/BY KAYLENE RUDY/ //SPECIAL FOR THE AJT//
During my recent visit to Israel I had the opportunity to observe thousands peacefully marching 12 kilometers from the city of Ma’ale Adumim to the East 1 territory in response to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s pressure to negotiate the borders of this land and the request to stop the development of this city among the East 1 territory (E1 contains the security center that is maintained by the city of Ma’ale Adumim) during the negotiations for peace.
I was overwhelmed at the amount of people that gathered from all over Israel to demonstrate their support of growth for this city. Over 15,000 came to publicly take a stand in the eyes of the world.
The demographics of the supporters were even more impressive. All ages attended, with a very high percentage within the ages of 10 to 17-years-old from all over Israel.
I spoke to several participants in the march and one student among the crowd named Efraim stated, “This march is important to me for several reasons, but most importantly this is the place I want to raise my family. I want to have seven children and this land is apart of my heritage and my children’s to come.”
Another student named Eva stated, “I am here because this city is beautiful and there are thousands that live here. I want to see my country thrive. I have many friends and family that lives here as well as even my own family one day. I must show my support to ensure this country’s growth for future generations to come.”
Several of PM Netanyahu’s cabinet Ministers and political Knesset Parliament members came to speak and show their support.
Ma’ale Adumim Mayor Benny Kasriel said that young couples who grew up in the city should not be forced to relocate elsewhere for lack of housing. “We have elderly and young, religious and secular. All are welcome here,” he said. “We know from experience that the more we cave in, the worse it gets,” Housing Minister Uri Ariel stated.
He then added, “There are those who believe that if they follow the dictates of the rest of the world, we will have peace and quiet… As housing minister, I am telling the prime minister that we are here to ensure that you keep your promise to build here.”
Ariel reminded the crowd that Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu had “stood on this exact spot” and said that the land connecting Ma’ale Adumim to Mevasseret Adumim (E1) must be developed.
“We will not go back to the Auschwitz borders,” stated Member of Knesset Ze’ev Elkin.
During my visit to Israel, spending time among the communities and talking with all the people of the land, – as an individual – it is difficult to understand why anyone would want to stop the development of this peaceful and thriving city.
Ma’ale Adumim is the very example of peaceful existence with the Palestinians that everyone claims to be working and negotiating for. Thousands of Palestinians earn a living in the city’s factories and enjoy freedom and friendships with Ma’ale Adumim citizens.
Why isn’t Secretary John Kerry supporting this city and even requesting more support from both sides of the table to help it grow as an example of the true collaboration that has already been achieved?
Many of the Palestinians that work and support their families within the Jewish communities of Israel want to foster their relationships and see them grow.
It is only those that do not have the opportunity to experience this kind of freedom and democracy that fight against it. We should expect Secretary John Kerry to bring those together and building those up, who are truly extending their hands in peace. Not dividing and stopping this growth but stimulating it.
This is what the peace process should really be about.
Kaylene Rudy is a journalist and Business Manager at the Atlanta Jewish Times, as well as Founder and President
of Americans United with Israel.