Op-Ed: Dancing to the King's Tune
Kevin BermeisterThe writer is a real estate entrepreneur, investor, technologist, and philanthropist. He is a major benefactor of numerous charitable organizations and was recently awarded the Yeshiva Center Leadership in Philanthropy Award, among others. He is Chairman and CEO of Brilliant Digital Entertainment, Inc. and previously developed substantial businesses in the computing, multimedia and Internet industriesm established Ozisoft, one of the first interactive multimedia companies and Australia’s largest video games distributor. Later he established the $70 million interactive Sega World Sydney theme park which was operated through a joint venture that included Sega Enterprises Japan, Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsui Corp. Kevin also developed various Internet interests including with Joltid Limited to focus on peer to peer network solutions, is board member and has been a founding investor in several successful startups including Skype. More recently he founded Jerusalem 5800 a long term planning think tank and the Jerusalem Development Fund.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s restrained agreement to construct homes in east Jerusalem is essential to the City's economic prosperity, but his intent to disarm Iran may be his Achilles heel as he intellectually balances worldwide condemnation of his domestic decisions.
His restraint may just be the 'eikev' in Ya'akov meaning the 'heel' (restraint) in the name 'Jacob' before Jacob bestowed the name Israel - 'you will rule' - on his nation state. Against the neighborhood backdrop in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, Israel’s relentless economic development demands release of more land in 'sensitive' districts.
Israel's history is littered with Kings who danced the wrong tune. Now Bibi's dance, to masters with deep pockets, is composed in response to the dominant Iranian tune of fundamental Islam intent on claiming Israel’s scalp as the crown of its insurgency.
Enemies in the neighborhood would prefer the theater of war be directed inside Israel’s borders, while naysayers, who want to divide Jerusalem and Israel at the expense of prosperity, influence the global lobby already biased by Arabian oil money.
The only reasonable tune for a Prime Minister's dance would be one that promotes and permits building, especially in areas that would correct past planning errors imposed by long forgotten politicians in the capital city. Housing for its ballooning immigrant population, hotels to accommodate growth in tourism and infrastructure including roads, trains, airports and seaports.
This financial opportunity is inherently ethical, because the GDP contribution from construction and tourism also demands a desired proportion of unskilled labor from the widest human resource footprint.
Jerusalem could be on a track to become a world city, the principal hub of tourism to the future Middle East. Its metropolitan population is expected to double by 2030 and triple by 2050. Jerusalem has a new light rail and in a few years the train from Tel Aviv will shuttle people to and from the ancient city. The new convention and business district is approved, construction has commenced and government is coordinated to attract and accommodate tourists in Jerusalem’s center.
Muslim, Christian and Jewish constituents will benefit as a result and no amount of political rhetoric will surpass the fundamental necessity to eradicate poverty and through it the insurgencies that thrive.
Throughout history the tide of Israel’s opposition ebbed and flowed, but we are living in remarkable times when the power of the opposition, though not its noise, has been substantially reduced. Israel can finally stand firmly against the waves that pound against it. The more it sinks its roots in buildings, construction, substantial infrastructure and ingenious technologies that spread tentacles the world over, the more Israel becomes a stable anchor, an independent force and a recognized beacon.
This is not a time for tenuous gestures. Bibi must identify the importance of this moment to act dominantly and cohesively to prioritize Jerusalem and Israel's economic future over the impending doomsday rhetoric of the Iranian lunatic lobby.
Jerusalem is seriously affected by east-west politics that have crippled its development over the past 65 years. Prime Minister Netanyahu must decide whether he will dance to the tune of domestic policy favoring Jerusalem or to the tune of the foreign threat.
With the Jerusalem Mayoral election looming and a probable change of leadership, we can only hope that Bibi and his puppet Mayor will dance the right tune and if he doesn’t, that his coalition will be cut short and a new Prime Minister elected to dance the King's tune.
When Israel faced the Assyrians, King Hezekiah was worried his primary Minister Shebna, who favored an alliance with Egypt against Assyria, would turn his followers against the King and Israel would be defeated. The Assyrians killed Shebna and a plague, perhaps food poisoning, wiped out 185,000 in the Assyrian camp. They returned home before they attacked Israel.
King Hezekiah continued his task of building Jerusalem.
Notwithstanding the myriad subversive insurgent agendas Jews of the world may possess from time-to-time – as anyone will attest, “three Jews, four opinions” – Israel the Jewish nation, not the state, has one preeminent insurgency. This insurgency envisages a world peace that also accommodates Jewish independence and an unrestricted ability to celebrate its culture.
However, Israel the Jewish state, a concept its most fundamental opponents can never accept, highlights the opponent's own bigoted insurgency and at the opposite extreme.
Jewish orthodoxy’s response: Rebuild Jerusalem, assemble the righteous and allow Jerusalem to blossom as a city on a hill whose rays illuminate the darkness of so many, including the inhabitants of its neighboring Middle Eastern capital cities still yearning to breathe free.