Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) celebrates the Israeli reunification of Jerusalem on the 28th of Iyar in the course of the Six Day War in 1967.
In course of Jerusalem’s long history it has been divided for only nineteen years. This happened at the end of the War of Independence of 1948-49: Israel held western Jerusalem, while Jordan had taken eastern Jerusalem in an illegal occupation.
The Jordanians banished all Jews. They destroyed synagogues, desecrated Jewish cemeteries; tombstones were used for paving roads. Although it had been a commitment written into the armistice agreement of 1949 that Israelis would be permitted access to Jewish holy places in eastern Jerusalem, the Jordanians refused to allow them to visit the Kotel (or anywhere else).
Because of this action by the Jordanians, in pushing out all Jews from that part of the city, eastern Jerusalem came to be seen as – was promoted as – “Arab.” To which I say, without diplomatic finesse, Garbage! Yet the Palestinian Arabs use this perception of eastern Jerusalem as “Arab” to great effect in their campaign to deny the Jewishness of Jerusalem.
The fact of the matter is that Jewish heritage in Jerusalem centers on the more ancient eastern part of the city, and not modern, western Jerusalem.
Here you see the Pilgrims’ Path, which was the walkway used 2,000 years ago by pilgrims to Jerusalem. It ran from the Pool of Shiloah to the Temple Mount.
Discovered by accident in 2004, inside David’s City (Ir David), it took 13 years to excavate. Consisting of 10,000 tons of stone, it is 25 feet (over 7.5 meters) wide and 2,000 feet (over 600 meters) long. It was walked by tens of thousands of Jews during each of the pilgrimage seasons of Sukkot, Pesach and Shavuot.
When David Friedman, who was then US Ambassador to Israel, participated in a ceremony to unveil the Pilgrims’ Path in the summer of 2019, he said:
“Peace between Israel and the Palestinians must be based upon a foundation of truth. This brings to life the historical truth of a momentous period in Jewish history and brings an end to the baseless efforts to deny the historical fact of Jerusalem’s ancient connection to the Jewish people.”
There you have it. But Palestinian Arabs still insist that Jerusalem “belongs” to them, and manages to convince a whole lot of the world, which, in a paroxysm of anti-Semitism, shows itself eager to embrace the historical distortions. The Palestinian Arabs say the Pilgrims’ Path represents a “false narrative.”
Observes Doron Spielman, Vice President of the City of David:
“What we are seeing more and more is that this [the claim of “false narrative”] is in complete disregard of the historical record. We are peeling back the layers of history to reveal a Jewish presence here that significantly predates the Islamic period. When you walk upon these stone(s), you are face to face with empirical evidence of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.”
What I ask of each of you is to share this posting broadly, in order to set the record straight on the ancient Jewish connection to Jerusalem.
Yom Yerushalayim this year begins this evening, May 9, and continues tomorrow, May 10.
See here a marvelous video from Mizrachi providing fascinating details on how Israel came to liberate eastern Jerusalem, and the overarching spiritual meaning of our having done so.
We must celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem joyously. But the Palestinian Arabs are seeking to block that celebration via violence and hysterical, inciteful charges. The fact that this is happening towards the end Ramadan, when there tends to be more violence, is an exacerbating factor, but not an excuse.
They are focusing on two different sites in Jerusalem and two different issues. The first is Har Habayit, with the inciteful and totally false claims, which I have been writing about, that Israel is going to take over Al Aksa Mosque and that Muslim prayer on the Mount is going to be forbidden.
This past Friday was the last Friday of Ramadan. See here Muslim prayers on the Mount that day: There were tens of thousands of Muslims participating.
But that didn’t prevent the accusations or the violence – some of the worst seen in years – which broke out after prayers were finished.
“In the days leading up to Friday’s mass rioting in the Temple Mount compound Palestinians had stockpiled stone slabs, rocks and fireworks around the site, according to a Saturday television report…
“Anger grew on Saturday with the circulation of a video in which a stun grenade is seen detonating inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque, after it was launched into the building by Israeli security forces. According to Channel 12 this was in response to attacks on the forces from within the mosque. (Emphasis added here and above)
This is not a new story. Palestinian Arabs on the Mount use their allegedly sacred Al Aksa mosque in a distinctly disrespectful manner, as a store house for weapons and a site from which to discharge or throw weapons. As David Israel of the Jewish Press described it, “…the faithful expressed their devotion to Allah by throwing stones, bottles, and other objects at police officers.”
Then there is an outcry by Muslims in various places in the world because Israel “disrespects” the mosque when responding.
Israeli Police put out a statement: “We will not allow riots, violence and attempts to harm police officers through taking advantage of the freedom of worship and religion, and turning it into a violent incident…We will respond with a heavy hand to all violent disturbances, riots and attacks on our forces.”
It’s important to note that Hamas flags were seen waving during the riots: This is being instigated by Hamas, as well as by the PA.
Yesterday, as tensions surrounding the Mount remained high, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared: “We are acting responsibly to ensure law and order in Jerusalem while maintaining freedom of worship at the holy sites.” Police attempted to block those who were seeking to generate violence from getting to the Mount. But as tens of thousands streamed up last night for Islam’s holiest observance, “Laylat al-Qadr” (Night of Destiny), violence again ensued.
