Jerusalem mayor's visit to DU stirs debate
By Shane Eric-Eugene Hensinger
MA candidate, International Security
Josef Korbel School
A visit to the University of Denver campus by the mayor of Jerusalem inspired strong emotions and passionate debate.
Nir Barkat, elected mayor in 2008, spoke to a crowd of more than 800, according to officials. The significance of Barkat's appearance was underscored by welcoming addresses from Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and DU Chancellor Robert Coombe.
The mayor focused on economic issues in the speech. Several times he mentioned the income disparity between the city of Jerusalem and the rest of Israel, describing it as "unacceptable." Barkat said his plan to boost tourism in Jerusalem would help to ease the disparity by increasing employment and per-capita income in the city.
Barkat took questions from Josef Korbel School faculty member Micheline Ishay, who had selected questions submitted by audience members. Several concerned the status of East Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim eventually will be the capital of an independent Palestine.
Barkat said he had worked to bring Jews and Arabs together in Jerusalem but that he considered Jerusalem the undivided capital of Israel. Barkat closed his speech by reminding everyone present--those who agreed and those who did not--that they shared a common goal.
"Everyone wants peace," Barkat said.
A crowd of noisy protestors outside of the Newman Center for the Performing Arts, located on the southeast edge of the DU campus, rallied for and against the mayor and in defense of a number of different causes, reminding those entering and leaving the speech of the passions that the Israel-Palestine conflict arouses around the world. The Denver Post published this article about the protest the following day in its local-news section. To read the story published on DU Today click here.