Let's Talk 2000
"The heartbeat of 2000 A.D. from cyberspace"
March 15, 1997, Volume 3, Issue 5, a bi-weekly bulletin
Topics covered in this issue:
The Millennium Doctor Speaks
News from the Field:
Talk from the Forum:
New Millennial Sites:
The Millennium Doctor Speaks:
the pulse of 2000 A.D."
With Easter less than two weeks away, this issue of "Let's Talk 2000." features Holy Land 2000 news. Our lead feature reports on the appointment of Dr. Hanan Ashrawi as Commissioner of Bethlehem 2000.
Ashrawi is considered the most recognized and articulate voice in the Middle
East peace process. She rose to fame during the 1991 Madrid peace conference
by upstaging her Israeli counterpart, sound-bite master Bibi Netanyahu.
TV audiences in the U.S. were wowed by this chain-smoking English literature
lecturer, who seemed to put a human face on the plight of the Palestinians.
By appointing Ashrawi, it appears Arafat has cemented his long-standing
intention to link "Peace on Earth" in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago
to his struggle for peace with Israel by 2000. For a preview of the public
poise and powerful rhetoric Ashrawi offers, check out http://www.mojones.com:80/mother_jones/MA93/amrani.html
or download a movie clip from: http://www.oneworld.org:80/tve/medmedia/ashrawi.html
Meanwhile, the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians continues to escalate
this week. With Israeli bulldozers posed to break ground tomorrow for a
new Jewish settlement on the north side of Bethlehem, Arafat turned today
to foreign diplomats to "save the peace process." He claimed the
unilateral decision to build this Jewish neighbor of 6,500 in the West Bank
was as a cover "to build hotels there in preparation for Bethlehem's
year 2000 events, with the aim of replacing Bethlehem with the new settlement."
Like the Jerusalem tunnel episode of last September, Israeli military and
bulldozers in south Jerusalem this week could be the prelude to more violence,
which will further undermine plans to boost trade and tourism in the Holy
Land as we approach 2000.
Our second feature looks at the Catholic central committee for the Great
Jubilee 2000, which met this past week at the Vatican. Since January, in
separate visits to the Vatican, both Netanyahu and Arafat have invited the
pope to come to the Holy Land for 2000. Wisely, it appears the pope is holding
off on his millennium travel plans until negotiations on the final status
of Jerusalem move forward.
Meanwhile, up in Nazareth, the Israeli government has plans to pump up Nazareth
as a millennial tourist attraction. Our "Talk from the Forum"
posts a March/April 1996 Challenge magazine article, asking "Nazareth
2000: Who benefits?" The dynamics between Jews and Arabs is a bit different
up in the Galilee, as Arabs are citizens of Israel. Rather than confrontation
as in Bethlehem, there is a great deal of coordination between the Arab
municipality and the government of Israel. But Challenge magazine's
questions are well taken. Unfortunately, in a land where there is so much
unrest between Arab and Jews, any millennium preparations run the risk of
Our web section points to a recent full-length feature by a Jerusalem correspondent
on the "Journey of the Magi 2000." This five-month Magi
mystery tour through the Middle East promises to arrive in Israel/Palestine
by December 1999. It's being billed as the lead event of Holy Land 2000,
a 16-month festival to celebrate Christ's 2,000th jubilee. From what is
happening right now in the Middle East, it appears their journey into the
third millennium might be as fraught with darkness, doubt and dangerous
kings as the trek the first Magi took.
I would be interested, especially from our Middle East readers, as to your
response to any of our news features on the Holy Land. I remember a recent
column giving a view of the millennium from the Arab world drew more response
than anything in a long time. Feel free to post your impressions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our next issue takes a look at the "1,000 Days Till 2000" push.
If you got news related to this or have a project which has tagged the April
6 milestone to the millennium, post us a note at email@example.com.
News from the Field:
"Here is the
latest news on year 2000 efforts."
