Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"We are here to oppose evil, hatred, and violence"

As I wrote earlier this summer, Jerusalem was consumed by hatred from all sides - first because of the kidnapping and murder of three young Jewish students by Hamas terrorists, and then because of the brutal murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir by three Israeli Jews. The war between Israel and Hamas that then broke out further poisoned the atmosphere. When I left Jerusalem on July 17, 2014, it was a relief to leave a city that felt like it was possessed by an evil miasma.

When I returned to Jerusalem last Wednesday, September 17, the atmosphere (at least in West Jerusalem) felt much lighter. The war is over, there are no air raid sirens, no one is running to a shelter or to the stairwell to shelter from missiles, and now people in the western part of the city are busy getting ready for Rosh Hashanah. Earlier today I went with a friend to the Mahaneh Yehudah market and bought fruits and vegetables for the holiday - along with hordes of other people.

I also noticed new big posters plastered everywhere, with the headline "We are Here." It turns out this is a new art campaign by the Jerusalem Season of Culture, in response to the violence and hatred of the summer.

This is the text accompanying the images:
We, the sons and daughters of this land, are opening our doors, walking out into the streets and taking up positions in town plazas to declare: We are here. 
We are here to oppose evil, hatred and violence. We are here to turn the light on. 
We are here to turn walls into bridges. To replace destruction with creativity. To repair what is broken. We are here, armed with a love of humanity and tolerance to fight for the home we love so much. 
We are here because we believe in the good that is in God, in humanity and in the earth. 
We are here because the message will emanate from us to the surrounding hills, throughout this land, and far beyond. 
We are here because we have been silent for too long, and will now shout out the voice of hope.  
We are here.
This of course does not mean that the occupation has ended, or that Arab Jerusalemites do not continue to suffer from discriminatory policies of all kinds, or that all violence has ended in Jerusalem - for one thing, violent protests have continued in east Jerusalem, followed by many arrests.

But it is a step towards sanity.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. I've been feeling short on hope lately, and this offers me a glimmer.

    L'shanah tovah to you and yours.

  2. Thank you - Shanah Tovah u-metukah!

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