leon gork tour guide
Newsletter 56: My Jerusalem tours are like Hyde Park corner
This week an English tourist mentioned some planned restrictions on eating in public in order not to offend the sensitivities of the Moslems who are fasting in Ramadan.
Here in Israel we don't have a law like that, even though we are very strict about not making speeches of incitement against any population group or taking any action which may provoke the sensitivities of any particular group whether Jews, Moslems or Christians.
This discussion started me thinking about the similarity between my work as a tour guide and the speakers giving their opinions at Hyde Park Corner, that wonderful place in London where any individual has the right to state his mind in public.
We don't have such a place in Jerusalem or even Tel Aviv It could be that the Middle Eastern temperament is too hot to permit calm discussion.
My tours in Jerusalem and Israel are the closest one can come in Israel to the situation in Hyde Park.
Every time I tour I'm like one of those guys in Hyde Park. Like the speakers in Hyde Park I have an almost daily audience. I don't aim to convince my audience about any particular subject, which is what I believe the Hyde Park people are trying to do.
My activity is explaining. But there are so many remains of ancient buildings, especially with all the archaeological digs going on, that I can't help giving my opinion about what happened at each of these places. So I end up doing very much the same as the people at Hyde Park Corner are doing.
A ruined house or wall, an old church, a mosque or a burial tomb may point to a certain event taking place there and the answer has all the appearances of a fact, but it's not. It's an opinion or a belief.
Archaeological sites, like the City of David or the Broad Wall are facts, which no one can deny, but I can only say that I believe certain events happened there, like the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar or Jeremiah's letter to king Ahaz or Senacherab's siege of Jerusalem etc.
Jerusalem is famous because these events happened here. People come to Jerusalem from all over the world and from every religious persuasion to see where they happened. These great events changed the history of the world.
Now there's a brand new shopping mall just outside the Jaffa Gate. In my opinion this is just a continuation of a trend started by Suleiman the Magnificent 400 years ago. Suleiman, wisely ensured entrepreneurs a steady stream of shoppers by building a wall around Jerusalem and making it a safe place to live in and to visit.
Jerusalem is once again becoming the modern city it was in the days of David, Solomon, Judah the Macabbee, Jesus and many others. It was a city that set trends for the world to follow and it's becoming that again.
Wishing you a great no news day.