Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Understatement of the Year

THE TEMPLE MOUNT, originally uploaded by Yaniv Ben Simon.

"If an agreement is reached, then in religious and national terms, the two sides will have agreed to the idea of more than one truth existing in Jerusalem — that there’s more than one way up God’s mountain," Mr. Gorenberg told Ms. Sontag nearly ten years ago. "But," he added, "that’s a big if."

So ends a Robert Mackey post at the Lede: "Can an Undivided Jerusalem Be Shared?"

My own sense of Jerusalem is that Jerusalem is best shared undivided.  Jerusalem taught me that cities are the best teachers of the practical art of sharing space, of coexistence.  Someone once asked me what bearing  Jerusalem's urban form played in the conflict.  This was my reply:

...You’re asking me, who experienced this urban realm for three years. To be perfectly honest, the urban realm of Jerusalem’s Old City is an altar to coexistence. No artifact of man seems more suited to this sacred purpose. Jerusalem is a peace machine. She took away my hatreds. She would make me hang my grudge at the gate when I walked in, and how easily I forgot to take it back on the way out! The walls of Jerusalem are harmony screens that weather with remarkable resilience against external and geopolitical rivals to coexistence. The folks that wield power outside have discriminating agendas, but Jerusalem’s streets are shared indiscriminately by all. Her private and religious spaces are, ...well, particular to folks who share meals together, but surprisingly not overmuch. Yes, if you have blood on your hands, don’t pass through your neighbor’s gate (the blood here cries louder from the earth than in other places). But her public realm always welcomes you. No city I've experienced is a better peace-maker. Among the spice tables and racks of prayer beads, between the furry caps and kufiyehs, Jerusalem taunts your hatreds. She thinks little of toleration. “See,” she says to you, “you can’t tolerate better than you are tolerating me right now...Isn’t that remarkably easy?” She wonders how you multiply one love without another. If we do not notice her loves, it’s hardly her fault. She herself is fierce with her love for muezzin calls, she gathers trails of colorfully capped pilgrims into the wings of clucking churches, her soul elevates in the soothing murmur before the Western Wall. No she is not good with the thoughts of humans. But I had to live with her. Before I met her, her loves I made my hatreds, and then I sent prayers of deliverance on her behalf. She taught me to cancel one with each.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Very nicely written. I've never been to Jerusalem, but I can only imagine that if multiple cultures can make it there they can make it anywhere.