Avraham Burg, 7 March 2010
Avraham Burg is a former chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel and a former speaker of the Knesset
Greater, unified Jerusalem is being torn apart. The Israeli – Jewish and Arab – capital is becoming the capital of the hallucinatory, dangerous fanatics. This is not the city of all its residents nor the capital of all its citizens. It is a sad city that belongs to its settlers, its ultra-Orthodox, its violent residents and its messiahs.
The prophet asked, “How is the faithful city become a harlot! She that was full of justice, righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers” (Isaiah 1: 21). We haven’t had murders here yet, but the nation’s soul is dying here every day before our very eyes. The Israeli spirit of justice is being run roughshod by politicians, settlers and judges. The national soul is being slain with red tape and bureaucratic indifference.
Yes, the capital of the Jewish people – the people that always swore not to do to others what it would not have done to it – has become a harlot. Morally wanton, emotionally sealed-off. It is manipulated by its shepherds for their benefit and is full of law – everyone is suing everyone else, hiding behind the laws of injustice. And the judges – as though forced – issue rulings in accordance with discriminatory laws, unique to the “chosen people.” Once justice dwelled here. Now the settlers do, murderers of the nation’s soul.
And no one utters a word, but for a few patriots. People of truth and morals who refuse to stand idly by while the state of Jewish refugees repeatedly throws Palestinian families into the street and hands their miserable homes over to bearded, blaspheming thugs.
These people of integrity are the leftists of Jerusalem, who have been through countless clashes with the “Jerusalem syndrome” loonies. They know only too well the city’s ugly truth, its terrible teens, and will no longer look the other way. They are committed to stopping with their body the torch-bearing brutes who seek to set it on fire.
No one leads the city now, nor will salvation for it come from the country’s elected leader. Sheikh Jarrah is beyond the cognizance of Mayor Nir Barkat and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as though the commotion has nothing to do with them, as though it is happening in Sudan or Tehran. And in the absence of leadership of the state, and the peace bloc, our children have taken on the responsibility, shaken off indifference and despair and brought us here. The circle is expanding and it is full of life, rage and hope. Israeli humanism has been reborn in East Jerusalem. We are there in the summer heat and the winter rains, shouting and calling on others to gather round, seeking both Shabbat and peace. We will not recoil from violent police officers or hotheaded harassers. We stand and pledge: We shall not be silent when Ahmad and Aysha are sleeping in the street outside their home, which has become the settlers’ domain. Is that justice? Not ours! Is that law? No, it is iniquity.
Jerusalem is emptying out faster than any city in the world. At first its wealthy residents left, then its moderates abandoned ship, followed by the secular and the young adults. Very soon there will be no one left to leave and the city will be completely alone. The sources of light are being extinguished, occluded by rays of darkness.
How long, Mr. Prime Minister and Mr. Mayor? And why do you, judges of Israel, cooperate with the evil that threatens to destroy us? Come with us, return to the Judaism of “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not murder.” Leave Sheikh Jarrah now!