Writing in the New York Times, the architecture critic Michael Kimmelman stated that “modern Jerusalem was spared Disneyfication, first by the highborn culture of British colonialism . . . and next by Jordanian paralysis, which froze the Old City as if in amber.” But, contrary to what Kimmelman asserts, Jordan’s occupation of the city from 1948 to 1967 was anything but paralytic, including as it did the systematic destruction of synagogues and cemeteries, not to mention the expulsion of Jews. Meir Soloveichik writes:
[Kimmelman’s] words could have been written out of astonishing ignorance or of deliberate dishonesty. There is, however, another pernicious possibility: that for the New York Times, the preservation of Jerusalem is entirely consistent with the destruction of its Jewish sanctuaries and the eradication of its Jewish presence. . . .
To illustrate his point, Soloveichik takes as an example the Ḥurvah synagogue, whose name itself means “ruin” because its original structure (built in the 18th century) was destroyed by an Arab mob before it was rebuilt in the 19th century. In 1948, the Jordanians again reduced the Ḥurvah to ruins:
The Ḥurvah has been recently rebuilt; its dome gleams above the Jewish Quarter, and its interior is again one of the aesthetic wonders of the Jewish world. Meanwhile, no correction has been made to the Times’s own distortion. In the end, perhaps what bothers the purveyors of lies such as these is less the “Disneyfication” of Jerusalem and more that all of Jewish Jerusalem, through the ages, is akin to the Ḥurvah itself: it constantly rises from the ruins, thereby embodying a Jewish people that, phoenix-like, refuses to die, and eternally ascends from the ashes.
This is a miracle that raises an uncomfortable possibility: that all that Jews claim about Jerusalem—and the Jews—is true. The theological implications of this may be too terrifying for the Times, as for some of its writers and readers. And so it must be fought—not only politically, but with a steady stream of propaganda that goes so far as to pretend preposterously that one of the greatest modern acts of historical vandalism, destruction, and denial of religious rights never occurred.
In the end, there is only one Jerusalem that is eternally preserved, as if in amber: it is the Jerusalem that resides in the Jewish soul, a dream and a vision that the lies of the “paper of record” are impotent to affect, and that is the ultimate embodiment of Jewish eternity.