of Our Days
by Rabbi Menachem Froman
framing a view of Jerusalem's future, we would do well to draw upon
our divine heritage. Isaiah's famed vision of Jerusalem at the End
of Days, for example, was that "instruction shall come forth
from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem
shall not take up sword against nation; they shall never again know
not bring that prophecy to fruition by turning Jerusalem into a
place worthy of her name: a city of peace? Wouldn't it be wise to
launch an offensive aimed at transforming Jerusalem into the capital
of the world? Surely this would be a way of showing our city far
greater respect and showering it with far more love.
key must be to raise Jerusalem above the arena of national power
games and squabbles over the symbols and tools of sovereignty. Wars
for control of territory are commonplace in our world. But Israel's
victories in the War of Independence and the Six-Day War have accorded
it a power and opportunity that are unique: to declare a place on
earth - the Old City of Jerusalem - ex-territorial.
tradition contains many expressions of the idea that Jerusalem is
not confined by the bounds of common territoriality. The Midrash,
for example, cites it as the place from which Jacob's Ladder connected
earth with heaven. And the Gemarah (Baba Batra 75) tells us that
Jerusalem is named after God and is the place where the commemoration
of God's name - His essence and intent - must be expressed throughout
the purpose of Zionism is to transform the sublime visions of our
heritage into reality here on earth, wouldn't its true fulfillment
be the realization of Isaiah's vision here in this temporal city?
Shouldn't our purpose be to draw to Jerusalem the most spiritual
and humanist of institutions? Isn't it only fitting that Jerusalem
be the seat of the U.N.'s cultural bodies, human rights organizations,
scholarly forums and workshops of intellectual endeavor? And finally,
isn't it only proper that Jerusalem be the place where members of
all faiths convene to renounce their breeding of prejudice, hostility
and war, and work to fashion world peace? We do Jerusalem no honor
if we insist that it be to us what Belgrade is to Yugoslavia. Jerusalem
deserves to be more: a realization of our potential to rise above
the narrow sense of nationalism.
is not a utopian vision appropriate only to the End of Days. Meetings
and discussions are already in progress among Jews, Muslims and
Christians with the aim of making Jerusalem into the capital of
peace and home of a U.N. for all religions. They are drawn together
by the hope of converting a problem on which no side can afford
to concede - following the traditional model of negotiations as
give-and-take, as in "land for peace" - into a solution
that leaves all sides feeling they have gained: a win-win outcome.
Israel this proposal will mean elevating Jerusalem from the capital
of a small country in the Levant to the capital of the world. No
less important in this idea would be Jerusalem's role as a bridge
between the Muslim world and the West to help defuse tensions that
spread well beyond the Middle East. Both the United States and Europe
can make meaningful contributions in this sphere. The Pope has repeatedly
expressed his desire to have the start of the new millennium mark
the end of the historical conflict between Christianity, Judaism
and Islam, and other Christian denominations will be able to endorse
the plan on similar grounds.
is why contacts about making Jerusalem into the capital of peace
have reached and will go on reaching the highest echelons in Jerusalem,
Gaza, Washington, Brussels, Rome and elsewhere. We must work to
ensure that Jerusalem's future is built in the spirit of "yeru-shalom,"
a legacy of peace.
Froman is the rabbi of the settlement of Tekoa. This article was
edited with the help of David Elharar. April 12, 2001
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