A walking tour of Jerusalem in the year 2068

While Jerusalem remained the political capital, Beersheba took over from Tel Aviv as the financial, industrial and cultural center.

By MICHAEL LOFTUS
April 29, 2008 18:40
A walking tour of Jerusalem in the year 2068

the future 88. (photo credit: )

Welcome, welcome all. My name is Michael and I will be your tour guide for the next few hours. We'll be visiting some of the highlights of Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, which is now celebrating its 120th birthday. Before we get started, I always like to ask where everyone is from. You sir, where are you from... ah... China, and I assume is that your beautiful wife and family? Very nice. I just completed my certification in Cantonese. Still pretty basic, I'm afraid, but I'll try out a few words. Oh, yes, all the tour guides must now be able to guide in Mandarin, and we get some extra credit for Cantonese. Many guides speak at least two or three dialects. You can't really survive as a tour guide without knowing Chinese. People from China comprise the largest number of tourists to our country, world's biggest economy and all that. And you sir? India I presume? Can I take a guess? Calcutta... no... Goa... Puna? Ah, of course. How did I know? Well, of course Puna has such a great university, and so many of our students study there. Since India took over as the English-language center for learning, many Israelis go there to study. There are a lot of similarities between our countries. Both were able to find ways of ending religious and ethnic strife and concentrate on education. I hope we'll be able to see some of that on our tour. And you, young lady? From where? The Federated States of North America? Here on a Third World scholarship? Well, that's wonderful. I'm so glad that the richer countries can help some of the less fortunate areas of the world. Let's get started. We are here in the center of town, known as Malha. The old center, which was to the west of the ancient old city, began to die off as traffic jams slowly choked the western approaches to the city. There was a light rail transit scheme that was begun about 60 years ago. But it was too little and too late. Costs ballooned out of control and nearly bankrupted the city. The final death knell came with the great earthquake of 2020. They had built this great tower with cables running down. Here, I'll show you a photo. Very pretty in it's day. But here is a photo after the earthquake. Luckily very few were hurt, but as you can see, one day up, and another day down. The second reason was the general shift to the south that also happened around that time. As you might remember, the great leap forward in solar power was discovered at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba. Just after the great earthquake, the discovery of nano-silicon mutations simultaneously increased solar battery power production and decreased costs dramatically. Really, that marks the major change between the first 60 years and the second 60 years of the state. You see, before the great discovery, the world was based on oil. The center of power was the country known as United States, and so much misery occurred in this part of the world due to the power of the Arab oil-rich nations, and their financing of terror groups. Once solar power took over, the balance of power shifted, and everything changed. Arab oil money dried up and the democratic revolutions in those countries meant that they stopped financing terror activities. Unfortunately, America also declined quickly as a superpower and was forced to merge with Canada and Mexico as the new Federated North America. Of course, since the discovery was made here in our country, many changes also took place locally. While Jerusalem remained the political capital, Beersheba took over from Tel Aviv as the financial, industrial and cultural center. This was the dream of David Ben-Gurion, one of the founders of the state. It just took a little longer to realize that dream. For its part, Tel Aviv used to be called the city that never slept, but the joke was that after too many years of expensive parties and bar hopping, people never slept because they were worrying about their mortgages and overdrafts. They simply spent too much money. It is still a lovely city and I strongly recommend you visit it. They have done a nice job in preserving a few of the old office towers. Really as you can see, everything we see now comes back to that great solar leap forward. For example, this lovely building here on your left is the Education Ministry. It is the most important ministry in the government. Since the great discovery, the importance of education was finally recognized as the key to development and given the highest priority. The Education Ministry gets the most from the national budget and, of course, all education here is free of charge. That model of free education began in Ireland over 60 years ago, but was adopted more in the East than the West. I believe that that is true in India and China as well - right? Sort of explains things. It has been proven that education is the key to growth and development, so the best investment a country can make is in education. The old United States used to have private schooling, but now that levels have gone down so much, no one wants to go study there. In this building, teachers must pass their final exams. To be a teacher here is one of the hardest professions, requires years and years of study, but they have the highest salaries. Teachers of the grade schools are paid the most, followed quite closely by middle-school teachers and finally high-school educators. As for other professions, I believe science and software engineers and next, followed by preventative medical