Tomorrow, Sunday, marks Jerusalem Liberation Day – the 45th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem from the illegal Jordanian occupation, by the Israel Defence Forces in the Six Day War. Amongst other things, it will be celebrated with the traditional Dance of the Flags in the piazza in front of the Western Wall.
Who can forget the thrill in every true Jewish heart on that June day in 1967, when Paratroop Brigade commander Colonel Motta Gur announced, over the army wireless: “The Temple Mount is in our hands.“?
And yet – it is not quite so. For how can we proclaim that the Temple Mount is in our hands, when the Israeli government of the day caved in to international pressure and handed the keys of the Temple Mount back to the Muslim Waqf? How can we say that we have returned to the holiest of our holy places, never again to be parted from it, when even today, Jews are prevented from praying on the Temple Mount, for fear of Muslim violence? How can we speak of “the Liberation of the Old City” when the Israeli flag cannot be flown over the Israeli Police station on the Temple Mount or when Jew who tries to pray or to blow the shofar on the site of the Temple, or dares to don a tallit (prayer shawl) or even to open a Book of Psalms there, is immediately detained by the Israeli Police as a “disruptor of the public peace”?
When the government of the State of Israel prefers “industrial peace” to protecting Jewish rights in what is indeed “the Holiest of our Holy Places” (which could be done without any infringement of so-called Muslim “rights”), what are we to answer the UN and UNESCO and the world, when they accuse us of attempting to “Judaize” Jerusalem?
How is it possible to “Judaize” Jerusalem?! How is it possible to “Judaize” the city which King David made his capital 3000 years ago? Can one “Americanize” New York? Can one “Russify” Moscow? One can no more “Judaize” Jerusalem than one can “Germanicize” Berlin!
I did not intend to write about politics tonight. All I wanted to do was to laud the beauty of Jerusalem. Our sages tell us that ten measures of beauty descended on the world. Of these, Jerusalem took nine and all the rest of the world, only one.
With that thought in mind, I will leave you with popular Israeli singer Yehoram Gaon performing “From the Summit of Mount Scopus” - a love song to Jerusalem:
“For one hundred generations I have dreamed of you, to see the light of your countenance“, sings the poet, as if to a bride. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, I will not move hence. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the Messiah will surely come.”