We should thank Yaakov Eilon. The most eloquent and professional news anchor in Israel today, he unintentionally revealed the over-inflated balloon that is Jerusalem. He, of all people, always careful not to reveal his views, contributed through his resignation from Channel 10 to a revelation: Jerusalem, the united eternal capital, is riddled with lies.
No, he had no hidden motive. He resigned because a news anchor cannot sit alone in his studio, isolated and far away from his editors, and still do his job properly. But yes, with his resignation, Eilon proved the extent of Israel's ridiculous and artificial Jerusalem ritual. The capital's status cannot be molded only by laws. Even if 100 news anchors broadcast nightly from studios in the capital, it will remain the most problematic city in Israel. A commercial TV station cannot be told where to house its studios any more than a newspaper or bank can be told where to locate their facilities.
But the regulator dictates that these studios must be in Jerusalem - with Channel 2 News absurdly expanding the boundary to Neve Ilan, west of the capital. Even the most statesmanlike of anchors, like our Yaakov, understood that his daily drive up Route 1 would contribute nothing to our capital's standing. He also knows that most of the lawmakers who passed various laws in Jerusalem make sure to flee the city on the weekends for their homes in greater Tel Aviv, without anyone asking why. Israel has such little faith and confidence in its capital that it needs laws and regulators to support it.
There are many artificial capitals in the world that were established by order of a ruler or by dint of circumstance. The sleepy town of Bonn was the capital of West Germany for decades, far from its truly main cities. The Hague is not the true capital of the Netherlands; Ankara is not the beating heart of Turkey; neither is Brasilia in Brazil, nor Astana in Kazakhstan, nor Yaounde in Cameroon. Jerusalem is not much different. It is not Israel's most important city, nor its economic or cultural center. But in contrast to other capitals, Jerusalem does not have many fans worldwide: There is not one country in the world which recognizes it as Israel's capital.
We can of course continue playing Jerusalem games with ourselves. What matters is not what non-Jews say - all the embassies are in Tel Aviv. It's what the Jews do: Eilon's successor will indeed broadcast from Jerusalem.
We could continue to thumb our nose at the world, as we are used to doing, if only most Israelis saw Jerusalem as the center of their lives. But for anyone other than the ultra-Orthodox, the religious Zionists and the immigrants from America, Jerusalem has become in recent years a place Israelis mainly stay away from.
And rightly so. Its poverty, dirt and neglect shout from afar. Some of its poor have been living in tents in the city's main park for months now, out in the cold, and the municipality cuts off their electricity. There is no other place where society's wounds are so gaping and severe, with all its inherent tensions: between secular and religious people, Mizrahim and Ashkenazim, Jews and Arabs. But above all, over the skies of Jerusalem there flies a black flag of discrimination and occupation. There is no other city where these are so obvious, with the raging gap between Jewish and Palestinian neighborhoods, with Border Police on every corner, with shocking infringements on freedom of worship, with settlers pushing Palestinians out of their neighborhoods, with coexistence that is really mono-existence - for the Jews.
Israelis have no reason to be proud of today's Jerusalem. Even its spectacular beauty and thrilling history have been blurred over the years by the ugliness of discrimination and occupation - which no Old City walls, illuminated in glowing light, can hide.
Yaakov Eilon will no longer travel to Jerusalem, and as such we have lost a brilliant anchor. But let's admit the truth: If the city was different - just, free, enlightened and more beautiful - perhaps Eilon would move there of his own free will, without any law, and with his entire news department.
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