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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Gloom in Jerusalem

Tonight and tomorrow, the 28th of Iyar, are Jerusalem Day. The celebrations were all held today so as not to bring about potential Sabbath violations, but the actual Jerusalem Day is tonight and tomorrow. For those of you who don't know what Jerusalem Day is, it is the anniversary of the day in 5727 (1967) on which, by God's grace, Israel liberated the Old City of Jerusalem. I can recall watching the soldiers marching into the city on television in Boston in June 1967 and having my father tell me that on this joyous day, Hallel will always be said.

Well, as the years have passed, a lot of Israelis have become more cynical and detached, and many now regard the Old City, along with Hebron, Shchem and other areas liberated in 1967, as a 'burden.' Israel Harel treats that in this article from today's HaAretz:
Because of Jerusalem's religious, ethnic and political complexities, there is international pressure to prevent Israeli sovereignty over its eastern parts. Isolation and sacrifice will be needed to retain sovereignty over the most symbolically and historically important parts of the capital.

But the nation has not proved - in the way it has gone about making Jerusalem its "undivided and eternal" capital in the last 39 years - that it really wants to fulfill its vows.

The Israeli government, for example, does not deal with purchasing Jewish property in the City of David and other quarters, which have been held by Arabs since the Old City fell in the War of Independence. Organizations relying mainly on contributions are forced to purchase the properties by means of tricks and covert stratagems. This is not only because of the pressure exerted on the Arab owners but mainly because the Jewish media is fighting a holy war against allowing Jews to live in houses that have been returned to their owners. For if those houses, like those in the Yemenite Quarter in the City of David, are returned to the Jews and they lived in them, that part of the city could not be used as the Palestinian capital - a holy cause by all means. And then what would we do?

As Uri Zvi Greenberg wrote in 1948: "Israel without the mountain wouldn't be Israel."

Read the whole thing.


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