The magic of the ezan in Jerusalem lacks in Levent

The magic of the ezan in Jerusalem lacks in Levent

I will mark my 40th year in journalism next year. During these years I have made business trips to various places in the world, but in none of them have I been so deeply affected as the Palestine trip I made with the head of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB), Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu. It was an extremely busy business trip that touched both our hearts and minds.

We highly appreciate the efforts of the TOBB leadership in trying to create a fair working environment for the Palestinian business world and for generating jobs and welfare for the Palestinian people.

Just one example: It was back in 1999, in the West Bank city of Jenin, that it was decided that an organized industrial zone (OIZ) should be established. There were expropriations, but when Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died the expropriation costs were not paid and the matter was deadlocked.

Now, the TOBB is facilitating the overcoming of this deadlock by paying the expropriation costs, worth $10 million. The German government is also spending 20 million euros on supporting
Palestine’s first OIZ, helping to build its roads and the infrastructure needed for water, electricity, natural gas and telephone lines. The infrastructure work inside the OIZ will again be built with the leadership of the TOBB, also benefiting from a number of Israeli sources.

East Jerusalem is not exactly rich, but because it is under Israeli occupation everything works smoothly. When you pass into the West Bank, to Palestine land, you immediately notice the drop in the standards of living with its buildings, markets, and with the outfits of people on the streets. For example, when we entered the compulsory coverage zone of the Palestinian telecoms company Jawwal, all of our phones and iPads stopped working. We were unable to send back our stories for hours.

Call to prayer at al-Aqsa Mosque

Jerusalem is considered holy to the three major monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In walking a distance of 2 kilometers, our sentiments reach their peak. The Wailing Wall of the Jews, an ancient stone said to carry the handprint of Jesus, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where Jesus is believed to have been crucified, and the al-Aqsa Mosque. We were mystified.

I listened to the ezan (the call to prayer) in the yard of the al-Aqsa Mosque one lunch time. It was of an otherworldly beauty that I had never heard before. I wish the mosque right next to my home in Istanbul’s Levent district, instead of increasing the volume of its loudspeakers a little bit more each day, would set up an order that would not disrupt the magic of the call to prayer…

Cemetery of billionaires

There is a cemetery on the outskirts of the Zeytindağı (Mount of Olives). Many Jewish people wish to be buried there. However, this is not so easy because a grave in Zeytindağı costs from a minimum of $60,000 to $500,000. If you want a grave site overlooking the Dome of the Rock, then you need to be prepared to pay $500,000. That’s why it is called the “Cemetery of Billionaires.”

The graves of Israeli Nobel Peace Prize holder Prime Minister Menachem Begin and British media tycoon Robert Maxwell are to be found there.