Two years after the Six Day War, Jerusalem was still a small town. As a visiting Hebrew University student, I shared an apartment in Givat Shaul, a short walk across Sderot Herzl and down Rechov Ruppin from the University at Givat Ram. Har Hatzofim was in the process of re-building. It was a time of incredible national pride. Israel was invincible. We were able to go wherever we wanted. Walking through the shuk in the Old City was second nature without the least bit of concern. Likewise the Casbah in Shechem. We toured and “tremped” without concern all through Yehuda and Shomron. There was no doubt in our minds, this was our land and Jerusalem was our capital.
Events of recent days got me to thinking and remembering that time almost 50 years ago. The move of the American embassy to Jerusalem and the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has created so much excitement, becoming the news event of the year. American flags hanging side by side with Israeli flags from lamp posts all over town. Large banners and posters thanking the USA and especially President Trump. Live broadcasts of the ceremony opening the embassy on all the networks (and on CNN, Fox, etc. as well), with practically the entire hierarchy of the Israeli government in attendance, all so thankful that the USA has finally recognized that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
And all I could think of was …. Wait a minute!! What happened in the last 50 years? Where had that feeling of pride and self-worth gone? Now Jerusalem is our capital? I had always thought that King David made Jerusalem our capital. Ok, maybe you don’t want to rely on a biblical claim, the government of Israel declared Jerusalem our capital in 1948. It has been our capital for 70 years. Did we need the approbation of the United States to really feel that Jerusalem is our capital? Jerusalem is no more significant with the US embassy now located within its boundaries. We should be the ones to determine our capital, not the recognition by a foreign government. It seems that we have yet to shed that “galut” mentality of needing the approval of the rest of the world.
So, I prepared to watch the ceremony with the idea that all I really wanted to see was how many anti-Israel and anti-Trump commentators could be squeezed in on the networks between the live coverage of the speeches. As I listened, a different feeling came over me. Without even realizing it, seeing this event, left me with a feeling of pride and appreciation that I had lived to see this day. It took me awhile to realize that “our pride was still there”. It was a pride that Israel had stayed true to its ideal that Jerusalem is its eternal capital, and that this refusal to give in, that this patient reliance on its principles led to the beginning of the fulfillment of the biblical prophecy of the nations of the world coming to Jerusalem. I began to understand why my eyes were watering. Just could not help it.