There is no Zionism without Jerusalem (JERUSALEM POST OP-ED) By ILANA BROWN 05/21/12)
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This week celebrates 45 years since the reunification of Jerusalem
after the miraculous Six Day War. One of the most emotional documents
in the historical record is the audio recording of the paratroopers
entering the Lions’ Gate and arriving at the Western Wall.
The version of the recording available on the Internet has been
shortened but the original translated text is still available. The
radio broadcaster reports from within the walls of the Old City
describing his emotions upon reaching the stones of the Western Wall.
Soldiers recite the Shehechianu prayer. Rabbi Shlomo Goren sings El
Maleh Rachamim in honor of those who have fallen and in the recording
one can hear the soldiers’ heart-rending sobs. The shofar is blown
and Goren says that it is in this year that we are in a rebuilt
Jerusalem is part of the Jewish people in the same way that the heart
is part of the human body. It is not merely an organ that keeps the
body functioning. Without it there would be no life. The last line of
the Passover Seder calls for “Next Year in Jerusalem!” Before the
groom breaks the glass at his wedding he says “If I forget thee, O
Jerusalem...” When Jews pray, they face Jerusalem. Ethiopian Israelis
have chosen Jerusalem Day to commemorate the Ethiopians who died on
the long trek to Israel. The song “Jerusalem of Gold” is recognized
the world over.
The national anthem of Israel concludes with the line “To be a free
people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.” Both with
religious and secular associations, the list goes on and on.
The State of Israel passed a law in 1980 declaring that “Jerusalem,
complete and united, is the capital of Israel.” While not
internationally recognized as such, until the law is changed,
Jerusalem is the complete and united capital of the sovereign State
By law, by religion, by emotion, Jerusalem is the center, the core,
the heart of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
Along with the idea of two states for two peoples, we are asked to
consider Jerusalem as the shared capital for these two states. We are
told that holding Arab-majority neighborhoods in east Jerusalem as
jailers is morally abhorrent. We are told that misguided Zionism has
turned us into overlords. It might be suggested that Jerusalem was
divided from 1948-1967 and it did not destroy the State of Israel or
substantially damage the Jewish people around the world.
I would suggest a different perspective and a different understanding
of the big picture. In theory, a shared capital sounds both fair and
logical. Even an international city sounds like a legitimate argument
for the status of Jerusalem. This would require Israel to change its
own sovereign law, divide its own capital city, compromise its own
religious feeling toward Jerusalem and limit its secular love of the
ancient city of Jerusalem.
Arab-majority neighborhoods are a different question. I propose that
this is a social issue, not a question of Zionism or even the status
of Jerusalem. Every major city in the world has less desirable
neighborhoods. Poverty and crime are more obvious. The police
presence there is greater. Classical Zionism tells us that the Jewish
people have a legitimate right to live in the historic land of
Israel. It did not provide a plan for a utopian society or even a
framework for solving societal ills. It is our responsibility today
to face these challenges, not to delegitimize our own existence or
undermine the idea of Zionism.
From the year 70 CE, when Jerusalem fell to the Romans, until 1967,
the city was not under Jewish control. And yet, Jews around the world
continued to yearn for Jerusalem – not for Tiberias, not for Safed,
not for Hebron. In 1948, when the Jewish state was established and
immediately plunged into a war, the infant state was not able to hold
Jerusalem. But still the people yearned for Jerusalem. And finally,
when the paratroopers entered the Old City on June 7, 1967, religious
and secular alike were awed by their achievement.
Lt.-Gen. Mordechai “Motta” Gur, commander of the force in the Old
City, a secular, native-born Jerusalemite, declared “The Temple Mount
is in our hands! I repeat, the Temple Mount is in our hands!” He did
not say “The Old City” or “The Jewish Quarter.” Rather, his Jewish
heart told him that the important thing was the Temple Mount; the
Temple Mount was in our hands.
When a people fulfill a dream, a 1,900-year-old dream, how does that
people abandon it and give it to someone else? How does one give up
even part of that dream? Zionism tells us that we have a legitimate
right to have a state in our historic homeland. The heart of our
homeland is Jerusalem. We need not apologize for advocating for our
right to the Zionist dream, nor for fulfilling that dream.
So on this Jerusalem Day, imagine a Jewish homeland in Uganda, or in
Alaska, or in Madagascar. Why does a Jewish homeland anywhere else
seem hollow and empty? The answer is Jerusalem.
The writer lives and works in Jerusalem and volunteers for Im Tirzu.
(© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/21/12)
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