BETHLEHEM 2000 COMMISSIONER APPOINTED
In a bid to retain European Union support for "Bethlehem 2000"
commemorations, President Yasser Arafat recently appointed his Minister
of Higher Education, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, as commissioner of the international
committee of Bethlehem 2000.
Upon her appointment in February, Ashrawi, a non-practicing Anglican, said
that "Bethlehem 2000 will be a historical turning point for humanity."
In addition to it's religious significance as Christ's jubilee, Ashrawi
underscored its historic importance as the starting point for an
independent Palestinian state in 1999, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Ashrawi indicated that Arafat has begun to form an international committee
for "Bethlehem 2000," comprised of religious, political and intellectual
leaders. These world leaders, including the pope, would be invited to join
Arafat for the millennial celebrations in the city of Christ's birth.
Up until mid-January, "Bethlehem 2000" was comprised of three
local area committees which had very little contact, plus a non-functioning
ministrial commitee of the Palestianian Authority. Bethlehem locals hope
this reorganization, sealed with Ashrawi's appointment, might reflect a
shift from "political" to "professional" decision-making
in millennium preparations.
Ashrawi promptly signed an agreement with the United Nations Development
Program (UNDP), delivering US$ 59,000 of a $200,000 grant to the "Bethlehem
2000" committee. This steering committee will carry out the social,
cultural and technical activities, in addition to the renovations of Manger
Square and other projects in Bethlehem, in preparation for the 3rd millennium
Ashrawi is the author of the 1995 Simon and Schuster book, This Side of
Peace, which offers an insider's account of the secret channels of negotiations
which led to the Oslo peace accords, as well as the challenges her people
now face in their struggle to build a viable homeland. Source: firstname.lastname@example.org.
JUBILEE COMMITTEE MEETS AT VATICAN
The Roman Catholic central committee of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000
held its third general assembly at the Vatican this past week. French Cardinal
Roger Etchegaray opened the session on March 11th. The assembly looked at
the activity of various national committees, the work plans of its various
commissions for this next year and a review of the schedule of Catholic
celebrations to welcome the third millennium.
Highlights of the work towards the Great Jubilee 2000 over the past year
--the formation of national jubilee committees in more than 100 countries
around the world.
--the release of the "Jubilee Year 2000" logo on five continents.
--the roll out of the full-color, quarterly "Tertium Millennium"
magazine by the Mass Media Committee. (subscriptions for 1997 are US $30,
Comitato Centrale del Grande Giubileo dell' Anno 2000, Piazza della Citta
9, 00193, Rome, Italy).
Since A.D. 1300, Catholics have celebrated twenty-five Holy Years, usually
at quarter-century marks. None of them, however, have witnessed such a concerted
effort as compared to the preparations for the 2,000th jubilee of Christ.
For more information, the European wing of the Artistic/Cultural Commission
has opened a Holy Year Catholic web site: http://www.europart.it/jubilaeum/jubilee.html.
Talk from the Forum:
"Here is a recap
of recent conversations"
NAZARETH 2000: WHO WILL BENEFIT?
by Michal Schwartz
As Christian cities prepare for the second millennium anniversary of the
birth of Christ, the Israeli Ministry of Tourism is in the process of adopting
a grand project entitled "Nazareth 2000." This project, if approved,
would prepare Nazareth to compete with Rome for the expected wave of Christian
tourism. Naturally, it has inspired great expectations among citizens of
Nazareth, the only Arab city in the country, whose story to this day does
not differ from that of any other Arab village or town in Israel.
Believed to be the city where Jesus spent his youth, few cities can match
Nazareth for tourism potential. Yet for tourists, guides, and bus drivers
alike, an actual visit to Nazareth is known to be one big nightmare. The
lack of roads and parking lots compels travelers to begin and end their
tour with a quick visit to the Church of the Annunciation, where, according
to Roman Catholic tradition, Gabriel brought Mary the tiddings of Jesus'
City infrastructure in Nazareth is practically non-existent; there are no
sport or recreation centers; the main commercial road is perpetually blocked
by traffic jams; and the city's "industry" consists of nothing
more than a few garages and sweatshops sprawled across 70 dunams [1 dunam=
1/4 acre] at the city's center. For visitors, there are only five B-grade
hotels (400 rooms each) and five hostels (150 rooms each). Most tourists,
therefore, prefer to stay at the well-developed resort in nearby Tiberias.
