Fifty-three years ago on the 28th Iyar of the Hebrew calendar the old city of Jerusalem was liberated from illegal Jordanian control.
This week we celebrate that miraculous event as well as the reclaiming of Judea and Samaria and the Golan. Some of us are old enough to remember when the Capital was cruelly divided, the Kotel off-limits, the Mount of Olives cemetery desolate and desecrated, Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs forbidden to Jewish pilgrims and the Hebrew University Campus and Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus abandoned and inaccessible. Living in Jerusalem prior to 1967 was a hazardous experience for residents as they had to dodge daily sniping from the Jordanian occupied part of the city.
Back then Jerusalem was an isolated, neglected, backward part of Israel reached by a winding narrow road and surrounded by hostile forces. It is almost impossible for today’s generation to understand or even have any knowledge of how dire the situation and living conditions were at that time. Unless they have family members who have recounted their experiences or they have learnt the history of the city at school or youth groups the sad fact is that pre-1967 is like prehistoric times for many. Jerusalem today bears no relationship whatsoever to the city that existed 53 years ago. In fact, it is unrecognizable as development, construction and transport have transformed it into a vibrant place. The Old City with its holy sites and ancient walls is also seeing a rejuvenation of its infrastructure.
Who would have imagined a high-speed train from Tel Aviv reaching the Capital in 28 minutes or light rail trains transporting Jerusalem commuters from various suburbs to the central business district? The entrance to the city is being transformed with high rise buildings and underground parking facilities. New light rail routes are being built and there is talk of extending the fast train underground to the Kotel. In short, there is a revolution taking place with cranes and construction machines disrupting traffic in the short term but creating an unrecognizable metropolis in the medium to long term.
From the moment that the Capital was reunited until this very day there has been a continual barrage of condemnation, censure, threats and emergency meetings all focused on the one and only major danger to world peace. Apparently the sight of Jews returning to rebuild Synagogues, homes, schools and communal institutions destroyed by the Jordanians between 1948 and 1967 is an affront to the international community. That is why every Monday and Thursday every man and his dog meet in emergency sessions in order to pass yet more resolutions against Israel.
Given the blatant transparency of these hypocritical double standards it is inexplicable why we have not been more forceful in our responses. After fifty-three years of collective assaults on our legitimate legal right to Jerusalem in particular and Judea/Samaria & the Golan in general one would have thought that a vigorous response on our part would be in order. The lack of an unambiguous challenge to the lies and revisionist drivel has merely emboldened our opponents and fake friends alike.
The guilty parties for this pathetic state of affairs can be divided into three categories, namely the UN knee jerk members who want Israel to disappear, so-called “friendly” countries which love appeasing terror-supporting groups and finally our own trembling Jews and duplicitous politicians.
The Israel hating bloc at the UN has never hidden its antipathy and agenda and this has remained consistent over the years. From time to time they attract others to vote for their resolutions such as New Zealand which co-sponsored resolution 2334 denying any Jewish connection to Jerusalem. The fact that this shameful act has never been rescinded highlights how so-called “friends” can speak out of both sides of their mouths at the same time and still be embraced by Zionist delegitimizers and supporters alike.
More duplicitous but certainly just as transparent are those who at every opportunity champion “our right to exist” but then by their actions ensure that the opposite objective will ensue. Thus there are nations who trade with us and welcome our innovative achievements but who at the same vote against us with clockwork regularity and even worse fund and supply weapons to terror-supporting regimes. Incredibly many of these same “friends” who also condemn Israel when it comes to the question of restoring Jewish sovereignty are the very same ones already occupying other ethnic territories and actively suppressing any form of dissent. The current four EU members leading the charge against Israeli sovereignty and threatening sanctions are France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Ireland. Not one of these sanctimonious countries has a spotless record when it comes to colonizing others or its treatment of Jews. France still occupies territory far from its borders and is the home of Dreyfus and Vichy, neither event exactly a paradigm of unconditional love. Belgium has a scandalous history of colonial oppression and the murder of millions of Congolese natives. Luxembourg became virtually “judenrein” (free of Jews) as all except 36 of its 3,500 Jewish population were deported and murdered by the end of the war. Ireland refused sanctuary to fleeing European Jews and with a sizeable pro-Nazi sympathetic following remained neutral rather than participate in the fight against fascism. These then are the cheerleaders in EU efforts to deny Israeli sovereignty in its historic homeland.
The Vatican which reluctantly recognized Israel’s legitimacy well after most countries and still hankers for Jerusalem to be an internationally administered city has also weighed in and warned us not to reclaim sovereignty.
The UK Foreign Office which sees nothing amiss in occupying Northern Ireland, Gibraltar and the Falklands is shamefully chastising us for wanting to reassert our sovereignty in areas which saw Jewish independence long before the UK ever existed.
The US State Department is already trying to undermine the Secretary of State by now implying that sovereignty can only be applied in consultation with the terror-supporting PA. Operation double cross seems now to be well and truly in the works.
This now brings us to the sad spectacle of trembling Jews and mealy-mouthed Israeli politicians. The former turn to jelly whenever there is a prospect of Israel asserting itself and the latter make loud declarations which are subsequently muted as soon as it is politically convenient. It is instructive to listen closely exactly as to what these individuals are now declaring. Hoping that the public will not notice they endorse sovereignty “so long as it is done in co-ordination with the Palestinian Arabs, the Jordanians and the international community.” The absurdity of this stance is beyond belief. In effect it grants an everlasting veto to the very groups which don’t want us to be here in the first place.
The PA which pays murderers of Jews and advocates redividing Jerusalem and the creation of another terror State on non-existent 1967 borders is somehow expected to give a kosher stamp of approval to Jewish sovereignty. The Hashemite King who rules a country with a 70% plus majority of Palestinian Arabs is together with Moslem authorities allowed to enforce a ban against Jews praying on the Temple Mount. The UN which daily obsesses about fake Israeli crimes is expected to agree with applying sovereignty in Judea and Samaria when they do not even recognize that Jerusalem is rightfully ours?
What delusional universe do those who advocate receiving approval from the abovementioned groups live in? Have they learnt nothing from the recent past? What makes them believe that the successors of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who plotted with Hitler to murder the Jews of mandated Palestine and incited the mobs to riot and pillage will be giving their agreement to a Jewish presence anywhere?
It would be good for these purveyors of fantasies to learn from at least one Jewish leader who rebutted similar nonsense a few years ago. Menachem Begin’s response in 1982 to a threat by then Senator Biden that the USA would punish Israel if it did not stop settling Jews in Judea and Samaria is the sort of determined leadership that our dithering politicians and others should emulate today.
“Don’t threaten us with cutting off your aid. It will not work. I am not a Jew with trembling knees. I am a proud Jew with 3,700 years of civilized history. Nobody came to our aid when we were dying in the gas chambers and ovens. Nobody came to our aid when we were striving to create our country. We paid for it. We fought for it. We died for it. We will stand by our principles. We will defend them. And, when necessary, we will die for them again, with or without your aid.”
This is the response we should be giving to Abbas, Abdullah and all the others threatening us at the moment.
If Yom Yerushalayim after 53 years is to mean more than annual empty slogans then let us finally finish what we should have done back in 1967.
The time to act is long overdue.
Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel and is J-Wire’s correspondent in the region.