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Is There Hope for The City of Peace?

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem under Jewish rule. Jerusalem in Hebrew (ir hashalem) means City of Peace. Unfortunately, that is not a descriptive phrase but a prophetic one: When Jerusalem is at peace, then we know the world is at peace.

Unfortunately, Jerusalem has seldom been a city of peace.

Putting aside ancient or medieval history, let us not forget that when Jordon conquered the Jewish Quarter in 1948, Jewish sites were desecrated and Jews barred. Compare that to Israeli rule, in which each religion is granted authority over its own holy sites, even to the extent that Israel allowed Muslim authorities to destroy priceless archaeological sites in their renovations on the Temple Mount. Tensions are high, but not just between Muslims and Jews. Whenever the West Bank has come under the Palestinian Authority, Christian Arabs on the West Bank have been killed and churches attacked leading to a mass exodus of Christian Arabs from PA areas. It seems to me that only Israel can be trusted to protect the rights of all religious traditions in Israel. The Muslims certainly cannot. Rising anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in Europe makes calls for internationalizing Jerusalem suspect as well.


All Israel needs to fulfill its goal of seeing a Jerusalem unified and at peace, is a commitment to peaceful cooperation from its neighbors.

There is also the issue of Jewish unity. Former Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek understood the prophetic vision of a Jerusalem as a Jewish capital that could still be united in the appreciation of its religiously diverse cultural heritage. Current Mayor Uri Lupolianskidoes not, as was evidenced by his refusal to meet with Conservative Rabbis during the Rabbinical Assembly Convention in Jerusalem several years ago. His policies have contributed to the flight of the non-Orthodox from the city, which is another challenge facing today’s Jerusalem.


Jerusalem could be at peace, if the will were there. After all the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, and the Holy Sepulcher are all located in such a way that adherents could worship freely sided by side in peace. Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak even offered former Palestinian Authority President Yassir Arafat control over the Temple Mount, called the Haram-esh-Sharif in Arabic, as well as sovereignty over much of the Arab parts of East Jerusalem and most of the West Bank. Arafat not only refused, but started the Second Intafada. If Arafat were not bad enough, now we have Hamas to contend with.

So why do we continue to yearn for the peace and unity of Jerusalem? Because for 3,000 years, Jerusalem has been our eternal capital and the locus of our prayers for acceptance of our national identity as a Jewish People. Because we Jews always hold onto hope–hope that things can get better, hope that the day will come when Jerusalem will be unified and at peace. And when we hold onto hope, we are inspired to work to help heal the world rather than destroy it.

–Posted by Rabbi Susan Grossman

Read the Full Debate: Myth vs. Reality in Today’s Jerusalem

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posted June 6, 2007 at 1:21 am

I want to travel in Israel some day–including Jerusalem. I want to explore the culture, both religious and secular. But sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get there because I will only travel in the Holy Land when there is peace there. That goal gives me hope. Especially when there is serious fighting going on there. To heck with the fact that I’m neither a Jew, Christian or Muslim.

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Grethel Jane Rickman

posted June 6, 2007 at 1:32 pm

Poverty is main obstacle to world peace. The weight of the burden is on multinational corporations because they take advantage of impoverished countries and have greatly misused our environmental resources. Economic inequality hinders world peace. When profits cease to be the important attainment and focus for political, military, and economic elites; peace may come. When human lives and the environment are treasured, peace may come.

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Marian Neudel

posted June 8, 2007 at 11:39 am

Sometimes I think the only solution to the problem of Jerusalem is to let the Dalai Lama run it.

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posted June 8, 2007 at 10:25 pm

I dont get it !!!!! is there a God for you guys !!!??? if is there a God, what He wants us ????
Can somebody explain to me ??!!!! WHAT GOD WANT FROM US ??? can somebody speek with Him ???

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Raymond Gork

posted July 5, 2007 at 9:24 pm

I have read a number of comments regarding “What do we make of Gaza?”. Some comments make some sense, and others appall me. Spouting half-truths (at best) and downright lies (Since when was Israel complicit in mass-murder?)is not going to solve anything. A good starting-point is to stop the finger-pointing and start talking. We also need to quit second-guessing what “god” wants of us or whether “god” gave any of us – Jews and Muslims – any “rights” to any land. This guy “god” must be getting pretty tired of the the way we use “him/her” to justify suicide-murders or settlements. The way I see it, “god”‘s purpose for humankind is for us to serve as stewards of the world that he/she created. That means coming together and seeking means of protecting our world – and ourselves – from those who would defile it, either by pollution or by acts of war.
Referring to Gaza, specifically: Maybe we have the roots of a solution here. Sure, Hamas claims to want to destroy Israel – with or without Iran’s help. But look closer; whether we like it or not, Hamas has succeeded in establishing a modicum of law and order in Gaza; it certainly ain’t Canada, but at least Gazans can more or less go about their lives in some semblance of (fragile) peace. If the Israelis were smart, they would quietly start talking to Hamas along the lines that so long as they maintain law and order, convince various splinter factions to quit lobbing rockets into Israel and other adventures, then maybe they might just start to do business with each other. Whether or not Hamas is the enemy, ordinary Palestinians are not. All they want is to be left in peace – just like the Israelis – and to get on with their lives in peace – just like the Israelis. No amount of finger-pointing is going to bring peace. Just good old-fashioned capitalist business. Oh, and one more thing. Let’s leave “god/allah” out of this, for once. That Entity is not taking any sides – He/She only wants us to look after his/her real estate. So far we’re not doing a good job.

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