Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths, Total Madness (Jerusalem Day Edition)

I know it’s a little morbid, and possibly a little mean-spirited, but this being “Jerusalem Day,” I couldn’t resist juxtaposing the opening passage of a touristy photo album of Jerusalem I own with some You Tube videos of Jerusalem today.

The Holy Land has always exerted a fascination for people from almost every part of the world. It is, of course, a land like any other, but made holy by its association with three of the world’s great religions, those of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. …

The jewel of the Holy Land is, of course, Jerusalem. It is doubtful if any other place on earth can have been more revered, reviled, destroyed, rebuilt and built over than Jerusalem, but despite this, its magic still comes through to captivate new generations.

“Its magic.” I first read that passage at age 9, and used it as the opening of the sunny, well-received presentation I did as the only Muslim kid in Jewish day camp at the YM-YWHA of Metro New Jersey (now the JCC of Metro West). “Jerusalem, Home of Three Faiths,” is what it was called. Everyone clapped. Then, in celebration of God’s creation and the brilliance of my presentation, we had shabboswe went downstairs, ate some challah, drank Manischewitz grape juice, and went outside to sing Don McLean’s “Waters of Babylon” by a babbling brook in a grove of weeping willow trees by Northfield Avenue. (I’m really not making any of that up.) Jimmy Carter was President. Sadat had just gone to Jerusalem. The Camp David Peace Talks were taking place. Peace seemed possible. Did I mention that I was 9, and very impressionable?

So here’s Jerusalem today–The March of the Flags on Jerusalem Day 2014, celebrating Israel’s conquest of East Jerusalem in the 1967 War. It’s in today’s news as well.

If the Nazis have the right to march through Skokie, should anti-Arab Jews have the right to march like this through Arab East Jerusalem? Sure–assuming that Arabs can do the same thing in the Jewish Quarter.

It’s worth noting, by the way, that the Nazis never did march through Skokie. The ACLU argued that the Nazis had the right to march through Skokie–and the Supreme Court agreed–but ultimately, the Nazis held their rally in the Federal Plaza in Chicago. I’m inclined to think that rallies like the Nazis-in-Skokie or anti-Arab-Israelis-in-Arab-East-Jerusalem ought to be held at places that involve a buffer between the potentially warring parties. Actually, it’s an interesting question whether a rally that will predictably induce violence–rather than explicitly incite it–ought legally to be required to take place in a location that facilitates more effective policing in anticipation of violence. The antics of the Westboro Baptist Church provide a similar (though not identical) case in point.

In any case, the Jerusalem Day video gives new meaning to the old Offspring song, “Come Out and Play (Keep ’em Separated).

It goes down the same as the thousand before
No one’s getting any smarter, no one’s learning the score
Your never ending spree of death and violence and hate
Is gonna tie your own rope, tie your own rope, tie your own…

Here’s a rally by the Islamic group Hizb ut Tahrir in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound. The compound is just a few hundred yards (if that) from Damascus Gate, depicted in the previous video.

You have to wonder whether Hizb ut Tahrir really wants to drag the Pakistani military into this. I guess they’ve forgotten that during Black September in 1970, the Pakistanis sided with King Hussein against the PLO,  drove them out of Amman by brute force, and killed thousands of Palestinians in the process (ironically, that’s the video that queues up immediately after this one on You Tube). They also seem to have forgotten that so far, the Pakistani military has started every war that it’s fought, and lost every war that it’s started–including a genocide of its “Muslim brothers” in Bangladesh. I’m assuming that if Hizb ut Tahrir really thinks that the Pakistani military is killing “its brothers” in its fight against the Pakistani Taliban, they’re suggesting by implication that they regard the Taliban as the rightful rulers of Pakistan. Which I guess makes the rest of Pakistan almost literally chopped liver.

I’ve saved the best for Christianity. I was going to insert a video of a speech by Glenn Beck from 2011, but I decided on this gem instead. Incidentally, this video ends at 3:22, not at 5:39, so persevere for three minutes and watch it until the end. The long blank spot that follows the presentation is merely symbolic.

Well, that clarified everything. “For those who are led by the Spirit are the children of God” (Romans 8:14). I guess St. Paul wasn’t kidding about “children.”

What was it Don McLean sang? “We lay down and wept”?

Happy Jerusalem Day!

Postscript, May 18, 2015: Here’s the New York Times’s coverage of Jerusalem Day. You’ll have to read it to the end to understand this mordant passage:

The noise of the marchers thickened, along with the sound of stun grenades outside.

As dinner ended, the younger children raced to the balcony to see what was going on. “Come back!” the women shouted, to no avail.

Sighing, Umm Nidal, in a long head scarf and skirt, joined them. They were the only Palestinians leaning out to watch the marchers; nearby, soldiers stood on a roof.

Seeing the teenager’s rude gesture, the 3-year-old twins Razan and Raghad thought it was a friendly gesture and waved back. “Bye-bye!” they called.

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