Jerusalem to get its own speakers’ corner


Sacher Park to become center for exchanging opinions (archives)  Photo: Gil Yohanan

Sacher Park to become center for exchanging opinions (archives) Photo: Gil Yohanan

From barbecues to debates: Inspired by London’s Hyde Park, Israeli capital’s Sacher Park will soon have amphitheater for open-air public speaking, discussion

Israelis, as you probably already know, like to argue. They will soon have another organized place to exchange opinions and views – at Jerusalem’s “Hyde Park.”

London has its famous Speakers’ Corner, located in the northeastern end of Hyde Park. Every Sunday, strong-minded people flock to the corner to deliver ardent speeches to passersby.

Some famous people have spoken at Hyde Park’s Speakers’ Corner over the years, including Russian communist revolutionary Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, German economists and philosopher Karl Marx, novelist George Orwell and many others.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is now planning a speakers’ corner at the capital’s largest public park, Sacher Park. The Jerusalem Municipality has decided to build an amphitheater in the northwestern part of the park, which will be opened to the public in early 2014 and will have room for up to 220 people.

The Municipality will invite the public to visit the place, talk and argue about any subject in the world.

In order to ensure an organized debate, a host will invite the speakers, give them a time limit – and then let the audience comment. Ushers will ensure the discussion does not heat up and turn violent. A café will be built near the Sacher Park amphitheater.

Although Mayor Barkat is affiliated with Israel’s Right, he decided to name Jerusalem’s “Hyde Park” after an ideological rival: The late Arnan Yekutieli, founder of the Am Hofshi (“Free People”) association, which led the battle for the opening of cinemas and businesses in the city on Shabbat.

Yekutieli, who served as chairman of the Meretz faction at the City Council and as Jerusalem’s deputy mayor, died in 2001 while waiting for a heart transplant in the United States.

The City Council approved the plan for the Yekutieli speakers’ amphitheater, and construction work at Sacher Park is expected to begin in about five months.

“Establishing this ‘Hyde Park’ will give thousands of the park’s visitors an option to exchange opinions and views and hold different cultural activities,” said Barkat.

Source: Ynetnews.com