On Saturday, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad threw down the gauntlet. Speaking to Christian pilgrims during Easter celebrations in Bethlehem, he vowed that Israel's capital would be divided again within 12 months.
"Next year," Fayyad said, "we shall celebrate in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in east Jerusalem, capital of the Palestinian state." Then, as if to underline the point, he added that "our people, joined by all humanity, will celebrate the creation of the independent Palestinian state on all 1967 borders – a state whose capital shall be Jerusalem."
It would of course be easy to dismiss Fayyad's remarks as more of the same tired old rhetoric. After all, he isn't the first Palestinian leader to cast a covetous eye on the jewel that is Jewish Jerusalem, so why should we take his bluster any more seriously than that of his predecessors?
Yet as the recent international uproar over the capital made clear, this time things might just be different. Never before, it seems, has the simple act of building Jewish housing come under such withering criticism from an American administration, nor has the pressure ever been greater to impose a freeze on Jewish life in the city.
Clearly, the battle lines over Jerusalem's future have been drawn, and the last thing we can afford to do is to adopt a sense of complacency. Now is the time for each of us to stand up and join the struggle to keep Jerusalem safe and under Israeli control.
FOR THOSE of you who cherish the Holy City as I do and wish to see it remain strong and united, here are a few simple and practical things that you can do to help. They are what I have referred to in the past as the "Seven 'P's" of Jewish activism:
1. Point and click – The first task in any campaign is to know what you are fighting for. We need to better educate ourselves and our communities about Jerusalem and its 3,000 years of Jewish history, so that we can silence the critics with facts and reason. The Internet provides a range of useful resources such as OneJerusalem.org and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (www.jcpa.org). Visit such sites and recommend them to friends.
2. Publish your views – Once you have a better handle on the facts, don't hesitate to speak out on Jerusalem's behalf. Reach for your pen or keyboard and start writing letters to the editor of your local paper, or talkbacks to on-line articles. Help spread the message that a united Jerusalem under Israeli control has widespread and vocal support.
3. Protest media bias – The mainstream media consistently distort Jerusalem's past and present with the aim of trying to determine its future. We need to counter the lies and misrepresentations whenever and wherever they appear. If you see an article that labels Jerusalem as "occupied," contact the editor and let him know what you think. For resources and ideas on combating media bias, check out Honest Reporting, www.honestreporting.com, and CAMERA, www.camera.org.
4. Provide assistance – If you can afford to provide financial support, there are many worthwhile organizations working to expand the Jewish presence in all parts of Jerusalem, such as Beit Orot, Ateret Cohanim, the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund and the City of David Foundation. Sending money, even in small sums, is a tangible and meaningful way of strengthening Israel's hold on the Holy City.
5. Pressure representatives – Contact your local representatives and congressmen, and make your voice heard. Urge elected officials to publicly express support for keeping Jerusalem united and under Israeli control.
6.Pay a visit – If you love Jerusalem, make sure you visit it frequently. Walking through the streets, visiting the sites and taking in the atmosphere will underline your commitment and reenergize your passion for this extraordinary city.7. Pray for protection – In times of distress, the Jewish people have always turned to our Creator as a source of strength. No prayer ever goes to waste, so regardless of your level of observance, consider adding a plea for Jerusalem to your regular (or even irregular) prayer regimen. Now more than ever, we need to appeal for divine protection for Jerusalem, and to plead with God not to take this precious gift away.
THE COMING months may prove critical in determining the future of Israel's capital, as pressure is sure to mount on the Jewish state to make still more concessions. We cannot and must not sit back and passively watch events unfold. Each of us has a role to play, and each of us can do something to ensure that Jerusalem is never divided again.
So stop yelling at the television set or tossing the remote control, and start translating all that passion into concrete action. Whatever it is, do something – anything! – to keep Jerusalem from slipping away.