of their scorn is a cable car that will start its journey at the First Station cultural complex in western Jerusalem and then travel over the Hinnom Valley to a stop at Mount Zion before landing in the City of David archeological park in eastern Jerusalem. There, visitors and worshippers will be able to tour the historic excavations at the site and walk to the Western Wall via recently excavated underground passageways that were taken by pilgrims on their way to the Second Temple 2,000 years ago. If planners have their way, this line will be the first of many that will crisscross the city in the future, delivering people to destinations that would otherwise require them to navigate jammed streets.

The project is a solution to a problem that is readily apparent to anyone who visits Jerusalem—and other ancient cities, for that matter, that were not built for modern-day concerns.

(Continue to Full Column)

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