Zion Square has a colorful and complicated history. Now a diverse group of citizens is working with city officials to turn it into a ‘space of tolerance and inclusion of the other.’
In early March, a group of 50 or so Jerusalemites of different ages, political affiliations and religious persuasions met to articulate their vision for Zion Square, the central square in downtown West Jerusalem. Uniting them is their deep commitment to the vision of Jerusalem as a thriving city that derives from its history, sanctity and modern creativity.
These activists, representing a large, loose coalition of organizations, ad hoc movements and individuals, have been meeting for informal dialogue every Thursday night in Zion Square for over a year and a half, since extremist right-wing violence began to spread through downtown Jerusalem during the days of the Israel-Gaza conflict in the summer of 2014.
In response to their activism, the Jerusalem municipality has determined that, as a major component of its call for a competition for a planned redesign of the square, Zion Square will be turned into “a place that promotes connections, tolerance and mutual respect.”
The decision to brand and design the square this way was motivated in part by the July 30 stabbing of Shira Banki, a 16-year-old Jerusalem high-school student, by an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man as she walked in the annual Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade in solidarity with the LGBT community.
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