Six months of ICPHH planning with Culture Minister Miri Regev (shown left) and others, thanks to major allocations from Regev’s ministry and the Jerusalem Development Authority, came together during the Passover holiday break for a first ever full day of performances and tours on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.
Regev, with whom ICPHH’s Israel co-chair Jeff Daube has been working closely for years to facilitate Jewish presence and activity on the geostrategic Mount of Olives, said she was so delighted with the outcome that she expects to schedule this combination festive celebration and education opportunity annually.
ZOA Israel with ICPHH, the International Committee for the Preservation of Har Hazeitim, have been steadily bringing about changes—not just so visitors can frequent the mountain’s historical sites and holy Jewish cemetery in safety, but to put the lie to Arab fictionalizing of its Jewish connection as they go about trying to wrest control from Israel, for starters, in eastern Jerusalem.
Proof of such a need is in the latest UNESCO draft resolution, reviving a years old libelous claim about “Jewish fake graves” Israel has planted on the Mount of Olives and in other “Muslim [sic] cemeteries.”
The resolution, which also erases the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and Western Wall, was approved by 33 states, including France, Russia, Spain and Sweden.
As if to answer the UNESCO challenge, at least three thousand visitors, according to police estimates, swarmed the all-day Mount of Olives event, responding enthusiastically to the entertainers and tours (one shown above at the undeniably Jewish cemetery). Regev’s calls for Israeli and world Jewry to proclaim the mountain’s central importance, both as a repository of our shared national past and integral to shaping a shared national future, received special applause.
Coverage in Hebrew with video is viewable here. Besides Regev, concert presenters and attendees included ICPHH U.S. representative Rabbi Pesach Lerner and Israel co-chair Harvey Schwartz (in center photo with Regev and Schwartz’s co-chair, ZOA Israel Director Daube), Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Moshe Leon (ICPHH ally Mayor Nir Barkat was overseas), Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, and ZOA friend and eastern Jerusalem resident Simon Falic (bottom right, seated next to Regev).
As with the two previous concerts on the Mount of Olives, Daube likened the event to former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s Central Park rescue strategy, which in the mid-1990s had included offering regular attractions there to draw public interest. In Israel, Daube refers to his committee’s Mount of Olives revival strategy as Jew-lianizing.