The neglect of Nazareth has been part of a continued policy to suppress
economic development of Arab-populated areas, Moslem and Christian alike,
while government resources are generously channeled into development of
Jewish cities to foster the "Judaization of the Galilee." In the
late fifties the government confiscated thousands of dunams from Nazareth
and surrounding Arab villages for the construction of (Jewish) Upper Nazareth,
established in 1963. During the Gulf War in 1991, an additional 7,300 dunnams
were annexed to Upper Nazareth from the neighboring villages of Reineh,
Kuft Kanna, Mashehad, and Ein Mahel; of those, 1,128 dunams were confiscated.
The result today, with a population of 60,000, Nazareth is still confined
to a master city plan adopted in 1942. Designed during the British Mandate,
this plan is fit for a population of no more than 20,000. The Nazareth municipality
more recently presented a detailed request for $167,000 over five years
of development, government response to this request has been indefinitely
"Nazareth 2000," however, is meant to change all of this and turn
the deteriorating city into one of the jewels in Israel's crown of tourism.
The idea is to use the date 2000 to boost the development of Nazareth was
put forth in the early nineties by the cities late mayor, Tawfiq Ziad, and
his deputy, Ramez Jeraisi. The project, entitled "Jesus in the Year
2000," was prepared by municipal experts and presented to the (then
Likud) government in 1991. The plan aroused Labor's interest as a vehicle
to win Arab votes in the 1992 elections; promises to implement the plan
would win Nazareth's support. By verbally promoting this project, Labor
convinced Ziad's party (The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) to
pledge its support for Labor should Labor come into power. In addition,
the project complimented Labor's understanding of tourism as one of the
world's most prosperous future industries.
The Importance of Tourism
Globally, the tourism industry has reached a profit of $3.4 trillion. The
total number of tourism workers worldwide is 212 million. The projected
rise over the next decade is to 338 workers with a profit of $8.2 trillon.
Israel too is competing for its share in the bonanza. On July 23, 1995,
the Israeli government decided to invest $4.5 billion in tourism over the
next ten years. The expected four million tourists each year would bring
an annual income of $2.3 billion, turning tourism into Israel's biggest
It is not surprising that Nazareth is meant to play a central role in these
plans. Every year, some 850,000 tourists (half of all tourists in Israel)
pass through the city. In the year 2000, 2.1 million tourists are expected
to visit Nazareth. Preparing for the underdeveloped city to accommodate
such an influx necessitates a big investment.
The late Prime Minister Rabin was well aware of the importance of tourism,
both economically and politically. "Ha'aretz (24.8.94) quoted him as
saying that "tourism helps to make Israeli policy understood by the
international public," while Peres added that "tourism will be
one of the most important elements in making the peace policy effective,
alongside with agriculture and industry."
These considerations were elaborated upon by David Harnick, General Director
of the Israeli Governmental Tourism Company, and director of "Nazareth
2000." In an interview with "Challenge" (22.10.95), he confided
that "there is strong competition between Nazareth and the Europeans
holy cities over the year 2000 tourists, and Israel is racing time to assure
its profit. We estimate our income from tourism in the coming decade to
be a billion dollars."
Government controls planning
The initial purpose of the 2000 plan was to stimulate local development
and openings in the Arab private sector. Soon after its proposal, however,
the project was given the "bear hug" of Israel's Ministry of Tourism.
The name was changed to "Nazareth 2000," and David Harnik (of
the Ministry of Tourism) was appointed project director. Nazareth's acting
mayor Ramez Jeraisi is the only Arab on the managerial committee, the rest
of which consists of representatives from the ministries of Housing, Interior,
Transportation, the Israel Land Authority and the Bureau of the Prime Minister
(otherwise known as the Secret Security.) Given the green light in 1993,
"tourism studies were conducted, plans were submitted, steering committees
established and task forces assembled. By 1994, the finishing touches were
put on the overall tourism plan." (From "Eretz," the Israeli
Geographic Magazine, August 1995).
