Jogging Memories of 1947 and 1967 on Jerusalem Day
These days, I confess, I think more about recent history than the walls’ ancient history, built by Suleiman the Magnificent 500 years ago but evoking Abraham binding Isaac, King David designating King Solomon, thousands of years earlier. Mahmoud Abbas’s rewriting of the history of 1947, which passed the New York Times’ editorial muster, Barack Obama’s obsession with the 1967 lines, have me wishing Jerusalem’s stones could talk, confirming what really happened when Zionists founded Israel in 1947-1948, when Israelis liberated Jerusalem in 1967, and during the difficult intervening years.
Scampering up Mount Zion, holy to us and our Christian brethren, I wonder what the fifty soldiers following Captain Eli Kedar thought while hustling along this alley on June 7, 1967.
Did they remember the failure to free the besieged Jewish Quarter from this alley in 1948?
Did they know the last Jew to leave the Jewish Quarter, headed to Jordanian prison for nine months, was a 15-year-old, Eli Kedar?
Did they appreciate their commanders’ genius in mostly attacking from behind, via Lions Gate?
Did they know Israel began the war two days earlier with only 71 troops in Jerusalem?
Were they aware that, even while the Jordanians shelled Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minster Levi Eshkol offered peace to Jordan’s King Hussein, making the war one of self-defense and any resulting territorial gains not an illegal occupation?
Did they sense they were about to correct the historic mistake of the city’s division, returning the Holy Temple’s remnants to Jewish sovereignty after 2000 years?
Did they appreciate their army’s sensitivity in deploying archaeologists to try preserving holy sites?
And this also seems significant:
Entering the Jewish quarter I again ponder the nineteen years preceding the Six Day War when Israel – living under Barack Obama’s 1967 borders – were banned from the Old City, although the UN never validated Jordanian control. Those, ahem, illegal occupiers trashed Jerusalem’s synagogues.
Contrast that bitter past to the redemptive sights and sounds of kids playing and praying, the burger bars adjoining archaeological museums, the glorious dome of the Hurva synagogue, which means ruins: bombarded by Jordan in 1948; rebuilt and rededicated last year.
As I finish by sprinting along the newly-restored century-old train tracks, I toast the city’s dynamism. The 800,000 residents now include 268,000 Arabs. During these 44 years, as their population has grown by 200,000, many Arabs have appreciated Israeli rights and services. The number of Arab Jerusalemites granted Israeli citizenship quadrupled from 2006 to 2010.
In Six Days of War, Michael Oren quotes Arik Akhmon one of the first Israelis in 1967 to enter the Western Wall plaza, as bullets whizzed by. Although not religious, Akhmon recalled, “I don’t think there was a man who wasn’t overwhelmed with emotion. Something special had happened.”
During the process of seeing so-called "negotiations" over various parts of Israel and Jerusalem, it may be easy to forget the history of the region. Certainly those who wish to remove the Jews and the Nation of Israel completely would like for us to forget.
But we have to always remember: This land belonged to the Nation of Israel thousands of years (not decades and not centuries) before Islam was even a passing thought - before Muhammed even thought about creating his false religion.
And the land was given to the Nation of Israel by God Himself.
We can never forget that fact.