Jerusalem Day

LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION ARTICLE FOR

June 4, 2016 by William H. Scarle, Jr. 813-835-0129

Jerusalem Day in Israel will be held this year on Sunday, June 5.  On the Hebrew calendar the day is Iyyar 28 and it begins at sunset on Saturday.  This day marks the unification of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War of 1967, forty-nine years ago.

After the Second World War the United Nations put forth a plan to partition Israel into a Jewish state and an Arab state, with Jerusalem kept as an international city for a period of ten years, at which time there would be a referendum where the residents of Jerusalem could decide with which country to align themselves.  Between the two World Wars Israel had been a British Mandate.  Jewish leadership accepted the plan but the Arabs rejected it outright.

With the rejection of partition Israel declared its independence in May of 1948.  The new nation was immediately attacked by a coalition of the Arab states of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.  The War of Independence lasted from May of 1948 to July of 1949.  When the armistice agreements were signed that brought peace to the region the so called “West Bank” was still in Jordanian hands.  Israel decided to push forward with nation building rather than continue the struggle for the West Bank.  That decision left Jerusalem divided between Jordanian control and Israeli control.  Jordan held the Old City in its territory.

Under Jordanian rule twenty-nine of the Old City’s synagogues were demolished.  The centuries old cemetery on the Mount of Olives was plundered and the tomb stones used for paving stones, building materials and latrines.  The Jewish Quarter of the Old City was literally destroyed.

In 1967 the Six Day War broke out.  Prior to the conflict Israel sent word to King Hussein of Jordan that Israel would not attack the West Bank so long as Jordan refrained from hostilities along the eastern border.  Jordan however was pressured by Egypt to attack Jerusalem.  Israel responded and the next day Israel had captured the Old City of Jerusalem.  It was Iyar 28, 5727 on the Hebrew calendar.

It needs to be said that the Israel’s relationship with both Jordan and Egypt are much more cordial today than they were in 1967.  There is a peace treaty with both nations, although it is sometimes fragile.

Upon the capture of the Old City Moshe Dayan, Israel’s Defense Minister said the following.

“This morning the Israel Defense Forces liberated Jerusalem.  We have united Jerusalem, the divided capital of Israel.  We have returned to the holiest of our holy places, never to part from it again.  To our Arab neighbors we extend, also at this hour – and with added emphasis at this hour- our hand of peace.  And to our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens, we solemnly promise full religious freedom and rights.  We did not come to Jerusalem for the sake of other peoples’ holy places, and not to interfere with the adherents of other faiths, but in order to safeguard its entirety and to live there together with others, in unity.”

The Psalmist admonishes us, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!  May they be secure who love you!  Peace be within your walls and security within your towers (122:6&7)!”

(Bill Scarle can be contacted at ravscarle@verizon.net). END-whs