No Israel Update later this week as I’ll be away; however, these items commemorate the Yom Yerushalayim Jubilee in the Hebrew calendar, 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967:
Chief Rabbi Mirvis sent this video message for Yom Yerushalyim:
“Jerusalem is the centre of our spiritual existence, a symbol of our people” (2 minutes 15 secs)
A video message from Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks:
“As we approach Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) on the 23rd / 24th May, and the 50th anniversary of the reunification of our beloved city, here are a few thoughts about what Jerusalem means to me.”
VIDEO: 7 mins 15 secs.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT – some salient points:
- Since 1004 BCE, when King David established Jerusalem as the capital of his kingdom, there has been a continuous Jewish presence in Jerusalem, the holiest city in Judaism.
- Jews have constituted the largest ethnic group in Jerusalem since 1820.
- During the 19 years when Jordan occupied eastern Jerusalem and its holy sites (1948-1967), Jerusalem was divided. Jews were expelled from eastern Jerusalem and barred from visiting their holy places. Fifty-eight synagogues—some hundreds of years old—were destroyed, their contents looted and desecrated. Some Jewish religious sites were turned into chicken coops or animal stalls. The Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, where Jews had been burying their dead for over 2500 years, was ransacked; graves were desecrated; thousands of tombstones were smashed and used as building material, paving stones or for latrines in Arab Legion army camps.
- In 1950, Jordan illegally annexed the territories it had captured in the 1948 war—eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank.
- In direct contravention of the 1949 armistice agreements, Jews were denied access to the Western Wall and all religious sites in eastern Jerusalem. The armistice lines were sealed as Jordanian snipers would perch on the walls of the Old City and shoot at Israelis across the lines.
REUNIFICATION IN JUNE 1967
- During the 1967 war, Israel appealed to Jordan to stay out of the war, but despite this appeal, Jordanian forces fired artillery barrages from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Although Israeli forces did not respond initially, not wanting to open up a Jordanian front in the war, Jordan continued to attack and occupied UN headquarters in Jerusalem. Israeli forces fought back and within two days managed to repulse the Jordanian forces and retake eastern Jerusalem
- In a statement at the Western Wall, Minister of Defence Moshe Dayan indicated Israel’s peaceful intent and pledged to preserve religious freedom for all faiths in Jerusalem:
“To our Arab neighbours we extend, especially at this hour, the hand of peace. To members of the other religions, Christians and Muslims, I hereby promise faithfully that their full freedom and all their religious rights will be preserved. We did not come to Jerusalem to conquer the Holy Places of others.”
8. Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol met with the spiritual leaders of different faiths in his office and issued a declaration of peace, assuring that all holy sites would be protected and that all faiths would be free to worship at their holy sites in Jerusalem. He declared his intention to give the spiritual leaders of the various religions internal management of their own Holy Sites.
- The religious freedoms enjoyed by Jews, Christians, and Muslims in the reunified Jerusalem had been unheard of during Jordanian occupation of the city, prompting even a former Jordanian ambassador to the United Nations, Adnan Abu Odeh, to acknowledge that “the situation in Jerusalem prior to 1967 [under Jordanian rule] was one of … religious exclusion” whereas post-1967, Israel seeks “to reach a point of religious inclusion …”
These religious freedoms continue to this day.
COMMENT ON THE JORDANIAN OCCUPATION OF JERUSALEM 1948 – 1967
Daniel Pipes: Nor were Jordan’s rulers alone in ignoring Jerusalem; the city virtually disappeared from the Arab diplomatic map. Malcolm Kerr’s well-known study on inter-Arab relations during this period (The Arab Cold War) appears not once to mention the city. No foreign Arab leader came to Jerusalem during the nineteen years when Jordan controlled East Jerusalem, and King Hussein (r. 1952-99) himself only rarely visited….Perhaps most remarkable is that the PLO’s founding document, the Palestinian National Covenant of 1964, does not once mention Jerusalem or even allude to it.
According to a forthcoming statistical abstract from the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research (formerly the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies), the Jewish population of Jerusalem has grown by 174% in the last 50 years, while the Arab population grew at twice that rate – 374% – in the same period.
According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, Jerusalem’s population has grown from just 84,000 in 1948 to 883,000 in 2016. Around 10 percent of Israel’s population resides in Jerusalem
The photograph of three paratroopers standing in silent awe in front of the recaptured Western Wall after the battle for Jerusalem in 1967 has become the defining image of one of the most significant moments in Israel’s history.With the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War approaching, Zion Karasenti, Haim Oshri, and Dr. Itizik Yifat returned to the Old City recently to remember the moment. They described how they, as 20-something reserve duty soldiers, inadvertently became the symbol of a nation fulfilling a 2,000 year old dream.
MORE INFORMATION AT THIS LINK: http://www.mythsandfacts.org/Conflict/3/Jerusalem.pdf