Jerusalem Day? Jerusalem Liberation Day!

I remember it as if just happened while writing this piece.On 7 June 1967, a little after 10 A.M , the Voice of Israel announced with less drama than what was justified, that ”the IDF burst into the old city of Jerusalem”. Words which sent shivers all over me then, words which send shivers all over me right now. I looked for my mother to see her reaction, and found her in her bedroom crying; ”you ”, she said to me , ”cannot really understand.The dream is a reality”. But I understood, exactly because my parents kept telling me , that the return to Zion would never be complete without Jerusalem. So, let us start with the name given to the day since then-Jerusalem Day, the Day of Reunification . Yes, the two sides of the city were reunited, but it was an act of liberation which made it possible. Where else can Jews be liberators if not in Jerusalem?. Names are significant, they are symbols , and symbols are so important for every national movement, surely to us, Zionists.

With the danger of sounding patronizing, maybe even anachronistic, I take the liberty of reminding us all of some undisputed historic facts. Jerusalem has never been a capital of any Arab and Muslim state , not also after the Jordanian occupation and illegal annexation in 1948. In 1948, as for a century earlier, the Jews were the largest ethnic/religious community in Jerusalem, including in the old city. The Jordanian commander who invaded Jerusalem and occupied the old city Abdallah al Tal, wrote in his memoirs , published in 1959;”For the first time in 1,000 years not a single Jew remains in the Jewish quarter. not a single building remains intact. This makes the Jews’ return here impossible”. Oh yeah, ethnic cleansing of the Jews , with ALL the synagogues there [over 60], desecrated and ruined, and our Holy Kotel vandalized, becoming the place for horses to do their business. Only the Jews were prevented from 1948 to 1967, to visit their holy cites. Only us, the Jews! .Not one protest ever from the State Department, from the Europeans, from the Vatican. Not one, nada, zero, Klum, mafish … Not even from bleeding heart American and other Liberals, Jews and non-Jews alike. The fall of Jerusalem, the fall of Judea and Samaria in 1948, were a Jewish disaster. The removal by occupation of Jews from their homeland, the ethnic cleansing of our homeland. David Ben Gurion called it ”Bchiyya ledorot-cry for generations”, but it took us less than a generation to return, to liberate Our Jerusalem. How wrong was the Jordanian commander.

So, this is the day nagila venishmecha bo-the day we should be happy and rejoice. Nothing is more natural than Jews marching in Jerusalem, celebrating a great national victory. Nothing is more unnatural, than Jews who lament this fact, who are pained to see so many Israeli flags raised proudly in joy. Especially, that among those so-called ”peace activists”, ”dialogue seekers”, there are so many who did not voice even the faintest of protests when hundreds of PLO and red flags were raised in Tel Aviv few days ago. So, is it just a question of what flag we like, or is it a bigger issue at stake here?. I happen to think, that the non/ post/anti Zionists are up and arms against the Jerusalem liberation celebrations because for them Jerusalem is an occupied city, because they accept it being occupied by Arabs without Jews around, and do not accept it being controlled by Jews with many Arabs in. It is a much bigger issue for them than just misbehavior by some Jubilant young Jews celebrating the day. It is the whole issue of Jewish rights which they find so difficult to accept. Rights is word which is reserved to Arabs only, history
is only from 1967, and so on and so forth.

That said; Jews celebrating in Jerusalem should not provoke Arabs-this is intolerable!. They should not march in the Muslim and Christian quarters, and sadly enough, if the day comes , we shall have to make concessions EVEN in Jerusalem. We shall have to make them amid crying, not in joy. Joy should be reserved only to the natural, justified celebration of the liberation of Jerusalem in the war of self-defense in June 1967.

About the Author
Dr Josef Olmert, a Middle East expert, is currently an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina