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A letter to Elie Wiesel from Sheikh Jarrah activists

A letter to Elie Wiesel from Sheikh Jarrah activists

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Published by Yuval Drier Shilo
A letter sent to author Elie Wiesel by a group of Israeli peace activists, in response to his public letter to president Obama clamming Jerusalem to be "above politics".
A letter sent to author Elie Wiesel by a group of Israeli peace activists, in response to his public letter to president Obama clamming Jerusalem to be "above politics".

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Published by: Yuval Drier Shilo on Apr 22, 2010
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05/12/2010

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From Jerusalem, an open letter to Elie Wiesel
Dear Mr. Wiesel,We write to you from Jerusalem to convey our frustration, even outrage, at your recently published letter on Jerusalem. We are Jewish Jerusalemites – residents by choice of a battered city, a city used and abused, ransacked time and again first by foreignconquerors and now by its own politicians. We cannot recognize our city in thesentimental abstraction you call by its name.Our Jerusalem is concrete, its hills covered with limestone houses and pine trees; itsstreets lined with synagogues, mosques and churches. Your Jerusalem is an ideal, anobject of prayers and a bearer of the collective memory of a people whose membersactually bear many individual memories. Our Jerusalem is populated with people, youngand old, women and men, who wish their city to be a symbol of dignity - not of hubris,inequality and discrimination. You speak of the celestial Jerusalem; we live in the earthlyone.For more than a generation now the earthly city we call home has been crumbling under the weight of its own idealization. Your letter troubles us, not simply because it is repletewith factual errors and false representations, but because it upholds an attachment tosome other-worldly city which purports to supersede the interests of those who live in thethis-worldly one. For every Jew, you say, a visit to Jerusalem is a homecoming, yet it isour commitment that makes your homecoming possible. We prefer the hardship of realizing citizenship in this city to the convenience of merely yearning for it.Indeed, your claim that Jerusalem is above politics is doubly outrageous. First, becausecontemporary Jerusalem was created by a political decision and politics alone keeps itformally unified. The tortuous municipal boundaries of today’s Jerusalem were drawn byIsraeli generals and politicians shortly after the 1967 war. Feigning to unify an ancientcity, they created an unwieldy behemoth, encircling dozens of Palestinian villages which
 
were never part of Jerusalem. Stretching from the outskirts of Ramallah in the north tothe edge of Bethlehem in the south, the Jerusalem the Israeli government foolishlyconcocted is larger than Paris. Its historical core, the nexus of memories and religioussignificance often called “the Holy Basin”, comprises a mere one percent of its area. Nowthey call this artificial fabrication ‘Jerusalem’ in order to obviate any approaching chancefor peace.Second, your attempt to keep Jerusalem above politics means divesting us of a future. For  being above politics is being devoid of the power to shape the reality of one’s life. Astrue Jerusalemites, we cannot stand by and watch our beloved city, parts of which areutterly neglected, being used as a springboard for crafty politicians and sentimental populists who claim Jerusalem is above politics and negotiation. All the while, theyfranticly “Judaize” Eastern Jerusalem in order to transform its geopolitics beyondrecognition.We invite you to our city to view with your own eyes the catastrophic effects of thefrenzy of construction. You will witness that, contrary to some media reports, Arabs are
not 
allowed to build their homes anywhere in Jerusalem. You discover see the grossinequality in allocation of municipal resources and services between east and west. Wewill take you to Sheikh Jarrah, where Palestinian families are being evicted from their homes to make room for a new Jewish neighborhood, and to Silwan, where dozens of houses face demolition because of the Jerusalem Municipality’s refusal to issue building permits to Palestinians.We, the people of Jerusalem, can no longer be sacrificed for the fantasies of those wholove our city from afar. This-worldly Jerusalem must be shared by the people of the twonations residing in it. Only a shared city will live up to the prophet’s vision: “Zion shall be redeemed with justice”. As we chant weekly in our vigils in Sheikh Jarrah: “Nothingcan be holy in an occupied city!”Respectfully,Just Jerusalem (Sheikh Jarrah) Activists
 
1.
 
Ada Bilu2.
 
Alon Harel3.
 
Amiel Vardi4.
 
Amit Lavi5.
 
Amit Miller 6.
 
Amos Goldberg7.
 
Ariela Brin8.
 
Assaf Sharon9.
 
Avichay Sharon10.
 
Avishai Margalit11.
 
Avital Abudi12.
 
Avital Sharon13.
 
Avner Inbar 14.
 
Avrum Burg15.
 
Barbara Spectre16.
 
Bernard Avishai17.
 
Daniella Gordon18.
 
Dani Schrire19.
 
Daniel Argo20.
 
Danny Felsteiner 21.
 
Daphna Stroumsa22.
 
David Shulman23.
 
Diana Steigler 24.
 
Dolev Rahat25.
 
Dorit Gat26.
 
Dorit Argo27.
 
Edna Ulman-Margalit28.
 
Eitan Buchvall29.
 
Eli Sharon30.
 
Freddie Rokem31.
 
Galit Hasan-Rokem

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