Control over project funds was thus taken out of municipal hands and placed
in the hands of various ministries represented in the managerial committee.
If the project is approved, the government will invest $96 million in Nazareth
over the next four years. (According to municipality spokesperson Ramzi
Hakim, government approval was stalled during Rabin's period in office,
but David Harnik was very optimistic that Nazareth 2000 will be adopted
in January 1996).
If the ministries control the budgets, they also control who is hired for
city projects. Primary work has already begun, and the budget money is going
primarily to outside Jewish architects and contractors; even the artists
designing trilingual road signs for Project 2000 are Jewish Israelis. When
asked about the dearth of Arab professionals in the project, David Harnik
responded that "we chose our people according to professional, not
With so much money flowing outside the city, the meager sum actually reaching
the Nazareth municipality cannot cover project expenses, and at present,
the 2000 project only adds to the existing financial burden. In October,
1995, a municipal Arabic publication titled Al-Nastra ran the following
headlines: "Ministry of Interior evades giving grants, avoids allocating
development budgets for all but roads, leading to budget crisis"; "Municipality
declares financial emergency, cuts all expenses to minimum..."
Municipality spokesperson Hakim explains that Nazareth 2000 would cost at
least $166 million for road development only, whereas development of the
city as a tourist center would necessitate at least $332 million. At the
moment, the municipality must finance the project from its shrinking development
budget (23 million shekels for 1995), because the government budget for
road development is not sufficient. "There is one thing we cannot do,"
he adds. "No matter how hard we try, we cannot postpone the year 2000.
If the government doesn't approve Nazareth 2000 in the near future, the
whole project could go down."
Economic & Geographic suffocation
Not only is the Nazareth municipality in dire straits but private Arab investors
are finding themselves shut out of the project entirely. The plan pending
government approval anticipates an additional investment of some $130 million
by the private sector. The problem, as Hakim puts it, is that "nowhere
in the country can one find Arab investors with enough money to compete
for a place here." In fact, the few native Nazarene investors who are
building hotels are forced to seek out Jewish partners with capital. In
the private sector as well, investors are chosen "by professional,
not national criteria." Thus the division of labor is clear: Nazareth
natives own the land, while outside investors own the capital and will gain
most of the profit. Such is the situation in Har Kfitsa, a large compound
at the southern entrance to Nazareth, where the Israeli Land Authority has
approved the construction of 1,000 hotel rooms in cooperation with "Africa-Israel
Estate." Wadi Tanous (a Nazarene partner), and French-owned Novotel.
But when Tanous proposed to build a mall/commercial center inside Nazareth,
he was rejected by the Ministry of the Interior. The reason is clear to
all: not long ago, Upper Nazareth completed a huge mall replete with shops,
cinemas, discotheques, etc. This mall was built not in Upper Nazareth but
on the border of Nazareth's city center, on land confiscated from Nazareth
and annexed to Upper Nazareth. Because of its location, the majority of
the mall's customers are Arab Nazarenes. Two things are obvious here: firstly,
Arab customers from Nazareth are being co-opted by Upper Nazareth business,
and secondly, unlike Nazareth, Upper Nazareth has pull in the Interior Ministry,
where city planning projects are approved.
In 1995, the Ministry of the Interior rejected a proposal to construct a
central bus station in Nazareth. Today, public transportation passes through
the Arab city, but the central bus station is located in Upper Nazareth.
The same ministry also rejected a project initiated by the Nazareth municipality
for foreign investment in a new hotel. Meanwhile, Upper Nazareth is constructing
three new hotels (1220 rooms altogether) without any obstacles from the
Interior. Says a source in the Nazareth municipality, "this is a policy
of economic suffocation of Nazareth for the benefit of Upper Nazareth."
