Today is “Jerusalem Day”, which is celebrated every year on the Hebrew date of Eyar 28, remembering the “reunification” of Jerusalem during the 1967 war. For me, it is always a day of ambivalence. If I look on the dark side, I remember that each Jerusalem Day marks another year of occupation and division, tensions and conflicts.
But Jerusalem is not only about “dark sides”. Today I wish to remember the bright side of the City of Jerusalem and everything about it that I love and that makes me proud to call it my home. Jerusalem is truly a city of the world. Every child who grows up here knows that their city is a sparkling and diverse place, filled with people from every possible walk of life: rich and poor, tall and small, Arab, Christian, Jewish, religious or secular. You can cross between cultures and seemingly across the centuries in a matter of minutes: in the old city, from the Western Wall full with Jews praying together, a five-minute walk takes you to the Via Dolorosa, the path Jesus walked to his crucifixion. Another five minutes takes you to the Al-Aksa mosque, from which Mohammed is said to have ascended to heaven, and yet another five minutes’ walk can bring you to a modern and secular shopping area or fantastic new restaurant. Truly we are lucky to experience such a place and I feel especially grateful to call it home.
Growing up here has shaped my view of the world and my understanding of my place in it: as a responsible citizen of this great City, I know that it is my responsibility to work toward peace and justice. Jerusalem may be the core of the conflict but it is also the key for the solution. Its very existence for the past 5,000 years serves as a reminder that tolerance and peace are eternal values which can and should be the key to the solution.