Disney Supports New Solution to Status of Jerusalem
Jerusalem (JFP)--When U.S. peace negotiator Dennis Ross was asked
by reporters, immediately following the conclusion of the grueling
Hebron accord, where his next destination would be, the weary
diplomat answered "I want to go to Disneyland." Most observers
understood this to be nothing more than a wish for well-deserved
relaxation from the exhausting demands of Middle East diplomacy.
However, sources close to the Netanyahu government have now let
it slip that Ross's words were actually a veiled hint at a possible
solution to the next, most difficult stage, in the implementation of
the peace process, the formidable discussions regarding the final
status of Jerusalem. A potential breakthrough in the anticipated
impasse may now have been reached as a result of an unexpected
offer from the Disney corporation.
Although all parties concerned insist that the final arrangements will
have to be settled through direct negotiations between the involved
parties, the preliminary details are as follows:
The Old City of Jerusalem will be leased for an undetermined length of
time to the Disney corporation, who will turn it into a religious theme
park that will tentatively be called "Holy Land." The park will be
subdivided into "Jewish Land," "Christian Land" and "Muslim Land," with
the area of each coinciding roughly with the extent of Old Jerusalem's
present religious "quarters."
Precise blueprints for the park have of course not been finalised, but
the Disney planners, speaking off the record, were visibly enthusiastic
about the potential for a series of mechanical rides and roller
coasters based on appropriate themes. "We have already produced outlines
of a simulation in which visitors, drive along on tracks, will retrace
the steps of the High Priest through the ancient Temple, culminating in
a special surprise in the Holy of Holies." A similar ride has been
devised for the Via Dolorosa, following the stations of the cross.
The greatest excitement is being generated by the projected
"Muhammad's Night Journey" ride which will be based on the Muslim
prophet's ascent on the steed Buraq through the heavens from the
Officials of the Israeli government were understandably reluctant about
confirming the above plans. However one spokesman, Michael
Ma'oz of the Foreign Ministry, agreed to discuss some of the issues
involved, stressing that none of these statements were, at this moment,
more than distant speculations.
When asked about likely opposition from Israel's powerful Orthodox
parties, Ma'oz replied that this appears to be less of a problem than
previously feared. Disney has agreed to make generous contributions to a
number of yeshivahs and other religious institutions. "Many
ultra-Orthodox seem quite pleased by the prospect that they can get
paid in dollars just for walking around in their traditional clothing.
In fact," said Ma'oz, "the rabbis were generally less concerned with the
content of the park, which their own people would be unlikely to visit,
than with receiving assurances that the Disney folks will not allow the
inclusion of any "Reform Street" or "Conservative Square" (A Disney
representative did however suggest that non-Orthodox neighbourhoods
might be included in prospective satellite parks outside of Israel).
Asked whether this would contradict Prime Minister Netanyahu's
pre-election commitment to an eternally united Israeli Jerusalem,
Mr. Ma'oz muttered an obscure comment about Pinocchio's nose,
and proceeded to point out how "Egged"'s proposed new combined
monorail and roller-coaster would provide welcome relief from the
capital's traffic congestion.
A representative of the Jerusalem Waqf, `Adan al-Duq, was visibly
upset when approached with questions about the alleged plan.
However, he too acknowledged that the anticipated antagonism
from fundamentalist circles would probably not materialise.
"The Disney people appear to have learned their lesson from the Aladdin
fiasco. They were very reasonable about withdrawing their original
suggestion about attaching mouse-ears to the Dome of the
Rock, and will definitely not be opening any new tunnels. Also, a
private agreement may have been reached with President Arafat." Mr.
al-Duq was reluctant to go into detail, but rumours circulating in the
Jericho marketplace speak of a Disney commitment to allow Mr.
Arafat to fulfill a childhood dream involving wearing a costume
(possibly of a character from "Snow White") at the California
Sources in the Holy See hinted at a package deal that would allow for
the eventual establishment of a "Vatican Land" in Rome.
The issue that troubles most people about the plan, is of course, the
security question: Can the Disney crew maintain law and order in the
volatile environment of Jerusalem's Old City?
"No problem!" a spokesperson assured us. Remember that the
Disney family has official links with at least one world-famous
law-enforcement agency. "I can't reveal anything official at this stage,
but we expect the area to be policed by an agency that we refer to as
the `Temple Mounties'."
Standing at the foot of the Temple Mount, the Disney representative
assured us that every effort would be made not to alter or interfere
with the city's traditional religious life-styles and traditions. His
assurance was symbolically underscored as the ancient chant of
the muezzin filled the air with the proclamation "Allah hu `Achbar."