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I don’t like Jerusalem. The truth is, I hate it. I try to go there as little as possible and leave as quickly as possible. For the most part, it’s an ugly and infuriating city.
The Jewish part has some charming spots, all in the old neighborhoods. The Old City, which is in the Palestinian part, is of course spectacular in its beauty and history. All the rest: ugliness.
The new settler neighborhoods are ugly, as are the Palestinian neighborhoods, which are filthy and neglected, as is the city center. Even the Old City’s beauty has long been erased – an occupied city is always frighteningly ugly.
But a city doesn’t have to be beautiful to be loved. Tel Aviv isn’t beautiful, yet it is loved. A secular, liberal and humanist Israeli cannot love Jerusalem – you can’t love a city when it's immoral. Its sanctity cannot speak to a secular person; such a person can’t accept the false political premises stemming from this sanctity.
Such Israelis should stand up against the religious-nationalist brainwashing campaign all around Jerusalem. This isn’t their campaign.
But to tell the truth about Jerusalem, we need courageous leaders, who of course are lacking. The truth is, no country in the world recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It has been destroyed by the occupation. It is divided, torn and scarred.
Its sanctity is a matter for believers only — and in any case there’s no connection between this and sovereignty. Its division into two capitals or its morphing into the capital of one state will be much less of a disaster than continuing its occupation.
Meanwhile, we can only stay away from it, as much as possible.