I was the first to publish
and lobby the vision of Jerusalem serving as two capitals for two peoples with
each people governing and policing themselves where they dwell and without a
physical barrier between them. Now I'm urgently trying to warn Israel and the
world that this vision would be very dangerous for Israel to implement unless
there's an end to "honor" killings and jihad killings in Arab Muslim culture.
Peace begins at home. And jihad needs to become the non-violent effort that we
make to become kinder and more generous instead of ever being about violence.
And there also needs to be an end to incitement against Israel and against
Yehudim (Jews) before the two open capitals vision of Jerusalem could ever
be safely put into effect.
The vision of Jerusalem
came to me very strongly many years ago. I imagined a tower in Jerusalem with a
beam of light circling around at the top of the tower and going out to the
united city, and with peace between Yehudim and Arabs, and with part of
the city serving as Israel's capital and part of the city serving as Palestine's
capital and with no barrier between the two capitals.
I published the vision of
Jerusalem as two open capitals without a barrier between them as part of my
Letter to Yasser Arafat in Al Bayader Assiyasi (Jerusalem,
24/3/1984), and it was published later as part of my Declaration of Peace,
the forerunner to my Covenant of Peace, in Al-Fajr (Jerusalem,
18/4/1984). In each publication the vision concerning Jerusalem was part of an
essay that was an extensive vision of world peace that involved respect,
non-violence, power-sharing, decision making by a consensus process, self-rule
for all peoples who want it, an end to the weapons race, global disarmament,
etc. Back then, the thought of two capitals in Jerusalem without a barrier
between them was a very radical and unheard of idea, for that was the time of
the "Iron Curtain" and the Berlin Wall. Hanna Siniora, the former editor of
Al-Fajr told me a few years ago that he never heard of this Jerusalem vision
until I shared it with him.
Back then, the Palestinian
leadership were not asking for any part of Jerusalem to be their capital, they
just didn't want any part of Jerusalem to be Israel's capital, and instead they
wanted Jerusalem to be an "international city" in line with UN General Assembly
Resolution 181 passed in 1947. I would tell the Palestinians something like,
"It's our capital, and it can be your capital too, without a barrier between
us." Now I realize how much non-violence and an end to incitement is so
necessary for ever being able to achieve this peaceful vision. And now I
realize that peace begins at home. The so-called "honor" killing of a female
relative for sexual rumors or for sexual facts that is still widely practiced
and supported in many Arab Muslim societies must be brought to a stop, and only
when the "honor" killings stop will a deep and lasting peace between Arab
Muslims and their neighbors become possible.
In late 1983 and in 1984 I
made a tremendous effort to lobby the Palestinian Arab leadership in Jerusalem
and the West Bank with my ideas and visions concerning Jerusalem, power-sharing,
peace, etc. I met with Palestinian leaders Faisal Husseini, Bassam Shaka'a,
Anwar Nusseibeh, Karim Khalaf, Elias Freij, Hanna Siniora, Mahmoud Abu Zalaf and
others. (I can't remember now if I ever met Bethlehem mayor Elias Freij in
person but I do remember the many long and wonderful phone calls we had). I
shared the Declaration of Peace with its two capitals vision of an
undivided Jerusalem with the PLO when I visited its Cairo office in 1984 and its
London office in 1987. I spoke with Faisal Husseini, the PLO's leader in
Jerusalem, several times a week for a few months at his Arab Studies Center in
Orient House in Jerusalem. Husseini was so impressed with Declaration of
Peace that he printed up 1,000 copies of it in Arabic for visitors to his
office, and he promised to put it in the school curriculum of a future
Palestinian state. Karim Khalaf, the mayor of Jericho, was also so impressed
with Declaration of Peace that he sent it to Yasser Arafat three times
asking him to respond to it. We never received a reply from Arafat. Several
evenings in 1984 I went to see Mahmoud Abu Zalaf, the editor of the Jerusalem
newspaper Al-Quds, and he would often ask me to share my two open
capitals vision of Jerusalem with the other people sitting in his office.
I left Israel around the
end of 1984 and did not return until the summer of 1989. After a while I
reestablished contact with Hanna Siniora and later with Faisal Husseini, meeting
with him on the 9th of September, 1990 at the Ritz Hotel in
Jerusalem. At that meeting we mostly discussed how to get the Declaration of
Peace to as many people as possible. Later, I believe that it was at some point
in the early 90's that I began hearing on Israeli media that the Palestinians
were demanding their capital be in eastern Jerusalem. And after the Palestinian
Authority was formed it certainly must have held discussions with Israel about
Jerusalem serving as two capitals without a barrier between them – this was on
the agenda at Camp David in 2000.
Of course Jerusalem must
never become two capitals with a barrier between them. The physical integrity
and wholeness and completeness of Jerusalem must be respected.
