The great Malcom X once said and I repeat it after him no matter what others thinks of me:
“I am for the truth no matter who tells it. I am for justice no matter who it is for or against.”
Last month I had the privilege to attend the Jerusalem Post’s 3rd Annual Conference in New York City, which served as a significant day in my life to finally see my colleagues from the Jerusalem Post for the first time, especially our editor-in-chief, Mr. Steve Linde, who is a very friendly man and served as the conference moderator - which he managed it perfectly.
(Alongside ''Jerusalem Post'' editor-in-chief Steve Linde)
We had speeches and discussion panels from Israeli government officials and Knesset members, but what captured my attention the most was the speech of Jerusalem Mayor, Mr. Nir Barkat. He showed us what Jerusalem is becoming and will become in the future starting with the pluralism and freedom of religions, which I personally consider to be the most basic foundation for a truly united Jerusalem.
The mayor gave me high hopes, stating that this basic foundation is the strict strategy for the freedom of religion from now on.
His goal to reach 10 million tourists in place of last year’s 3.5 million is based on achievements and well planned developments such as the light festival that has been going for four years and in 2013 included 300,000 people from all over the world, celebrating together without distinguishing the difference who is who, or who is from where. Also, the Jerusalem marathon in March 2014 brought some 26,000 runners total and 2,500 runners from 55 different countries to run the streets of the city. Then there is the Formula 1 road show that started last year with 300,000 fans, and this year will be held on August 31st. I will do my best to attend and enjoy watching this very special event alongside some half a million other people.
Mr. Barkat showed us the infrastructure developments such as the sports complex that will host a soccer stadium and a basketball stadium set to open this summer. The city also plans to build an aquarium in the Biblical Zoo, which will be the biggest in the Middle East. Jerusalem also plans to build a large array of cinema complexes by spring 2015.
And my personal favorite, plans for developing a massive business district, expanding 11 million square feet of office space at the entrance of Jerusalem. The complex is expected to have 13 towers capable of absorbing 50,000 employees. This means the creation of 50,000 new jobs.
Add to this the building of high-speed trains to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv’s Sde Dov Airport and Ben-Gurion Airport which will enable afterwards the construction of more smart light-trains inside of Jerusalem.
During his speech, the mayor also shared many other statistical facts about education that I never knew about Jerusalem.
While the mayor was divulging all of these facts I felt very sad and even ashamed for our media along with my Egypt’s government. As I told the mayor of Jerusalem when we met after his speech, it is a shame that my Egypt and the rest of the MENA region has no clue about what Jerusalem is really becoming. I told him all we know here about Israel is the green jeep with the soldier next to it while the truth is totally different from what our media is telling us.
For this reason I started my article with the Malcom X quote, because the truth is the truth no matter how one shapes it with misguided facts or deny it with lies.
As an Arab, can you imagine for a few minutes what it would be like if we knew the real facts and lived in peace all together with the Israelis? With our oil money and our talented man-power, this region would become a super power of developments, education and science. But the hate propaganda and brainwash media that has been going for decades now reminds me of what the inventor Nikola Tesla once said:
"If your hate could be turned into electricity, it would light up the whole world."
After Mr. Barkat, the sweet amazing singer Rita invaded my heart and soul with her performance, not only with her talented voice that is filled with love and musical passion but by her story, which promted me to go up to the stage to tell her how wonderful she is.
Once she learned that I am an Egyptian in the house of the Jerusalem Post conference she gave me a loving and peaceful hug in which I will never forget.
(The lovely Rita)
One of the most surprising moments for me was when I met with Israel`s Ambassador to the UN, Mr. Ron Prosor at the end of the conference. When he told me that he was already aware of me and that he reads my work, it made me speechless for a minute. I was happily surprise that my voice is really being heard, but at the same time it adds to the burden that I have to highly professional and accurate in everything I write due to the responsibilities I have towards my readers and followers who trust my judgment and require me to do so.
(Alongside Israel''s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor)
Attending this conference along with my talks with the mayor of Jerusalem and Israel`s ambassador to the UN, made me realize that the Israelis don’t give up and nothing holds them back no matter what you say about them or do to them. This inspires me to always stand my ground for what I believe despite the consequences or the names people call me because I will always be busy improving. Like DOZA once said:
"To try and fail, then try again and fail again, they will call you stubborn, then try again and succeed, they will call you determined. While they are busy calling you names, you are busy IMPROVING."