The other focus of the violence has been in the neighborhood of Shimon HaTzadik (aka Sheikh Jarrah). And this is related directly to what I described above regarding Jews having been driven out of eastern Jerusalem by Jordan, which then sought to establish the area as Arab.
The Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood, so called because the tomb of Shimon HaTzadik (Simeon the Just, a high priest who was among the last of the Great Assembly) is located there.
Credit: Chesed Fund
In the late 1800s the land around the tomb had been purchased and settled by Jews; but they were forced to leave during the War of Independence. Arabs – squatters – then took over the Jewish houses and were awarded deeds by the Jordanian government.
In the recent years, attempts have been made to restore ownership of these houses to their rightful owners or their descendants. The process is a slow one, taking years; it is done with care – involving documentation and court processes. Arab residents of the homes are not summarily thrown out. In some instances they are permitted to remain for some years as renters.
I can attest to the Jewishness of at least some of these homes – as I have myself seen the niches designed for the placing of a mezuzah in the heavy stone doorways of what are ostensibly Arab houses.
At present, the case of several Arab families is pending. They have been found by the Court to not be the legal owners of their houses, and are awaiting a Court hearing on appeal.
See additional details here:
Serious violence against Jews has ensued in the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood in recent days.
As Khaled Abu Toameh describes the situation, “The Palestinians have succeeded in turning the dispute over the ownership of a number of houses in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah into a major crisis…”
As violence was promoted on the Temple Mount and the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood at the same time, the two situations are now seen as linked: The accusation is that Israel is destroying “Palestinian rights” and attempting to “Judaize Jerusalem.” And the Arabs think they are winning the battle.
This is a very bad scene. Particularly since the international community is buying into this:
There was Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the UN (of course), then Canada, and the Quartet. What I found terribly irksome (although not surprising considering the nature of the current US administration) was this comment, exhibiting a position of moral equivalency, by Ned Price, State Department Spokesman:
The State Department, he said, “is extremely concerned about ongoing confrontations in Jerusalem, including on the Haram al-Sharif / Temple Mount and in Sheikh Jarrah, which have reportedly resulted in scores of injured people…
“We call on Israeli and Palestinian officials to act decisively to deescalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence…it is absolutely critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve the historic status quo” on the Temple Mount, both “in word and in practice…
“It is critical to avoid steps that exacerbate tensions or take us farther away from peace. This includes evictions in East Jerusalem, settlement activity, home demolitions, and acts of terrorism.”
According to Price, then, if we require Arabs who are not legally the owners of homes in Shimon HaTzadik to leave so the rightful Jewish owners can move in, or demolish homes built illegally by Palestinian Arabs, or enlarge communities in Judea & Samaria, we are driving peace away. Illegal building in Area C by Palestinian Arabs funded by the EU is apparently not a problem.
There are several matters that concern me very deeply with regard to this entire situation.
Any attempt to be conciliatory and to back down in the face of Palestinian demands – in the hopes that this will cool matters – is a huge mistake. Khaled Abu Toameh, above, describes several recent situations in which this has been the case and I find it all deplorable and frightening. We must hold our ground or they consider that we are weak and that they have the upper hand.
Just today, the attorney general went to the Court and requested that the appeals by the Arab families in Shimon HaTzadik, which were to be heard Monday, be postponed because of the violence. The request has been granted. We are not talking about a delay of a few days, either. A new date will be set within the next 30 days.
But don’t Attorney General Mandelblit and Prime Minister Netanyahu know?? Don’t they see it?? They have just given the Arabs the upper hand, allowing them to believe (with reason) that we can be controlled via violence. The Arabs are now convinced that if they continue with violence, they can keep the Arabs in those houses.
So much are the Palestinian Arabs certain of their success that they are now speaking about expanding their efforts. The Central Committee of Fatah has called for a “continuation of the public uprising and fight against the occupation and the settlers.
“The continuation of the settler attacks on the holy places and the homes of Palestinian residents, their expulsion and expansion of settlements — will lead to an all-out conflict in all the Palestinian territories.” (Emphasis added)
I will add to this the fact that Hamas is also involved. This is the case not only with a presence in Judea & Samaria, and in terms of the incitement on the Temple Mount. The incendiary balloons are being launched again, starting fires in southern Israel. This has been going on for four days now and there have been dozens of incidents.
Credit: Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council
A suspected explosive device is now in the hands of a sapper and there has been rioting at the Gaza fence.
So what do we need in order to handle all of this? For me the answer is so very obvious: a strong, committed right-wing government.
Contemplating what would happen if Lapid were to succeed, bringing in Meretz and Labor in the face of this violence, is enough to cause pains in one’s stomach, quite literally.
They talk a good game – Lapid and a duplicitous Bennett – but they might not be able to put it together in the end. Other strategies on the right that might redeem the situation are being discussed – to what effect I cannot say.
Every Yom Yerushalayim, with the exception of last year when we were contending with corona, an event known as the Rikudgalim is held in celebration of the day. This is a parade of mostly young people that goes through designated streets in western Jerusalem and ends up at the Kotel, with dancing. It is a joy to watch. Below is a picture from a previous year, taken on King George Street at the beginning of the parade.
As I write I have not heard anything about a cancellation or change of venue because of the Arab threats of violence. For this, I am grateful. Security will be enormous, but we are apparently going ahead, as we should.
I hope to be out there tomorrow, cheering them on, and reminding myself what an enormous blessing it is for me to live in Jerusalem.