The Jerusalem vision of
two open capitals, no physical barrier between them, each people governing and
policing themselves where they dwell, is a vision that I gave the Palestinian
leadership which in turn gave it to the Left, and till now I have not been
acknowledged as the source of this vision, and it is not known now that this
vision was part of an essay on peace containing principles and understandings
that are vital for the safety and success of this Jerusalem vision and for peace
in general. This essay on peace has been considerably revised over many years
and now and for most of its existence it has been called
Covenant of Peace,
and it can be accessed at
10 Points for Peace
and other peace writings and music. The most important thing is to stop
killing, stop blaming, stop hating. The time to implement this Jerusalem vision
is when there's more respect and almost everyone is working for non-violence,
and when there is more power sharing and more decision making by a consensus
process, and when there is much less hatred and incitement against Yehudim
Several years ago Rabbi
Meir Just, may his memory be for a blessing, who was the chief rabbi of
Nederland and who was my rabbi, suggested that I not go much into specifics
concerning Jerusalem in my Covenant of Peace, and I decided to no longer
make mention in Covenant of Peace of the vision of Jerusalem as two open
capitals without a barrier, though I believe it will eventually come to pass.
It will come to pass because of the truth that each people will eventually
govern and police themselves where they dwell. But before it comes to pass
there must first be an end to "honor" killings and jihad killings and
incitement. An Israeli Arab policeman once told me that even 1,000 years from
now there will be "honor" killings, so we might even have to wait 1,000 years or
more for the two open capitals vision of Jerusalem to come to pass. And we must
also wait many years to build trust and to heal from all the Yehudim who
were murdered by Arab Muslim terrorists while those Yehudim were eating
in restaurants in Jerusalem or riding on busses in Jerusalem, etc.
The truth is that the
Jewish claim and roots to Jerusalem are stronger than any other people's,
including Arab Muslims:
Jerusalem was King David's capital 3,000 years ago.
Jerusalem is mentioned many hundreds of times in the Hebrew Bible and is not
mentioned once in the Koran.
For thousands of years Yehudim throughout the world have faced Jerusalem
when they pray, while all Muslims pray facing Mecca.
Jerusalem was the home of two major temples of worship where multitudes made
pilgrimage three times a year.
The blood of so many Yehudim has been spilled as they fought at different
times in history to defend their right to live and worship in Jerusalem.
And so many innocent Yehudim in Jerusalem have been murdered by Arab
Muslim terrorists in two Intifadas and numerous terrorist attacks.
Israel needs to exercise
great caution and wisdom concerning Jerusalem. When there is a deep and lasting
peace that begins at home, then many wonderful things gradually become possible.
As for the separation
barrier that has been constructed between Israeli and Palestinian areas, that is
not at all about apartheid or racial prejudice and is instead about self-defense
from suicide bombers and other violent jihadists. Israel and every country has
a right to self-defense. The separation barrier was necessitated by the Second
Intifada and it put an end to the Second Intifada. It needs to remain standing
until there's an end to "honor" killings and jihad killings and incitement.
Any Jerusalem vision must
include a vision of the Temple Mount. Let Israel eventually rebuild the
meeshkahn, the tabernacle, and place it on the Temple Mount alongside the
mosques. There the incense altar and the menorah will provide great joy to
those who behold them, and there will be further happiness on the festival of
Succot when we pour water on the altar. I don't believe there will be
animal sacrifices again, but we will joyfully bring first fruits. The
Palestinian Arabs will need to accept that other peoples and religions can also
pray on the Temple Mount, and this must be a condition for forging a peace with
them. In the messianic days, the Temple Mount, with a rebuilt tabernacle
alongside the mosques, will be declared to belong to God Almighty, and security
on the Temple Mount will be maintained by Israelis and Palestinians. May we all
aim for non-violence and kindness.
I never had a bar
mitzvah when I was 13 and I want to have my bar mitzvah on the Temple
Mount in Jerusalem. I want to invite the leaders of Israel and the leaders of
Israel's friends and the leaders of Israel's present enemies to this event.
There I will read about a "brit shalom," a "covenant of peace," a
methak salaam that is promised in Ezekiel 37:26, and that I believe is the
Covenant of Peace
I have written with God's help.
Jerusalem will become the
center of the world, and a place where a very reformed United Nations General
Assembly will sometimes meet. We will try not to blame, and instead try to
understand cause and effect relationships and try to steer things towards more
justice and peace and love between all of us.
Looking beyond Jerusalem
and to all this holy land between the river and the sea, each people will govern
and police themselves where they dwell. Each Yehudi (Jewish) town or
village or neighborhood will be under the Israeli government, and each Arab town
or village or neighborhood will be under the Palestinian Arab government. We
will peacefully find solutions and decide how to deal with mixed neighborhoods.
Israel and Palestine will be two nations with basically one map. Let no houses
or villages or "settlements" be torn down, let no families be uprooted from
their homes. Let Yehuda v'Shomron (Judea and Samaria, the West Bank)
never be made Judenrein ("Jew clean") in order to create the state of
Palestine. Yehudim and Arabs will continue to live all across this
land. The two governments will set up committees to issue permits for further
construction. We will also try to protect open spaces as much as we can. There
will develop great communication and cooperation between the two governments.
Let us approach each other peacefully and respectfully. All of this is a very
high vision – it will come to pass if there is enough non-violence, which will
create the trust that will let it happen. Let's open our hearts and be kind.
We are many we are one.