Monday, December 3, 2012

Can We Substitute for Jerusalem? Pretty Pretty Please?

It's December 1947. The UN General Assembly has just adopted its resolution about the partitioning of Mandatory Palestine into three parts: a state for the Jews, a state for the Arabs, and Jerusalem and Bethlehem to be internationalized. The good burghers of Herzliya see a golden opportunity for their town, and they send off a proposal to the Jewish Agency, the effective government of the nascent Jewish state. Signed by one B.Z. Michaeli, the head of the local council, it starts off in a solemn but businesslike matter: "With great care and humility, aware of the gravity of the issue, in all due respect, we would like to suggest that our town be the capital of the new Jewish State."

Then there's a hurried retreat: "Of course the capital must be Jerusalem, our eternal capital and the city of our kings and Temple. If I come to speak of the capital, it's only as a temporary measure, specifically temporary, until the day when Jerusalem takes its rightful place..."

But still, the letter continues, look, if it can't be Jerusalem, Herzliya really would be a great alternative. We paraphrase the ensuing points:

1. We're named after Herzl!
2. We're in a quiet area, and even during the events [of 1936-39] there were no significant security issues here.
3. The city: Herzliya is outside the hustle and bustle of Tel Aviv, only a 20-minute ride. We're not even far from Jerusalem - 80 minutes - in case some institutions do remain there.
4. We're a progressive place, and various political factions live here with no tension.
5. There are open areas which could serve for future development.
6. A brief history: founded in 1924, four neighborhoods, lots of growth underway, we've got a school, nurserys, two banks, a labor committee, a water company; the town's budget in 1947 was 8,000 Pounds.

We're really serious about this. Did I mention Theodore Herzl?

Signed,
B.Z. Michaeli

Apparently no-one ever paid much attention. The consolation prize, however, seems to be that half a century later Herzliya became, and perhaps remains, the epi-center of Israel's large hi-tech industry. So also a capital of sorts.

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