Festival spirit of Jerusalem fails to reach Arabs


in Jerusalem

Some 3,000 years after King David sent his men up a tunnel to capture Jerusalem from the Jebusites, a festival to celebrate the conquest of the city is being strongly attacked because of a more recent takeover. Critics point out that the site chosen to inaugurate the celebration, to be called Jerusalem 3,000, is in the largely Arab village of Silwan, near houses taken over from Palestinians by an extremist Jewish settler organisation.

"The festival is in essence a celebration for the Jewish part of the city," Teddy Kollek, former mayor of Jerusalem, told the weekly Kolhair. "It is tactless and shows a lack of consideration to locate the festival in a largely Arab area. The celebrations have become a political and chauvinistic business."

There is no doubt that the organisers have a problem. The City of David, ancient Jerusalem, lies on a steeply sloping ridge outside the walls of the medieval city. Today it is home to the Palestinians of Silwan.

But the plan is to inaugurate, in about three months, the 15-month festival of cultural events on a site close to several heavily fortified houses which the Jewish settler group Elad took over in a paramilitary operation in 1991.

The idea for the festival originally came from Mr Kollek but it is being implemented by his right-wing successor, Ehud Olmert, who does not conceal that he finds it politically convenient. It runs from September 1995 through 1996, the year when negotiations between Israel and the PLO on the final status of Jerusalem are to begin. Mr Olmert says: "The timing is perfect to reaffirm Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem."

Not surprisingly, other countries are chary about getting involved in quite such a political event. The Deputy Foreign Minister, Yossi Beilin, said in March: "I regret it very much but the fact is we have run into a cool reaction from elements in Europe and the United States." He questioned the wisdom of holding the festival when talks about the city were about to start.

There was an edgy atmosphere in Silwan yesterday as Israelis celebrated Jerusalem Day, commemorating the capture of the whole city in 1967. In the Pool of Siloam, just beyond the old walls of the City of David, three Palestinian boys were bathing, overlooked by a dozen Israeli teenagers, two of whom were armed. Further up the hill, on the Temple Mount itself, Jewish fundamentalists were holding a protest because they were not allowed to pray on the site of the Second Temple.

Another sign that Jerusalem 3,000 may not promote warmer feelings between Israelis and Palestinians is a pamphlet published by the municipality in preparation for the festival. It is by Joseph Shaar; he is known in Jerusalem as an author of biblical quizzes, but his pamphlet is being denounced by one council member for being full of "false and chauvinist statements about the [Arab] residents of east Jerusalem and flattery for Mayor Ehud Olmert".

Critics of the pamphlet point in particular at Mr Shaar's account of the massacre in 1948 at Deir Yassin, a western suburb of Jerusalem, when Irgun and the Stern gang killed 254 Palestinians, mostly women and children. These killings are not mentioned in the pamphlet, which says "members of the murderous gangs who fortified themselves [in the village] were sniping at the Jewish neigh -bourhoods around them". The pamphlet is being revised but Mr Olmert supports naming a street after Yehoshua Goldschmidt, a member of the Stern gang who planned the Deir Yassin attack.

n Rabat - Israel's Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, and the PLO leader,Yasser Arafat, yesterday renewed their commitment to meeting the 1 July target date to agree on the second phase of the Palestinian autonomy plan.

After overnight talks mediated by King Hassan of Morocco the two leaders pledged in a joint statement to agree by 1 July on "the redeployment of the [Israeli] army, security arrangements, elections and the transfer of authority" in West Bank towns. They said they would seek to establish "a durable peace and to avoid that the peace process be threatened again".

Mr Arafat told reporters he understood "the security attacks by Palestinian militants" have slowed talks on advancing beyond phase one of the September 1993 peace agreement, which allowed the Palestinians autonomy in the Gaza Strip and Jericho on the West Bank. Mr Peres earlier told Israel radio that during the talks, "the atmosphere was demonstratively friendly".

There was no immediate indication whether Mr Peres gave assurances that Israel will permanently drop plans to confiscate Palestinian land in east Jerusalem.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?