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World

'No One Wants' This Level Of Violence In Jerusalem, Rabbi Says

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We're going to hear now from Rabbi Uri Ayalon. He lives in southern Jerusalem, not far from the site of yesterday's bus attack. He's a social activist who works with the poor. Welcome to the program.

URI AYALON: Thank you.

CORNISH: First, tell us a little bit about your neighborhood, what things are like on the streets today. Does it feel any different?

AYALON: In the last few days, we feel that less people are taking the bus. Less people are in the streets. You can find emptier shops. We are really feeling that the level of the violence in the city is higher. I think that we are playing a game here between the need of the residents of Jerusalem to keep their routine and on the other hand, really to do things that are giving us the feeling that we are secure.

CORNISH: You also have three children. How have you or maybe your friends and neighbors changed your routine when you have children?

AYALON: Well, we - I have children. What I think about is how to keep them secure. That's the most important thing. All the other things are not so important. I'm coming with them to their activities and staying with them sometimes. That would make the bigger damage if we cancel activities, so we are trying to adjust.

CORNISH: How are you explaining the attacks to them? I mean, this is different from taking shelter, right? This is a different beast.

AYALON: It sounds tragic, but it is almost part of life here. So the kids, they are used to being part of the big conflict and to know that there is a change in the atmosphere, and we have to change a bit our life. But it's difficult - it's difficult this time because everything is unexpected.

CORNISH: What kind of, I guess, interaction do you have with Arab or Palestinian communities in Jerusalem?

AYALON: When you are living in Jerusalem, you are living in a city that has Jews and Palestinians, Muslims and Christians, of course. The interaction is in daily life. When I'm taking to fix my car, I will meet workers that are Palestinians. When I will go to the hospital, if I need something from the hospital, I will meet doctors that are Palestinians. You cannot separate the two communities. We are living together. If you are now taking away 300,000 Palestinians that are living in the city, then you are making the financial situation of the city, the financial system of the city, to collapse. As if you are taking the 600,000 Jews that are living in the city out of the city, the financial system will collapse.

CORNISH: Are you talking with Palestinians about what's happening in your daily life?

AYALON: Sometimes we are talking. Most of the population - I will say that most of the population - also the Palestinian, also the Jewish population of Jerusalem - no one wants that kind of violence anyway. Most of the Palestinian population - and I will say they're - of course that they are supporting the Palestinian issue, but they are not violent. They want to wake up in the morning, go to work, take their kids to school and live their life.

CORNISH: Rabbi Uri Ayalon, we reached him at his home in Jerusalem. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

AYALON: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.