30,000 flock to Old City for Jerusalem Day.
(photo credit: SETH J. FRANTZMAN)
Fifty years ago, Jerusalem was reunited in a stunning victory that took less than six days. Israel shocked the world by defeating five Arab armies seeking to destroy the lone Jewish state, tripling in size and reuniting Jerusalem. Since this incredible victory, Jerusalem has returned to its founding promise as the united, eternal capital of Israel, open to all.
Since Jerusalem’s reunification, Israel has maintained freedom of religion, freedom of movement and freedom of expression for all its residents. Unlike the countries around us, we celebrate diversity, especially in our capital. Today, in one square kilometer in the Holy City, 100 holy sites – for Jews, Muslims and Christians – exist peacefully, side by side. When you walk our streets, you see the diverse people of our city living together – in our restaurants and theaters, in our hospitals and universities. Life in Jerusalem does not distinguish between east and west, north and south.
This is the essence of Jerusalem. Three thousand years ago, the Land of Israel was divided into allotments for each of the 12 tribes – except for Jerusalem. Jerusalem was designated as a city for all. It was to remain an open, uniting and united capital. Kings and prophets walked the streets, and Jerusalem was established as a global center for inspired leadership, innovation and religion, which emanated from our city.
As mayor, my vision for the future for Jerusalem is rooted in this 3,000-year history. Today, we are working to ensure the city’s next 50 years are as vibrant and successful as the last 50.
We are leading the country and region in technology, cutting-edge infrastructure and transportation. In the next few years, we will open additional light rail lines and a new business district, which will bring 40,000 jobs to the city. Jerusalem is leading the tech revolution. In four years we have grown from 250 companies opening their doors in our capital to more than 600.
Jerusalem is undergoing a cultural and sports renaissance driven by dozens of new institutions and arenas. We are creating permanent homes for the city’s cultural institutions, including the new Jerusalem Arts Campus and the relocation of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design to the beating heart of Jerusalem. Our investment in sports is unprecedented in scope, including a new hockey rink, the Kraft Family Sports Campus, the Pais Arena and the expansion of Teddy Stadium to host athletes from around the world in the 2017 Maccabiah Games this summer. We are working to ensure that Jerusalem is growing to meet the demands of a modern metropolis, while preserving its rich, ancient history for the billions around the world who hold our city dear.
Jerusalem, the oldest new city in the world, is the heart and soul of the Jewish people and the holiest city in the world. By governing through a broad coalition, strong consensus and respect for all religions, we have yielded results in the last eight years that are being celebrated by all of the city’s residents, and will benefit Jerusalem for decades to come.
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification, I am honored to serve this city, and ensure that Jerusalem will continue to develop and thrive for the next 50 years and beyond.The writer is the mayor of Jerusalem. You can follow him on Twitter @nirbarkat