For and against: Jerusalemites and the papal visit

Residents of the capital exhibited a range of emotions about the pope's visit as roads were closed roads and beefed-up security snarled traffic.

By ABE SELIG
May 12, 2009 23:02
2 minute read.
For and against: Jerusalemites and the papal visit

pope at the wall 2 298.88. (photo credit: ap)

 
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Residents of the capital exhibited a range of emotions about the pope's visit on Tuesday, as closed roads and beefed-up security snarled traffic and people were forced to either alter their routine, or suffer the consequences. "It was quite bad getting in this morning," one commuter said, as she sat outside a cafe near the city center. "But I heard that by the afternoon already, things were getting better." But others reflected on lost business and a general difficulty in getting things done, as Benedict's motorcade and a huge apparatus of Jerusalem police, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) agents and assorted government officials clogged parts of downtown throughout the morning. "The whole day is gone," said a baker on King George Street who asked not to be named. "Did you see all the roads they had closed around here? We've barely had any business today, and what can I tell you, it's a loss." But Azzim, a taxi driver who leaned on his parked cab near Kikkar Zion, said he had come to accept the situation. "What can we do?" he said. "It makes things crazy, but just like when any important person comes you have to welcome them nicely. If a guest were to come to your house, you're going to tell him no? We lose some money, but it's like when other world leaders arrive, we make do." Nonetheless, Azzim said he had yet to pick up a fare, and was thinking of calling it a day. "Honestly, I haven't even been driving around that much," he said. "There's almost no point." Tourists, on the other hand, showed signs of resilience, telling The Jerusalem Post their trip to the capital hadn't been overshadowed by the increased security measures and that they were ready to hoof it from point to point, if need be. "We planned on it," two women from Haifa said. "So we've just been walking around. It's hot, but otherwise, we're having a good time." Later, helicopters could still be heard buzzing overhead, but streets had opened up and things had more or less returned to normal. "No roads remained closed after the pope left the Garden [of Gethsemane, later in the afternoon]," a municipal spokeswoman said. "Everything opened up after that, and now things should be moving just fine." Still, some said the commotion and pomp bringing downtown to a near-halt simply wasn't worth it. "He should have just stayed at home," one man on Rehov Ben-Yehuda said. "He's not a friend, and he's just stirring things up."

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