The Jerusalem cultural landscape has been enhanced with a new addition: The Gush Katif Museum.
In its first day of operation, it drew 500 visitors - well beyond expectations. Surprisingly, most of them were not former Gush Katif residents, but virtually of all them were religious. "Many tourists, Americans, Jerusalemites and residents of Yesha [Judea and Samaria] arrived," said a pleased Miriam Gottlieb, curator and director of the fledgling museum, "but we want to spread out to other sectors as well."
The museum, located not far from the Machaneh Yehuda open market in downtown Jerusalem, seeks to eternalize the memory of Gush Katif. "The Yamit region towns [in northern Sinai, which were destroyed in 1982 in accordance with the peace treaty with Egypt] have been forgotten," Miriam said. "Who even remembers the names of the towns there? We don't want the same to happen with Gush Katif. Gush Katif will be in the heart of Israeli society."
"We know that publicity is now our main thing," Miriam added. "Yesterday we had a feature on Channel Two, [Jerusalem mayoral candidate] Nir Barkat's people have called us to arrange a visit, and there is interest. We're very optimistic."
The museum features vidoes, photos, artwork and information on many aspects of Gush Katif, including its rich Jewish history going back 3,000 years, the return of Jewish life in the 1970s and its growth into a block of thriving communities, its worldwide agricultural economy, its rich educational and Torah networks, and more.
"We Want to Strengthen"
"Some visitors thought that we should be a bit more militant," Miriam said. "They felt that we should display the numbers of unemployed, all the government's broken promises, and the like. We do have an impressive room with some stark photos of the actual expulsion, but in general our goal is not to weaken, but rather to strengthen. We are not blurring over the difficult reality we face, but we want to give a positive sense of what life in Gush Katif was like."
The museum, on Shaarei Tzedek St. between Jaffa Rd. and Agripas St., is open from 1 to 8 PM on weekdays, and from 9-1 on Friday mornings. Admission is free. The phone number: 02-625-5456, and the email address is <firstname.lastname@example.org>.