The New Jerusalem

Categories: Seek Peace and Pursue it

The issue of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel continues to be a sore point with the nations.  It is one thing to argue that the status of East Jerusalem is an issue to be negotiated; it is quite another to refuse to put one’s embassy in any part of Jerusalem.  One may wonder just how far west of East Jerusalem Israel still could call Jerusalem before other nations would move their embassies there. There seems to be no limit.

So here is a proposal.  Israel changes the status of the area around each embassy in Tel Aviv to be part of Jerusalem.

There are several possible outcomes.  One is that the embassies remain in place and their countries claim the land is still Tel Aviv, while Israel can claim that the embassies are now in Jerusalem.  Face saved all around.

The other is that the nations maintain their insistence that any place called Jerusalem is off limits.  Then the embassies would have to move.   If they do, Israel moves the boundaries of Jerusalem from the old to the new sites. (We might call this option “If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, Muhammad will go to the mountain”—but let’s not go there.)  Either the embassies remain in the New Jerusalem (a pivotal concept in Christianity, but let’s not go there), or they move again, at which point Israel…well, you get the idea.

Two questions arise. The first is whether one municipality can surround another.  This is not unknown.  Lathrup Village, a Detroit suburb, is surrounded by Southfield, another Detroit suburb.  The municipality of Frederiksberg is surrounded by Copenhagen.

The second question is whether all parts of a municipality need to be contiguous.  Here again, counterexamples are not hard to find.  Entire countries have non-contiguous regions, like Alaska.  But if you insist, then a one-meter-wide strip snaking from West Jerusalem to the locations of the embassies can be declared part of Jerusalem.  (Or Way-West Jerusalem).

The mode of travel along the strip would be a 66.04 cm wide monorail.  This is the width of the Disneyland monorail.  (No comment.)  Instead of buses, mobile synagogues would be the means of transportation.  Thus, a mechitzah between front and back would not constitute illegal gender segregation.  (First-come-first-serve for Conservative and Reform synagogues.)

If the embassies keep moving, the eruv would be constructed on wheels.

Since the direction of davening is towards Jerusalem, synagogues would be built to rotate between Old and New Jerusalem, something like sky-view restaurants.

There are more radical alternatives.  Israel could keep moving the borders of Jerusalem west, to the Mediterranean.  (“We shall drive the Gentiles into the sea!”) Surely the current residents of Tel Aviv would be glad to give up their perks, such as nice clothing and decent restaurants, in the name of patriotism.  Or the embassies could move to Haifa. Ambassadors would of course be obliged to study German as a Second Language.

But what if Jerusalem spreads even further, with no boundaries, like Los Angeles?  Then the nations would have to carry their policy to its logical conclusion: Their embassies would not be in Israel at all.  Cyprus could be the alternative.  Not only is it famously conflict-free, but they could supplement their budgets by performing weddings for atheist Israelis.

The possibilities are endless.

About Jeffry V. Mallow Ph. D., Immediate Past President

Jeffry V. Mallow is Emeritus Professor of Physics at Loyola University Chicago. He does research on science education and on quantum physics. He is a member of the Forward Association and honorary chair of the Chicago YIVO Society. His articles on Jewish themes have appeared in numerous publications.  He is the author of Zionist Diarist and Other Polemics. He is also a standup Jewish comic.
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