There is so little understanding of what happens in Israel \ Palestine by foreign media. As an Israeli, I just wanted...
“Religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden.” ~Durkheim
I kept wondering about the holiness of Jerusalem… this is an interesting topic for me on account of 5.5 years of learning urban geography. From what I understand, the Jewish clan was a construct of the desert with Moses’s gig on the mountain, while the construct of the State of Israel was an urban success story when David (aka King David) copied the Philistine mode of governance (he knew them well, as he was an army general for them) and launched the nation of Israel into the era of urbanism. With Jerusalem as the capital of his new Kingdom he started expanding its borders and building the First Temple. The Temple was an interesting place and what supposed to house the place in which the actual name of god resided.
Fast forward 2000 odd years: the Temple is gone and burned over (twice) and the faintest of memories remain of it… Jerusalem is the holiest of places for Jews, but could not be less Israeli (meaning, to me: a place that helps define the national \ religious narrative of creating a geographic narrative to bind the Jewish clan). Israel was woven into existence by a dream, a desire, and a lust: take me home to Jerusalem, to Zion. Once in this home, first as residents in the letter’s realm (Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Ottoman or British) the modern movement of Zionism took about some rather un-mystical modes of operation to carve out a nation: socialist economic planning, para-military organizations, ethnic cleansing, chit chatting with fascist regimes in pre WWII Europe, etc.
Jerusalem was the first to fall – the Jewish Quarter in the Old City was taken over. The war of Independence was won and the city fell… the idea died but a nation was born. A schism still exists between the concept of the people of the book, being pure, cultured and moral and the reality of it all. The aspirations of the nation are to be just and strong while we only remain strong and just at times.
It is said that there is a Jerusalem of above and below… above is the divine, below is the mortal realm. While god may indeed we wafting above the polluted skies of Jerusalem the people below certainly don’t seem to notice his \ her presence. Beneath, god’s children, irrespective of creed, are busy doing business, eating, shopping, haggling, shouting, pushing, complaining, smiling, hating, listening, not listening, learning, loving and forgetting.
Walking the streets of the Old City on Friday I kept thinking: the walls, the streets, the temple, churches, shops, signs, all these are by definition constructs clouding our minds. All these cities and ideas, money and bullets, food and clothes, streets and houses, all these things are blinding us. Blinding us from humanity, from simplicity. This cacophonic sensory overload makes one another blind to each other through imagined differences. A reduction in the human attention span through TV, mega cities and marketing overload leads to a death of empathy. The noise of the street which trickles at first and then drowns the mind leads to a death of empathy.
A friend once told me that the essence of the entire bible’s message is: do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you. It certainly is a good tagline; however Nike’s is much catchier. Modernity 1, humanity 0.