researchers. You can also make a pretty good living in the arts. Lawyers? Oh, they don't earn very much. Basically if you're not smart enough to do anything else, you become a lawyer. It's not really a respected profession anymore. The building, you will note, is mostly underground. A great majority of the buildings have most of their offices underground. Another innovation that began here, that actually has roots in the ancient settlement of Beit Guvrin, where most of the houses had underground caverns. It has been shown that you reduce your need to cool such a building by over 25 percent since the temperature under ground is always lower than above ground. If you dig down, rather than build up, you can also increase green space instead of taking it away. Unfortunately, even though the oil age ended some 50 years ago, global warming was just beginning. Luckily for us, climate change has been relatively kind, bringing more rainfall than in the past, especially in the Negev regions. We do a great deal of research with the University of Petra in Jordan. Petra, you may know, was a great city over two thousand years ago, but then was abandoned because of high Roman taxes but also because of climate change, which caused its water supplies to dry up. When the springs returned, and electric vehicle travel became the norm replacing polluting air travel, the old spice routes reopened and Petra sprang up again. Because of the peace treaty and earlier good relations, it was just natural that further relations would develop. As you can see, the State of Israel is still on the cutting edge of technology, so the building to the left is the second most important ministry, Science and Technology. So many of the technological advances we just take for granted today began right here in this building. Of course, all of the solar technology we use, but also water purification and air purification systems. In fact, this building was a gift from the city of Los Angeles for helping it survive its pollution crisis of 2037. Over to the left is the ancient Teddy Stadium, which is still used for limited sporting activity. But the huge amphitheater beside it is where the last cultural Olympics were held. Yes, that's right, right here in Jerusalem. The cultural Olympics were reinstituted into the Olympic Games in 2026, 130 years after the first of the modern Olympics. It was known that in ancient times, the Olympic Games were not only for sports but also held competitions for poetry and theater and music. Now, the cultural Olympics comprise more than 30 cultural categories and occur for an entire month. Last year Israel won in several categories such as music - group and solo performances, as well as the two major theaters, comedy and tragedy. Several silver medals were won in visual arts, painting, sculpture and multimedia. Please, follow me and we will come to the Monument to Toleration. Quite beautiful, isn't it? While it appears to be a merger of different images, in fact, each image was chosen by opposing groups as something that they find appealing in the other. So for example, Orthodox Jews choose an image from the Reform movement and vice versa. Muslims and Jews, Ashkenazi and Sephardi, city dwellers and moshavniks, even classical musicians and rock fans; each group had to choose an image from the pantheon of their opposite. It is very new, erected only two years ago, and 10 years after the Act of Toleration was enshrined into law. The Toleration Movement worldwide reached its height in 2045 and in finally in 2048, exactly 100 years after the founding of the state, the Act of Toleration was established into law by the government. The Toleration Act is modeled after similar acts worldwide and promotes acceptance and moderation. Extremism is outlawed. Initially, it was thought that the act would have no effect, but strangely, moderates in all political spectrums felt emboldened by the law and slowly began to enforce the law. Historians draw similarities with the anti-smoking movement and the anti-smoking laws of the late 20th century. An act that was thought unenforceable was slowly accepted by society. I think we'll stop here for a brief rest. There is so much more to see; the Ein Yael shopping district - a modernized refurbished ancient Roman estate where a famous inscription was found dating back to the Second Temple which when translated was found to be a shopping list with the words: "and don't forget the olive oil again!" The National Service Ministry is where everyone at the age of 18 must come to be assigned their year of national service. Military service was replaced when peaceful relations with our neighbors were reached, but still all 18 year olds must serve a year. Part of the Toleration Act requires them to serve in areas opposite to where they grew up. We'll end our tour here at the Ataroma café. It represents a nice blend of old and new, being the merger of the old Atara café which was "the" café in Jerusalem back in 1948, and the Aroma café being the "in" café around 2008. You will find the food quite excellent. They can prepare some excellent Chinese and Thai dishes. Only recycled products and fresh produce are used. Israeli chef's have become world renowned and have traveled to poorer places like the old United States and England to help show them how to eat unprocessed foods. Indeed things here are looking quite bright. We still have our problems of course. We have so many needy Jewish communities that come here from all parts of the world to ask for donations. It is so hard to turn them away. Israelis are known for their quiet politeness and generosity. I think that's why so many come to our country and our great city, to gain a little peace and quiet.


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