Earlier this year, I visited the grave of my great-grandfather, who is buried on the Mount of Olives. My great-grandfather was born before the rebirth of the Zionist movement, before the Holocaust, before the founding of the state of Israel, and before the reunification of Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people. My great-grandfather could never have imagined that he would be buried in the reunited city of Jerusalem, with his great-grandson serving as the city's Mayor. As I stood overlooking our city, I was filled with a sense of true pride over all we have accomplished.
Three thousand years ago, when the people of Israel returned to the land of Israel, the land was divided among the tribes – except for Jerusalem. Jerusalem was not given to any specific tribe, but rather, the gates of the city remained open to all. Jerusalem has once again returned to the promise of its founding as a beacon of openness and inclusiveness.
Since reuniting the city fifty years ago, we have maintained freedom of religion, expression and movement. Jerusalem has become a leader in hi-tech, biomed, culture, the arts, and sport. The city is undergoing a dramatic transformation in the education system and we are developing the country's most advanced public transport and infrastructure. The capital of the Jewish people is thriving.
As we approach Jerusalem Day, I am newly invigorated each day knowing how far we have come in the past fifty years and all that we will accomplish in the next fifty years and beyond.
Nir Barkat has served as Mayor of Jerusalem since 2008 and was re-elected in 2013 for a second five-year term. He holds a degree in computer science from the Hebrew University, and launched a successful software company before entering politics.