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May 21, 2004 - Image 60

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-05-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Beaten Down

Thirty-seven years after city's reunification, Jerusalem struggles to regain vitality.

GIL SEDAN
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Jerusalem

y

care of their business and hurry home.
"Obviously, if there is peace, there will
be tourists, and if there are tourists,
things will change," Cohen said.
Then he smiled sadly. "Perhaps things
will change, but it will take a few more
years. In the meantime, Jerusalem is
dead," he said.
Dead sounds rather merciless; serious-
ly ill would be more accurate.
Outside of city residents and foreign
visitors — more often than not religious
pilgrims of some sort — Jerusalem has
been shunned by many Israelis. "When
I ask my friends in Tel Aviv, 'Does any-
one need a ride to Jerusalem?' they look
at me pitifully" writer, satirist and play-
wright Ephraim Sidon said. "For resi-
dents of Tel Aviv, going to Jerusalem is a
rather risky business," he said, referring
to the numerous terrorist attacks in the
capital.

ossi Cohen stood at the door
of his gift shop, arms folded
behind his back, waiting for
customers.
The veteran shopkeeper at the Rasco
passage in downtown Jerusalem had low
expectations. Waiting for the next cus-
tomer has become his natural state of
mind. Waiting — for lack of anything
else to do.
This week marks the 37th Jerusalem
Day, the anniversary of the reunification
of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day
War, when the eastern part of the city
was wrested back from Jordan.
But 3V2 years after the start of the
Palestinian intifada, Jerusalem still is
somewhat separated from the rest of the
country — and Yossi Cohen was in no
mood for festivities. "Business is bad,"
Population Decline
Cohen said. "Real bad."
The number of residents leaving
Though shoppers have returned to
Jerusalem is greater than those moving
Jerusalem's city center since the peak of
in, according to the Jerusalem Institute
Palestinian terrorism, going to down-
for
Israel Studies. In 2002, the latest year
town Jerusalem is no longer considered
for which data is available, 16,400 peo-
a leisurely outing. People come, take

ple moved out of the city, while only
9,700 moved in. At the end of last year,
Jerusalem had 692,300 residents, 67
percent of them Jews. Some 30 percent
are fervently Orthodox, or charedi.
Technically, Jerusalem remains Israel's
largest city, but that's because of the
expansion of the city's municipal bound-
aries and the fact that the country's
largest metropolitan area, around Tel
Aviv, is divided among several large
cities.
Over the past 14 years, Jerusalem has
lost 100,000 residents, most of them
young, secular Jews. But many of them
also have been Orthodox, who move
out of Jerusalem to less expensive places
such as Beitar hit and the Orthodox
neighborhoods of Beit Shemesh.
On the face of it, there is no reason
why Jerusalem should not be one of the
liveliest places in Israel, despite the drop
in tourism. With 42,000 students and
60 high-tech companies, the city has the
potential to attract young, educated
Israelis.
But last week's Student Day events
were a case study of why things aren't so
easy. The events, mostly rock concerts,
took place in the highly protected and

closed campuses of Hebrew University
at Mount Scopus and Givat Ram.
Mount Scopus lies at the eastern rim of
the Jewish part of the capital, far from
the business center, behind closed fences
and other high-alert security devices.
"Even a couple that wants to go for a
romantic walk in the mountains cannot
do so because the immediate neighbor-
hood of the campus is a hostile Arab vil-
lage," said Sidon, who is considering
leaving Jerusalem for Tel Aviv. "If you
ask me, they should have closed down
the campus and brought back all stu-
dents to Givat Ram."
Givat Ram, within walking distance
of downtown Jerusalem, was the main
campus until the Mount Scopus campus
was rebuilt following the Six-Day War,
which enabled easy passage to the previ-
ously isolated hilltop.
Indeed, until the late 1970s, students
dominated downtown Jerusalem. To a
large extent, they provided the economic
fuel for small businesses in the heart of
the city, like Yossi Cohen's gift shop.
Now many Jerusalemites who visit the
downtown leave quickly. They go to
cash machines, shop quickly at one of -
the $2 shops or grab a bite of falafel.

Friendly Faces

To a cheering AIPAC, Bush makes case for his policy in Iraq.

MATTHEW E. BERGER
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Washington

zi

resident Bush knew what
he was doing when he
took his case for staying
the course in Iraq to the
American Israel Public Affairs
Committee this week. No audience
appreciates the president more for
sticking to his guns in the Middle
East than the pro-Israel lobby in
Washington.
Bush received 23 standing ovations
Tuesday, May 18, while defending his
Iraq policy and reiterating his admin-

5/21
2004

60

istration's strong support of Israel.
That support won him thunderous
ovations throughout the speech, with
a smattering of attendees holding up
four fingers and shouting, "Four
more years!"
While AIPAC's membership is tra-
ditionally Democratic, many AIPAC
members have said they will back
Bush in November because of his
stance on Israel.
Bush spent much of his speech
defending an Iraq policy buffeted by
casualties and scandal. He remained
committed to defeating insurgents in
Iraq and transferring power there to a
U.S.-friendly government. "We will
not be intimidated by thugs and

assassins," Bush said. "We •
will win this essential,
important victory in the war
on terror."
Bush has faced much criti-
cism for the U.S. invasion
of Iraq, the failure to find
weapons of mass destruction
there, which he cited as the
primary justification for
war, and the violence that
has continued to plague Iraq
since the end of large-scale
hostilities last year.
Among many supporters
of Israel, however, the war is
seen largely as a positive,
with the ouster of Saddam Hussein

considered a boon to Israel's security.
Bush justified the military action in

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