A: It was the greatest tragedy that has happened to us during these 23 years and I am sure that it happened and will throw its shadow, but I am sure that nobody wanted this, neither they nor us.
Q: It's often said that as mayor you are a pragmatist rather than an ideologue or an idealist. Is that true and, if so, how is this reflected in the way you run the city ?
A: If we've been talking about the reunification of the city in 1967, let me take our approach to the Arab population as an example. Well, when the city fell together, we, of course, took care of everyday things. We provided water they didn't have, milk for the children, and so on. We tried to create conditions that aren't normally the conditions after a conquest. We gave them the choice to remain Jordanians or to become Israelis. Very few became Israelis, though we expected that from the beginning. But we gave them that choice. We kept their school system working under their curriculum . . . . We allowed them to cross into Arab countries with which we were at war and where we couldn't go--also not very customary under similar circumstances. And the main thing--we left them the Temple Mount.
Q: \o7 You've spent a lot of time trying to sort out problems with the Arabs. What about the problems you have with the various Christian sects?\f7
A: You see, there is one basic problem: This is a unique city; we have no examples which we can follow. We must try and find new ways. We are now repairing a church that belongs to a very venerable and old Christian domination--the Syrian Orthodox--which was neglected. They still pray and also speak--the older generations--in Aramaic, which goes back about 2,000 years and in which some of the holy books of the Jews are written. Now, we have spent well over a million shekels--over half-a-million dollars--to repair their church because it was falling to bits. So it's an example of pragmatism.
The controversies here among Christian churches now go very peacefully--though historically people were even killed over matters of ritual precedence. The Christians aren't very happy: They feel that they are in the middle of the conflict between the Muslims and the Jews, and they don't know how to get out of it.
Q: \o7 What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as mayor?\f7
A: My greatest accomplishment I still have to obtain. It is a stronger-based relation between various groups. It takes some time. I don't know what happens, let's say in Los Angeles, between the great variety of groups you have--maybe even more than we. But in Los Angeles, on the whole, people will say: "Our children or our grandchildren will speak English, and they will be part of a general community." But here it isn't so.
For instance, the Armenians have remained Armenians for 1,500 years and they speak Armenian among themselves, and they look at Armenia--whether it's Soviet Armenia or Turkish Armenia--and suffer badly if there is an earthquake there or a fight between them and the Azerbaijanis. And the same is true of others here. You have sects that will last for a very long time, who for centuries preserved their identity. And therefore we have to develop--and we have developed to some extent--relations where there is a neighborly relationship, though basically not one culture. We have to find new forms here. In some ways we have found them--and in some ways we haven't.
Q: \o7 We've been talking about Jerusalem. Do you have any thoughts about possible ways to settle the general Israeli-Palestinian, Israeli-Arab conflict?
\f7 A: You cannot settle the Jerusalem conflict without settling the general conflict. And only if you have a general solution . . . will you be able to come to some conclusions here. Until then, you can only try not to create additional problems and additional difficulties here. When I saw Mr. Husseini, my purpose was to show that--despite all of these differences--we could still meet and talk about things in a civilized way, and I think that we have achieved. This government hasn't asked me for my opinion, so I don't want to talk about it.
Q: \o7 What, looking back, has been your greatest disappointment, not so much as mayor but in a broader sense?\f7
A: Well, we are all dreaming about an Israel that would be an example of a good state, of a just society, and I think we haven't made that. We are left only with the idea, which was maybe too presumptuous, but anyway we lived with this. We were somehow encouraged in this by, for example, a book like "Exodus": Everybody there is a hero. So people expected us--everybody--to be a hero. And we haven't made that, and it's a disappointment. Maybe it could never of happened. But I think that we could still have built a better society than we did. I can understand the Arabs extremely well, but the fact that their permanent attacks on us made our people more belligerent and cruder is a great disappointment. But you can't give up on this, you have to continue working on it.