Last week the Economist had a cheery little item about the Jerusalem Zoo. Now I recognize it's ungrateful of me to nitpick when the paper is being mostly positive, but the subtitle of the item said the zoo is "a corner of cheerful coexistence in a largely segregated city", and that does require a response. Of course, the city is largely segregated, and will remain so no matter what, since the Jews and the Muslims speak different languages, live by different calenders, and are separated by different cultures. Having said that, however, here's a short and abbreviated list of places where you'll find both Jews and Muslims together on a regular basis:
The four Jewish hospitals. The University (all three campuses). The center of town. The Mamilah open-air mall. The Malcha air-conditioned mall. The public swimming pools. The Hadassah Technological College. Cafes on Emek Refaim. The Knesset. Machane Yehuda. The markets of the Old City. Abu Shukri in the Old City. The city parks. City Hall. The courts. The National library. Most supermarkets. Buses. Taxicabs. Security guards: you'd be astonished how many of them seem to be Arab. The Police. The water company. The Firefighters. Construction sites.
Which reminds me that last week we overheard a lady at the cinemateque, probably a visitor from Tel Aviv, saying to her friend "this little Jewel is the first place we've seen since entering the city where there are no Haredi. Such a relief!"
Having recently read Simon Sebag Montefiore's Jerusalem: The Biography, then a book in Hebrew on the Jerusalem municipality under the British, and now I"m approaching completion of Karen Armstong's Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths, I feel reasonably confident in saying there has never been a period in the past two thousand years when all of Jerusalem's inhabitant's enjoyed freedom and equality - unless it was in the periods when entire religious or ethnic groups were simply banned, so the remaining insiders enjoyed equality among themselves. This morning, being Easter Sunday, I walked through the Christian Quarter of the Old City. Masses of Christians from the world over were celebrating. The Arab Christian shop owners had mostly not opened their establishments so their Muslim neighbors were doing a roaring business. The Jews are celebrating the week of Pessach, so there were lots of them around - Israeli tourists or international ones. It wouldn't be accurate to say there's perfect peace and equality in Jerusalem at the moment, but the situation is closer than it has ever been.
Something to be proud of.