Eretz Yisrael Time

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Sunday, July 19, 2009
One of JoeSettler’s more prolific readers made the astounding statement that Jerusalem isn’t a “modern” city. The arguments she put forward were primarily that Jerusalem closes down for Shabbat and that Jerusalem can be divided.

I’m hard pressed to understand those two reasons.

To begin with, Israel is the Jewish State, and Jerusalem in particular is a Jewish City.

Personally I see no irresolvable conflict between “modernity” and Judaism.

I personally cannot accept the argument that since modernity can demand that the less economically well-off be required by their employers to work 7 days a week – and no consideration should be given to the culturally accepted day of rest - that that is a step forward - because its not.

One of Judaism’s greatest gifts to humanity was the ending of what was effectively slavery of the working class, and the creation of a weekly communal day of contemplation and rest – something all society benefits from.

My definition of modernity cannot include the forced labor of the weaker economic classes.

Second, the attempts to divide Jerusalem are political. Physically, one could divide Manhattan to an East and West side or above 150th street and below it. And let’s take Berlin, another city divided.

So that argument holds no water either.

On the other hand, Jerusalem has free Wifi hotspots throughout its public areas, as well as in its cafes and coffeehouses (and other public venues).

Jerusalem has 4 cellular firms servicing it, and I am hard-pressed to find any blackout areas (except in certain departments of Jerusalem's world class hospitals). I know from experience that’s not true in a modern city like New York.

For that matter, Jerusalem has high speed cellular internet access pretty much anywhere in the city.

The majority of (if not most) homes in Jerusalem have hi-speed internet access.

Jerusalem has Intel and Teva and plenty of other leading global hi-tech firms with major offices and factories in Jerusalem – here because of Jerusalem’s highly-educated work force.

I will admit that Jerusalem’s public transportation system used to be better, but once the light-rail is completed, things should improve.

Jerusalem is multi-cultural. And while it is far from the richest city in Israel, poor does not mean not modern.

And while we don’t have much of a theater district, we do have a museum row.

The Israel, Rockefeller and Bible Lands Museum are archeological museums that are beyond compare when it comes to their archeological showcases and research of the Holy Land, regional and Jewish history.

There are more bookstores per square mile in Jerusalem than perhaps anywhere else in the world.

Unless reading books isn’t considered that modern.

The Hebrew University is a world- class university, where much research that measurably improves the lives of people around the world (including in the US) is done.

And Machon Lev – that is the embodiment of technology meeting Judaism meeting modernity.

Jerusalem will soon even have electric filling stations for our upcoming electric cars.

Jerusalem’s traffic is monitored in real time by live camera feeds all over the city.

Jerusalem has an international airport (that was unfortunately shut down due to terrorism).

And due to its unique geography and legacy infrastructures, Jerusalem has developed modern solutions to difficult problems – not faced by newer and less complex cities.

So sorry, but your argument that Jerusalem isn’t a modern city because basically it’s also a Jewish city just doesn’t hold water.

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Anonymous said...


In Paris, the American Bookstore just closed. It couldn't afford the rent increases.

As to Israeli governments being unsuccessful in getting the American goverment to break ground for an embassy; after so many presidential campaigns, here, were full of promises to Jerusalem. What can I tell ya? Facts are stubborn. They won't disappear from the table.

And, yes. To many Israelis who are not all that religious, seeing Jerusalem as the United City of the Jewish people has been a very big deal.

What went wrong?

You just can't shirk the responsibility when your city is held hostage by a few. And, in Jerusalem, what stymies the municipality, just happens to be the Haredi. Who have created a world, apart. And, they riot.

Yes, I notice no one joins them. They're just a cult gone wild. Where a few rabbis, who work with their brainwashed believers, set the group out to do harms.

When it was Jim Jones? He got his goupies to swallow Koolaid. When it was David Koresh? He got his group to cluster round and take on the US government.

That I think the Haredi should be called on their poisonous behaviors? You bet! There's no need to create, within any city, a cohort of rabbis who can "shake you down." Where, if you opened a business, it wouldn't be considered kosher, without a certificate you need to pay for. And, that does not go into the city's coffers.

Heck, when the pope thought he could keep the tradedy of his pedophile priests under wraps; the exposure of the problem is still hurting the church! People have walked away. You can't sell nonsense; and worse: Abuse. And, then claim it's "da lordy's work." It isn't.

Sure, like every other Israeli city, Jerusalem gets its share of clowns in the knesset.

But the problem cannot be fixed by thinking the Haredi have every right to their insular insanities. And, nobody will even notice they send their youngest children out to the tour buses, to rake in donations. People who do this are freaks.

As to Judaism, itself, our men learned how to go out and earn livings. (Even though Europe had been so hostile! And, this created working class moms, who brought home real money. By cooking for others. But cleaning houses. And, sometimes, also being very shrewd at business.)

If you were in Brooklyn, you'd know there were Haredi. They mind their own business. But the one thing they don't do is push their rabbinical "philosophies" onto the heads of other Orthodox Jews who live all across the United States.

Anonymous said...

FROM CAROL HERMAN (Let me continue)

You know, you can compare cities. Haifa and Tel Aviv have municipalities just like Jerusalem. But they don't get the "Haredi problem." Cities are vibrant when, if you wanted, you could open a hot dog stand. Without having to buy off the rabbis for a kashruth certificate. In other words? It would be a choice. Not a bank holdup.

I don't confuse being Jewish with thinking the Haredi are anything else BUT a cult of personality; run by warring rabbis.

How come the Haredi in Jerusalem can send their small children out to beg at every tour bus?

How come many people know the story of how Haredi stop traffic on Friday afternoons. And, block roadways until Saturday night. Public permission was granted to them. And, this is not a good thing.

Is it possible you don't see any of this? In America, where there are plenty of Orthodox Jews, the Haredi are still a cult that stands alone. Worse. The men aren't trained to look for work. (Which is why Palestinians drive bulldozers in the city).

You just can't fool me. It saddens me greatly that a man like Olmert was able to do so much mischief; while he pocketed profits and climbed up, politically.

I doubt Arik Sharon respected Olmert. Instead? He feared Bibi. And, wanted to block him. And, he also didn't want to give Seat #2 to Shimon Peres.

You know, ahead, there could be a comeuppance? The pope didn't see the issue with pedophile priests blowing off the doors of the Vatican. But people, with insight, no longer support that faith ... as they did for centuries. People in the modern world have moved on.

Is Jerusalem at risk? Well, Obama wants to give the Saud's a "gift." Dubya tried. And, burned up the Bush legacy.

Now? We're all waiting to see what happens with Obama. Seems, even among some democraps, the bloom slid off the rose.

Tech said...

I don't think Israel is taking too kindly to Obama telling them they can't build on their own land.

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