Monday, January 28, 2008

Former Ideas on Jerusalem

Weizmann vs Herzl

Sir, - Yehuda Avner's "Chaim Weizmann's tea with Mussolini" (January 23) was fascinating. At Weizman's 1934 meeting with Mussolini in Rome, Avner quotes Mussolini: "So what about Jerusalem - what do you say about its future?" Weizman replied: "One thing has to be made abundantly clear - if Jerusalem does not become a Jewish capital it cannot become an Arab capital. Jerusalem is the confluence of three religions. But it must be noted that the sanctity of Jerusalem for Muslims is something of a recent invention, whereas for the Jews Jerusalem is the City of David and, of course, for Christians it is the center of their holy places."

It is interesting to compare this with Theodor Herzl's ideas about Jerusalem, as expressed less than 40 years earlier in a diary entry dated May 7, 1896. Herzl related a meeting with an associate, who reported that the sultan of Turkey had declared he would never give up Jerusalem. The Mosque of Omar must remain forever in the hands of Islam.

Herzl's response: "We can get around that difficulty. We shall exterritorialize Jerusalem, so that it will belong to nobody and yet everybody; and with it the Holy Places, which will become the joint possession of all believers - a great condominium of culture and morality" (The Diaries of Theodor Herzl, Gollancz London 1958, page 127). Two years later, in Jerusalem, on November 2, 1898, Herzl wrote about his "idea of restricting the Old City to humanitarian institutions, cleaning it up, and building a New Jerusalem which could be viewed from the Mount of Olives as Rome [is] from the Gianicolo."

ZEEV RAPHAEL
Haifa

3 comments:

Zeev said...

“We shall exterritorialize Jerusalem, so that it will belong to nobody and yet everybody; and with it the Holy Places, which will become the joint possession of all believers - a great condominium of culture and morality."

Yisrael Medad: I wonder what you think of Herzl’s idea. A sort of “vaticanized” Jerusalem. Might that not be a plausible proposition?

YMedad said...

Plausible? The Muslims will never agree. And the Vatican, is sovereign Catholic church territory. It is an absolute theocratic monarchy, in which the head of the Catholic Church takes power. The Pope exercises ex officio principal legislative, executive, and judicial power over the State of the Vatican City. Er where is the parallel in Jerusalem? The Chief Rabbi? The Kohen Gadol? The Immam? How is it "sort of"?

Zeev said...

“The Muslims will never agree.” I am not so sure about that. WE are in charge there at present. So the question is, do WE agree. In case we do, then let us propose it. In case they refuse, we will have lost nothing, but will have gained points in world opinion.

I am aware of the differences between the two situations. That is the reason I wrote “sort of ‘vaticanized’ ”, with ‘vaticanized’ in quotation marks. If a unique solution could have been found for the Vatican, then I believe that a unique solution can also be found for the Old City of Jerusalem. But for that, a good measure of good will is required, - on both sides.

But I am afraid that our decision makers are not even willing to try…