Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Walking through the City of David

Continued from Previous posts:
Part 1: The Priestly Blessing
Part 2: The Yemenite Village

Note: Click on the photographs below to see a larger image.

The Elad foundation, in tandem with Ateret Cohanim, has not only been reclaiming and excavating the city of David at breakneck speed, they have also been hard at work publicizing their work, bringing tourists into areas of Jerusalem once too dangerous for Jews to visit. Standing near the Dung Gate, Elad volunteers hand out flyers to the mass of humanity streaming out through the dung gate, leaving the old city after hearing the priestly blessing. Other volunteers offer free tours throughout the City of David and East Jerusalem, via car, foot, or even Segway.

Flyers announcing tours of the Yemenite Village. This one declaring "We have come home!"

The walk to the Yemenite Village takes us through the City of David. Elad has poured millions into the construction of the new facilities, even though absorbing a substantial financial loss. In order to prevent the re-division of Jerusalem, it is critical to bring Jews into these parts of Jerusalem to live, but on a larger scale, it is important to change the consciousness of Israelis about what this place means, and what is here. The eventual goal is that East Jerusalem is no longer thought of as a place where Jews dare not go, but as integral neighborhoods of the city.

Walking through the newly rebuilt entrance to the City of David.

Performers re-enact biblical scenes for the visiting children.

Elad has built a new road, paved and lined with Jerusalem stone, running the length of the city of David.

Another performer stands waiting for his gaggle of children. The ruins he's standing on are believed, although not yet confirmed, to be the location of the grave of King David.

With the holidays afoot, and throngs of visitors, security was tighter than usual. But these guys don't look too tense.

Despite the changing nature of the City of David, with constant construction and renovation, there is still a need for protection. Here we see a Jewish alleyway, blocked with a gate, and a guard booth at the entrance. It should be noted that the Israeli government itself is far too bureaucratic, lethargic, and post-Zionist to engage in any of this work. Renovation, excavation, and security is run through Elad and Ateret Cohanim, which are funded by private donors.

Street of Jewish Housing in the City of David.

Looking at this street, the paved Jerusalem Stone roads, the new housing, I could swear I've been here before. And then I remember... I have! It was a full seven years ago, in August of 2000, about a month before the beginning of the second intifada. I came out here on a tour with the Aish Hatorah Yeshivah, one of my first forays into East Jerualem, to see the grave of King David. At that time, the government, under then Prime Minister Ehud Barak, was preparing the nation for the re-division of Jerusalem. He had already surrendered the Temple Mount and City of David in negotiations, What I remember was a ramshackle guardpost, a dusty lot with some trailers, lots of dirt, garbage, feral cats, and weeds.

It was accepted knowledge that this place was doomed, that the Jews would be expelled from much of Jerusalem, including the City of David and the Muslim Quarter, and that the barbed wire and guard towers slicing through the heart of the city would soon return as part of a final "peace". Of course, then the outraged Arabs, feeling that they had not gained enough through negotiations, began the second intifada. At that point, as bombs went off weekly, and sometimes daily, talk of a final peace were dead in the water, and nobody came even to the Jewish areas in Jerusalem, let alone east Jerusalem. But the Jews of East Jerusalem held out, and while the inferno raged on, this entire promenade, central street, housing, and just about everything you seen in these pictures was built.

The Shiloach pools, at the exit to Hezekia's Tunel, now being excavated and refurbished.

A sunshade covers an area being excavated at the Shiloach Pools

Finally, we come to a promenade, overlooking Silwan and the location of the old Yemenite Village.
Yours truly and Steven, on the promenade overlooking Arab Silwan and the Yemenite Village.

Silwan. In the foreground is a guardpost on a Jewish Kollel (yeshivah for married men.)

Details outlining the location of the original Yemenite Village. Hass Promenade is labeled for reference.

And that's where we're going next. Into Silwan to find the Yemenite Village! Stay tuned...


Mark said...

I think it's sad that you are so orientalist and patronizing to Arab areas and people. You are the face of gush Emunim, that racist, land hungry, nasty face. Enjoy conflict, people like you thrive on it with their "wild west" like attitude towards the settlements.

Mark said...

First off, I stand by the accusation: You are an orientalist, your descriptions of Arab areas in derrogatory manner, and your portrayl of them as erratic and not clean and orderly western things as superior: this is orientalist colonialist bs.
I am the first person to criticize the culture of violence in Arab societies, or the lack of pluralism religious or otherwise. However, what you are is a Jewish quasi fascist, you want territory without the people who live on it, you want to expand and settle land at the expense of others.
I want peace, yes, that term that is thrown around so loosely these days. Peace requires that concessions be made: the Palestinians will have to clamp down on terrorism, and Israel will have to concede most of the west bank and Gaza and share jerusalem. These are commonly accepted facts in Washington and capitols throughout the world, it is time for you to accept reality and start acting like a grown up instead of a wild west Jewish cowboy.
Reform is necessary on both sides of the divide, and the sooner that people in Israel see your type for what they really are: settler zealotry will stop.
Shalom Ashav! Al Salaam al Aan! PEACE NOW!

Mark said...

Oh--and for the record, I don't hate Jews, that is a ludicrous accusation given that you don't know me at all. I have been lucky to count many Jewish people among my closest relationships in life-- platonic, and romantic.
Unlike you, I've no hate for anyone at all. I love one thing, peace between the Jewish people (a right to a secure Jewish state) anddddd the right of Palestinians to have a Palestinian state. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Mark said...

Oh right, I forgot, don't throw the self hating Jew label at me. I love myself quite alright!

Ephraim said...

I found your collection of slogans interesting enough to make a separate post about them.