Jerusalem Day – 2021
FIFTY-FOUR YEARS have passed since Colonel Mordechai “Motta” Gur, commander of the 66th Paratroop (Res.) Brigade, broadcast the epic words “The Temple Mount is in our hands after the battle for Jerusalem’s Old City was won in the 1967 Six-Day War. Jerusalem had been a hard fight, and the city’s liberation was paid for in the blood of many brave soldiers. Militarily, Jerusalem was of little value. In spiritual currency, it meant everything.
Israel’s victory in the conflict was seen as nothing short of miraculous. The symbolic images of paratroopers liberating the Western Wall of the Second Temple became spiritual landmarks for Jews around the world who rejoiced that the epicenter of their faith was once and for all reunited to become the unequivocal capital of the modern Jewish state. Jerusalem Day, celebrated ever since on the Hebrew calendar anniversary of the city’s reunification, marks the moment that the Israeli and Jewish capital, divided in the War of Independence, became one. The day, a national and religious holiday rejoices the epic moment in the long history of an ancient resolve.
Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world and it is situated at the crossroads of history and conquering empires who were willing to risk everything to hold it. The Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Ottomans, and forces from the British Empire, all controlled Jerusalem at one point in the city’s history. Transjordan’s British-led Arab Legion laid siege to the Jewish half of the city during the 1948 War of Israeli Independence; some of the costliest battles of that war were fought to try and hold on to the city, as well as courageous efforts against overwhelming odds to supply the besieged residents with food and medicine. In the 1967 War, Israeli forces paid a dear price for every inch of the city they liberated. The names of places like Ammunition Hill and the Police Academy have become synonymous with heroism and sacrifice. That history becomes etched on the faces of every young conscript when they make the pilgrimage to the Western Wall to swear an oath to the IDF and the State of Israel.
Jerusalem has endured more than its share of war and bloodshed, but the city’s resilience as the eternal capital of the Jewish people endures. In recent years, terrorists have robbed the city of innocent men, women, and children in insidious campaigns of indiscriminate violence meant to inflict untold loss of life. In two intifadas, Palestinian terrorists killed scores in a suicide bombing campaign that targeted Jerusalem’s buses, cafés, schools, and houses of worship. The suffering was incalculable. But a unified Jerusalem survived and thrived despite the best attempts of Israel’s enemies.
Sadly, Israel’s enemies have not shelved their violent intentions. Jerusalem is once again under attack. Today, the Palestinian Authority, Fatah, and especially Hamas—fueled by Iranian agents and money—try once again to ignite violence inside the Israeli capital. They will not win. Israel’s security forces—soldiers, police officers, and intelligence specialists—work around the clock making sure that they never win. Any attempt to divide or destroy the city, and the spirit it represents, will be defeated.
This above all else is why Jerusalem Day is more than a holiday. It is a statement beamed to the world that after exile, persecution, genocide, and war, the eternal capital of the State of Israel and the home of the Jewish people will never be divided again.