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Damper on Jerusalem Day

24 May 2007

by Yisrael Ne’eman

This year’s 40th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem was for the most part cancelled by torrential rains flooding out the ceremonies held in honor of Jerusalem – the “United Eternal Capital” of Israel and the Jewish People. The time has arrived for the myth of a united Jerusalem to be washed away. No one remembers such a late rainstorm as such and everyone is asking the question of why it happened on Jerusalem Day. This writer takes full responsibility for his interpretations as listed below.

First the number 40 is equivalent to the Hebrew letter “mem” which is dominant in the word for water – “mayim” as well as is the first letter in the words “matar” (shower) and “mabul” (flood). “Mitzi’ut” (reality) begins with a “mem”. The word for rain is “geshem” which when extended to meaning the physical or material becomes the word “gashmi”. To realize, embody or materialize a goal is “hitgashem”. All three come from the same root “g-sh-m”. We were doused with reality on our 40th anniversary celebrations in honor of the unification of Jerusalem.

And how so? The 1948 War of Independence ended with East Jerusalem including the Old City, the Jewish Quarter, the Temple Mount (Western Wall) in Jordan. All Jews fled into West Jerusalem while Jewish property was looted throughout the Old City and the Jewish Quarter ransacked and burned. The Jordanians declared it the “ex- Jewish Quarter” and decided on its annexation to the Moslem Quarter in the mid- sixties. Nineteen years later and after the full realignment of the Jewish calendar – both lunar and solar, the 1967 Six Day War brought about the rebuilding of the Jewish Quarter by the State of Israel and certain Messianic expectations. The Old City and East Jerusalem were annexed and Jerusalem became the “United, Eternal Capital”. Massive Jewish neighborhoods were planned and then built by Palestinian workers.

These workers and their families moved to Jerusalem and the Arab population has increased some five times since 1967 to over a quarter of a million. In 1967 Jews made up approximately 75% of the capital’s population. Forty years later we are only 65% and the trend is continually downwards. Jerusalem is the city with the largest Arab population in the country and although it is the seat of the government, legislature and judiciary – the majority of the population is not Zionist and does not support the Jewish State. How so? In addition to the 35% pro-Palestinian and pro-Islamic factions (Hamas also exists in the capital), the anti-Zionist and a-Zionist Haredi (ultra-orthodox) constitute at least another 20%.

Financially, Jerusalem is the most destitute city in the country. Secular and modern orthodox Jews are leaving the city as the tax base continues to narrow while non-working large Haredi families become a greater percentage of the Jewish population all the time. The Arab community is constantly growing as many relocate from the West Bank in search of jobs and social services and Palestinians are expected to become the majority in less than 20 years. Just stand outside unemployment and social security offices in Jerusalem and one realizes that Jerusalem Arabs are exercising their full rights in regards to the their blue Israeli identity cards.

Enter any Arab neighborhood and one realizes immediately that they are not in Jewish Jerusalem. Palestinian flags fly high, brochures handed out in hotels welcome visitors to Palestine and pictures of Arafat and other Palestinian heroes are extant. The myth of Jerusalem’s unification forty years later is a sham.

 

Yes, Jews hoped and prayed and desired an overwhelmingly Jewish Jerusalem four decades ago in the euphoria after the Six Day War. Many Arab neighborhoods were annexed without future consideration for national/demographic issues (north Jerusalem was sequestered in order to include today’s non-functioning Atarot airport) and today we are paying the price for our emotional response and lack of planning.

Leaving ceremony aside, Jerusalem is one of the most divided cities in the world. It is time we faced the reality of a non-Zionist and soon to be non-Jewish Jerusalem. We need to know the truth and begin to implement reasonable solutions. Israeli ID cards given to Palestinian Arabs whose neighborhoods were annexed in 1967 must be rescinded along with the annexation. Most of East Jerusalem should be treated as is the rest of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) with no quasi-Israeli citizenship (resident rights) as held by Jerusalem Arabs. The Old City and surrounding neighborhoods must remain in Israel’s hands.

Job training must be offered for Haredi families who want to work and the general secular and modern orthodox population must be enticed to move to Jerusalem through increased job opportunities, better schools and a concrete realistic vision of a modern Zionist future for the capital not contained in the full municipal boundaries of today’s city where many an ideological and religious abyss divides Arabs and Jews.

Somehow this is all reminiscent of the last military parade seen in the city in May 1973 celebrating Israel’s 25th anniversary. It was a very impressive affair until the realities of Yom Kippur War that same year came crashing down on our heads. Just like there are no military parades anymore maybe this year’s Jerusalem Day downpour will have the same sobering effect.

But here one must overcome an entrenched myth and unfortunately to do so usually takes some sort of catastrophe. Having lost a Zionist Jerusalem we are now on the verge of losing Jewish Jerusalem. Let us hope that we understand the “gashmi” realities of Judaism’s most holy city and act accordingly before today’s Jewish Jerusalem becomes a distant memory like those we lament on Tisha B’Av.