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‘Monopolizing’ Jerusalem

By:Ita Yankovich Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Many have said that Jerusalem is not for sale but come February 29th, it actually can be!

Imagine being able to purchase “Jerusalem” for $400. In the board game Monopoly, players compete to acquire the most profit through clever real estate investments involving the buying, rental and trading of properties using fake money and the luck of the dice.

The makers of Monopoly recently announced they will be issuing a special “Global Monopoly” edition of the board game, and the company has asked players to vote on which of the world’s 20 leading cities they would like to see featured in the game, listing 68 cities from which to choose. Hasbro, an imprint of the toy manufacturer Parker Brothers, cites that Monopoly is the most widely played commercial board game in the world with approximately 750 million fans playing since it was first introduced 75 years ago.

According to recent polls, “Jerusalem, Israel” was fourth on the leader board, sandwiched between “Riga, Latvia” and “Paris, France.”

Many think this is a good idea, especially the campaign group, One Jerusalem, whose mission is to maintain an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The organization is encouraging people to vote for Jerusalem, and even provides a link to the Hasbro page on their website. Yehiel Leiter, the director of One Jerusalem, is quoted telling the BBC that having Jerusalem win the international contest “puts Jerusalem on the table. It has people not avoid Jerusalem because it’s contested.”

As with anything related to the Middle East, even a simple board game garners controversy: Jerusalem was the only city to be listed without a country since, according to reports, many complained about the political implication. However, following pressure from the public and the Israeli consulate, all country names were removed from the list.

In a statement released last week, Hasbro said its Parker Brothers subsidiary had never intended to print any country names on the final boards, since “we would never want to enter into any political debate,” and that all online tags were used as geographic reference points.

Monopoly is the best-selling board game in the world, sold in 103 countries and produced in 37 languages. Said Helen Martin, global brand leader for Monopoly brand, “It transcends cultural barriers. It will be exciting to see how the vote will turn out! We hope that fans will vote early and often for their favorite cities.”

Many Jews have flocked the Monopoly site to show their support for Jerusalem, showing that clearly for many this is more than just a game. The contest ends February 28th, so “don’t pass ‘Go’ ” and make sure to vote for Jerusalem.

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