Do not believe anyone who speaks heroically about Jerusalem. Do not believe anyone who speaks of it at all. Not in the old books, not in the newspaper, and certainly not on television. Every word should be read with suspicion; the writer may suffer from Jerusalem Syndrome and therefore may not be a reliable source. He or she may have become a slave to the city, a city which is a bunch of streets and roads, nothing more. The stones do not whisper. God does not exist.
The Stones Elegy
Ancient stones whisper to you – LEAVE. They have already seen it all, and there is nothing new under the sun. The lights from the past, the shadows of the future, and the clear mountain air all exclaim: HERE children were slaughtered, THERE martyrs were crucified, THIS is the bus stop that exploded a decade ago, and THAT is the house from which a whole generation was been uprooted.
Looking around me, I see the people with whom I share the city. I must say, it doesn’t necessarily make me feel proud; I might even feel ashamed. Delusional patriots, ignorant vigilantes, and blind believers flood the streets on Thursday night. There are days when walking about can feel like a war; the slightest spark can ignite a deadly explosive mob of angry men. You are simply trying to get back home, and you find yourself praying that a ricochet of hate, one that may bleed in you forever, misses.
You are surrounded by breathtaking buildings that seem to bear a sweet secret from the past, overshadowed by huge buildings designed by contemporary landscape terrorists – a formless conglomerate, an ugly and repulsive Shatnez.
What is YOUR part in this madman’s circus? The bag you carry is too heavy for you. There is nowhere you can drink a glass of wine in peace. A swamped social life – no one can just properly fuck, there is always someone pushing their nose into your business. Tinder is dead, Grinder is dead, not to mention the dire lesbian situation.
Crawling under the bed and asking for peace and quiet. You are part of an endangered minority (one of many kinds): a young secular artist in Jerusalem. What do you have to look for here, in a city whose budgets are all directed towards oppression and religion? Between the refugee camp and the governmental quarter, you try to remember who was here before whom and WHY the hell it matters. Institutionalized superiority and organized crime. Shoot, then call it “self-defense”. Take the train and drink coffee twenty feet from the police station that holds tortured prisoners.
It is unbearable; How can you still live here?
Perhaps the raging storm reminds you of the storm within yourself. A city attuned to masochists who seek the comfort of reflection. Where else in the world do your inner voices calling for your own demolition take tangible form in the material world, dancing around you, whispering? You can see them, talk to them, touch them. When horror takes shape, it is much less frightening, sometimes. You may sink to the bottom of the barrel from sheer helplessness and, at the same time, grow and flourish out of resistance.
There’s a spark, the joy of the underground. In a sense – you are God, creating out of chaos. With no budget, you must revive the magician within you. It is more satisfying to create where nothing exists; the ground is an infinite range of possibilities. Events waiting to happen, texts soon to be published – the injustices as well as the gestures of free love. Here is the best ground for exploring the human race – its flaws and virtues. How can you give it up and surrender to the current, to the high-tech towers, to the obvious realms of mundane life? You know that here you are special, along with your various other disabilities.
Here you are not surrounded by your own replicas – but by your greatest enemies. Here you share a bus with people whom you wish dead, or at least for their immediate disappearance. You cannot run away from the truth – the city slaps it in your face over and over again until you have no choice but to accept its presence.
And then – moments of astonishment, Left-wing activists and sworn racists buy falafel and laugh with the seller. A boy from the city’s east passes his travel ticket to an ultra-Orthodox woman. A queer woman guards the boy who gets stuck on the train after his whole family gets off – assuring them from behind the glass doors that she will drop him off safely at the next stop. Everyone cares too much. But everyone cares.
If you already live in Israel-Palestine – it is better to see the inferno up close, not to live with the illusion of no consequences.
Celebration, Mourning, and a Prayer.
A celebration here forces you to believe. Or rather – to celebrate, you must be a devout believer. At any moment, everything can shatter. Well, let’s see you dancing now. When a celebration raises hope for sanity and joy, then the party is the most colorful and exciting you have ever experienced.
However- deep down, you know that only destruction will bring salvation. Open channels for mourning, allowing everyone to cry healing tears. The sooner, the better.