Tonight begins Yom Yerushalayim — Jerusalem Day.
The day is celebrated according to the Hebrew date of the liberation by Israeli troops of eastern (historic Jewish) Jerusalem, in 1967.
“Har Habayit b’yadenu! Ani chozer: Har Habayit b’yadenu! The Temple Mount is in our hands! I repeat, the Temple Mount is in our hands!”
So declared Gen. Motta Gur when he and the paratroopers he commanded reached the Mount.
You can hear an historic recording of this event, which includes prayers by Rabbi Shlomo Goren, and see a translated transcript here:
In the 3,000 years since King David first made Jerusalem his capital, the city had been divided only once: during the 19 years that Jordan controlled eastern Jerusalem following the War of Independence.
When Israel liberated that part of the city, on the third day of the Six Day War, Jerusalem was reunited — never, ever to be divided again.
The myth is that “east” Jerusalem is “Arab.” But this only appeared to be the case because Jordan rendered it Judenrein — not only banishing all Jews, but destroying synagogues and desecrating cemeteries. The reality is that the very heart of ancient Jewish heritage is in the eastern part of the city.
Today, almost half of the population of eastern Jerusalem — more than 225,00 people — is Jewish. Any notion of being able to divide the city — with western Jerusalem for the Jews, and eastern Jerusalem for the Arabs, is pure nonsense.
In fact, the notion that the Palestinian Arabs have a legitimate claim to any part of Jerusalem is equally nonsense. And let it be clearly understood: They say they want the eastern part of the city for their capital. But a serious analysis of statements made by the Palestinian Authority makes it clear that they intend to have all of the city.
We made a grievous error, in turning over the daily administration of the Temple Mount to the Muslim Wakf after we had liberated it. Let there be no more mistakes.
To surrender the very heart of Jewish heritage would be to seriously weaken our national resolve, and to rob us of our deepest purpose. And don’t imagine the Arabs are not aware of this.
Under no circumstances may Jerusalem be divided.
Any so-called Jewish leader or thinker or writer, whether here in Israel or outside, who proposes such a division — imagining it to be somehow necessary either in the interests of “peace” or to satisfy international demands — does a serious disservice to Am Yisrael and the State of Israel. Such a move would serve only to weaken the Jewish people and to subvert the cause of true peace.
Almost immediately after the city was reunited, a law was passed for the protection of holy places; it reads:
“The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places…”
It must be noted that only under Israeli sovereignty will Christian holy places in Jerusalem be guarded.
In July 1980, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law, declaring, “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.” Eastern Jerusalem is indivisibly part of the capital.
If you have never visited Jerusalem, I urge you to do so. There is no way to truly value her in your heart without knowing her. When you come, be sure to take a tour of the ancient Jewish sites in eastern Jerusalem.
Of course, the Kotel, and the tunnel adjacent, and the nearby archeological gardens. And go up on the Mount — an important thing to do — with a guide.
Not to be missed, as well, is Ir David — the City of David, outside the city walls. This is the original ancient city, and archeologists regularly uncover new evidence of life there.
But it doesn’t end with these sites. A guide can show you old Jewish neighborhoods, and much more. See www.keepjerusalem.org .
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand lose its cunning; let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I do not set Jerusalem above my greatest joy.
From Psalm 137.
I offer here in closing what I still think is the best of the videos offering the song Im Eshkachech. A few years old, it remains very moving.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.