Jerusalem Day Part 1
Today Israel celebrates the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. It was highlighted by a couple of things. One was a celebratory parade through the streets of the city. The second was an invitation by acting president Dahlia Yitzik to foreign diplomatic representatives to attend the Knesset commemoration ceremony and their subsequent refusal. Thus, the "boycott' by foreign ambassadors, of the ceremony.
The first thing-the parade-I watched a little bit on TV. It was cute and only demonstrated how humble and simple this country can be at times as a stream of tractors pulled what looked like high school homecoming parade floats down the street. I was also happy to see a healthy representation of non-kippah wearing participants, demonstrating that, for at least some secular Israelis, Jerusalem still has meaning.
Regarding the second thing-Dahlia Yitzik's naïve open invitation to the diplomatic core and their expected refusal-it only served to focus attention on Jerusalem's unfortunate international status. It is not recognized by any nation on earth as Israel's capital.
Even the UN partition plan envisioned Jerusalem as having some sort of international status. However, because of Arab rejection of the partition, Jewish acceptance and the 1948 war, the planned internationalization became moot. In the book O Jerusalem, there are a couple of paragraphs describing the UN partition committee sitting in Jerusalem working on mundane things such as bus transportation while the fighting rages around them. This is what the international boycott of Jerusalem has become-a policy so entrenched that it has a life of its own, despite the reality on the ground. Continued rejection of Israel's sovereign right to Jerusalem as its capital actually prejudices final status talks, despite the opinion of most foreign governments to the contrary. It strengthens Palestinians, helping to support their dreams of ruling all of Jerusalem and eliminating the Jewish state. It de-legitimizes Israel's claim to Jerusalem (or at least 1/2 of Jerusalem) as its capital in any final status discussions.
This would have been a good opportunity for Israel to come out with a strong statement regarding Jerusalem as the capital in order to challenge the international community and its policy. Instead, the prime ministers office said nothing, and the foreign ministry came out with the expected basic statement of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish people. Yada Yada Yada.
Still, it is time for celebration. Jerusalem day does also mark the return of the Jews to the old city of Jerusalem after having been expelled by the Jordanians when they conquered the city in 1948. And despite all of the diplomatic problems, Jerusalem day does commemorate the first time in over two thousand years that Jews gained sovereignty over their ancient capitol. The historical, religious and political significance of this is cannot to be ignored. Whether we can live up to the responsibility that this entails is yet to be determined.
Is It Good For the Jews #1
Jerusalem Day Part 1