Even more disquieting is the huge municipality building being constructed
in Upper Nazareth (6,000 square meters, $5 million), the size of which is
totally disproportionate to the town's population of 42,000. The location
right on the Nazareth border (not far from the mall), and adjacent to another
menacing construction: a $33 million judicial center being built by the
Ministry of Justice, for all levels of courts, on a compound of 20 dunams.
Until now, judiciary services had been located in Nazareth, a district capital
since the British Mandate.
With government encouragement, Upper Nazareth saw unprecedented growth over
the last four years. Because of Russian immigration, its population has
increased by 70% (25,000 - 43,000 people) and is still growing. Engineer
Yusef Marjia believes that "the construction of such a disproportionately
huge municipality for a city of this size on the border of Nazareth, and
the transferring of governmental buildings from Nazareth to Upper Nazareth
point to a long range plan: when Upper Nazareth reaches a population of
100,000 it will annex Nazareth into its municipal borders."
No new priorities
Whoever has visited Nazareth with its beautiful churches, Eastern markets,
Arab buildings and the breathtaking view form its hills knows that it can
easily turn from a deteriorating town into a jewel of tourism; it would
only take a change of priorities from the government, which has done its
best so far to develop Upper Nazareth at Nazareth's expense. Unfortunately,
however, the "Nazareth 2000" project has not empowered the Nazareth
municipality; on the contrary, it is in fact run by the Labor party, through
the Ministry of Tourism. Furthermore, Labor has transformed the project
into a propaganda tool in its quest for Arab votes.
This, plus unprecedented government investment in the geographic expansion
of Upper Nazareth, has re-ignited old fears that Arab Nazareth will be annexed
by Jewish Israelis. Nazarenes fear that their city will become an Israeli
tourist site, the way Jaffa has become a Tel Aviv tourist resort and the
Palestinian Old City of Jerusalem has been annexed and swallowed by Israeli
Jerusalem. Their fears are not without foundation; such intentions were
explicitly expressed in as far back as 1976 by Yisrael Koenig, former District
Commissioner of the North, and have since been adopted by Menahem Ariav,
present (Labor) mayor of Upper Nazareth.
Nazareth, the city which voiced Palestinian democratic and national demands
after the establishment of the Democratic Front of Nazareth in 1977, is
becoming a bonus to Israeli and foreign investors, while Nazareth Arabs
are becoming a cheap labor force in the Israeli Tourism industry. While
some Arabs are getting a few crumbs, the majority, relegated to the realm
of tourist "folklore," are losing their only city in Israel. If
this is the price that Arabs in Israel must pay for their trust in the Labor
party, and for the illusion that Labor has ceased to implement racist programs,
it is indeed a very heavy price.
Copyright 1996 by Challenge Magazine. Posted with permission.
Challenge is a Jerusalem-based bimonthly English-language magazine
written by Israelis, Palestinians and others, for the international community
concerned with a just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Challenge
is an independent, nonpartisan publication which advocates a two-state solution
to the conflict. Annual Subscription rates: US $30, UK 20, or local NIS
75. Checks in these currencies can be made payable to: Challenge, P.O. Box
4199, Jaffa 61411, Israel. Telephone and fax: +972-2-792270.
New Millennial Sites:
new sites in cyberspace"
JOURNEY OF THE MAGI 2000: A pilgrimage of peace in the Middle
Here is a San Francisco Examiner feature on how a California professor is
tackling barriers to millennial re-enactment of the Middle East journey
which launched the first millennium.
NCCB 2000:The U.S. Catholic web site of the Jubilee Year 2000
The National Conference of Catholic Bishops/U.S. Conference have opened
an official web site on the preparation for and celebration of the Jubilee
Year in the United States. News, documents and program descriptions are
"Your link to
the third millennium"
Talk 2000 Forum Home Page: http://hcol.humberc.on.ca/talk2000.htm
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Publisher: Robin Wainwright
Jay Gary, aka The Millennium Doctor
Publication keywords: media, millennium, events
author, The Star of 2000
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