The Battle for Jerusalem

Months of constant Arab rioting on the Temple Mount and throughout the eastern parts of the city, as well as a spate of recent terrorist attacks, all point to the undeniable fact that the battle for Jerusalem has begun.

Although it’s true that many Israeli Jews would prefer to continue living in a comfortable state of denial rather than acknowledging this unpleasant fact, events are quickly making this option impossible.

For unlike Tel Aviv or Haifa, Jerusalem is not just another Israeli city. Likewise, it is much more than merely the home of Israel’s parliament.  Simply stated, Jerusalem is the heart and soul of the Jewish people.  Still further, within Jerusalem is located the only place in the world that has the potential to unite all of the Jewish people around a collective, as opposed to a personal, mission-oriented identity.  And despite popular belief this place that has the ability to raise a Jew above his own narrow self- interest is neither Yad Vashem nor the Kotel but rather the Temple Mount.

Thus, if we continue to ignore what is happening in Jerusalem, as we ignored for years the plight of those living in communities adjacent to Gaza, what does this say about our future as a people? Similarly, does it mean that we have no more red lines or that perhaps we’ve become totally indifferent to the place that represents the very core of our Jewish identity?  Furthermore, do we truly believe that we’ll remain in this land if we turn our back on Jerusalem the way that we’ve turned our back on the suffering of the unfortunate Jews stuck living amongst the African infiltrators in south Tel Aviv?

Whether we like it or not, the Arabs are turning up the heat in Jerusalem. They’ve seen how we’ve pulled out of Gaza, given up on much of Judea & Samaria, turned a blind eye to the trampling of Israeli sovereignty in parts of the Negev and the Galil and relinquished, for all intents and purposes, control of the Temple Mount to the Islamic waqf of Jordan.  Moreover, they’re keenly aware that the Arab terror that has accompanied these Israeli concessions has had almost no negative effect on the broad international support and sympathy that they enjoy.

Not surprisingly, they’re now going for the jugular and challenging us over Jerusalem. This of course explains the daily sabotaging of the Jerusalem light rail in the Arab parts of the city.  Although standard establishment logic would say that they’re shooting themselves in the foot since the railroad provides them with quick access to the center of town, the Arabs see the railroad as an attempt by Israel to connect all of Jerusalem in order to strengthen Israeli sovereignty over the entire city.  Understood this way, the disruption of the train service is perfectly logical and it fits in with the broader Arab unrest in Jerusalem.

The question, therefore, is what will we do? Will we continue living in a state of denial, clinging to the naïve hope that if we just give in a little more everything with the Arabs will somehow get better?  Moreover, if this is the case then perhaps it’s just hiding the fact that we’ve simply evolved into a nation that is more interested in sipping its daily cappuccino and taking an occasional vacation trip to Europe than in dealing with truly existential issues.

Or will we wake up in time and realize that the fight for Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, is really a fight for our Jewish identity and collective existence as a people in the land of Israel? Likewise, will we understand before it’s too late that if we’re not willing to make a stand for Jerusalem, regardless of what the hypocritical world will say, then there’s a real chance that we might just lose this country?

Finally, my intention here is not to criticize my fellow Jews. I’m simply concerned, in fact very concerned, that we don’t fully understand the ramifications of continuing with the habitual pattern of giving in to Arab aggression, this time in Jerusalem.

About the Author
Yoel Meltzer is a freelance writer with an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from New York University. A former New Yorker, he moved to Israel in 1996 and currently lives with his wife and four children in Jerusalem. He can be contacted at