“The eternal capital of the Jewish people… now and forever”
Sunday, June 02, 2019 | David Lazarus
It’s a holiday and a Holy Day where the streets of Jerusalem are filled with music and covered with blue and white as the nation comes up to celebrate the miracle that the City of Gold is in the faithful hands of the Jewish Nation once again after 2000 years.
It is perhaps the only time that both religious and secular Jews celebrate together with prayers and dancing in a public demonstration of the fulfillment of the biblical prophecies, which declare: “There shall again be joyful sounds in the streets of Jerusalem.”
Following Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, Jerusalem was a divided city. For 19 years, West Jerusalem belonged to Israel, while East Jerusalem was held by Jordan. It was only in 1967, on the third day of the Six-Day War, that IDF paratroopers commanded by Col. Motta Gur (a future Chief of Staff) broke through the Jordanian defenses and recaptured the Old City and East Jerusalem. The reunification of Jerusalem was celebrated with Gur’s famous declaration, “The Temple Mount is in our hands!”
This year’s Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim) marks 52 years of the return of Jerusalem to Jewish hands. For the first time in 30 years, police are reporting that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem will be closed to Jewish visitors due to security concerns.
“Among the dreamy pines
As evening light is slowly dying
And a lonely bell still chimes,
So many songs, so many stories
The stony hills recall …
Around her heart my city carries
A lonely ancient wall.
These beautiful words of longing and love to Jerusalem — sometimes described as Israel’s second national anthem — were written some 52 years ago by legendary composer and writer Naomi Shemer. She penned them a short while before the Six-Day War that resulted in reunification of Jerusalem.
On Sunday, June 2, we will celebrate the youngest Israeli national holiday, which commemorates the reunification of Jerusalem and the establishment of Israeli control over the Old City. Yom Yerushalayim, or Jerusalem Day, marks the 1967 return of the Old City to the heart of the Jewish people, along with the only remainder from the Second Temple, the Western Wall, which is now under Israel’s rule in the modern State of Israel.
Jerusalem, Zion, was, is and will always will be the heart of Judaism. In the Hebrew Bible, the name Jerusalem is mentioned 669 times. Jews never left Jerusalem, physically or spiritually.”
Over 50 years after the Six-Day War, Russia and the United States are convening a joint security summit in Israel, while Arab states have come to terms with the fact that we cannot be defeated through war or even by a protracted terror campaign.
The welcome news that Russia decided to forego its sale of S-300 anti-aircraft systems to Syria reminds many of newspaper headlines from 52 years ago, which incidentally also appeared around the festive Shavuot holiday. The main photograph in the Maariv daily was of an SM-2 surface-to-air missile, captured during the Six-Day War. The particularly long missile was dubbed “a flying electric pole,” which accelerates at great speeds toward its high-altitude target. This missile, together with its more advanced models – the SA-3 and SA-6 – downed a large number of Israeli planes throughout the War of Attrition and Yom Kippur War.
Many years have passed, and the balance of power between Israel and its neighbors has shifted considerably: Israel now has complete air superiority and the risk of losing aircraft is negligible. While there is no room for complacency, the current reality is utterly different. The air force and other military branches are developing anti-missile and radar systems, which greatly reduce the potency of the Russian-made SA-300.
The latest news illustrates that Russia of today is not the Soviet Union of 50 years ago, nor is it the Russia of the previous decade. The willingness to convene a joint security summit in Israel (not a “peace summit”), with senior American counterparts, enhances Israel’s standing.
Two days before the outbreak of the Six-Day War, France was still an ally of Israel. However, then-French President Charles de Gaulle chose to impose an embargo that effectively quashed the sale of French planes and weapons to Israel and mainly spare parts for equipment. This crisis gave birth to Israel’s independent development of weapons systems, including the Merkava tank, and the Nesher and Kfir fighter jets. This, essentially, was the backdrop for the tremendous growth spurt of Israel’s defense industry. The Soviet Union, for its part, continued arming Arab countries without restraint.
Amid the backdrop of the current diplomatic developments – the strengthening of Israel-U.S. ties; the special relationship between Israel and Russia; recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which was captured in the Six-Day War; the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and other achievements – I recall the words of then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, who said: “We’re happy where we now stand.”
And here we stand today, more than 50 years later; Arab states have come to terms with the fact that we cannot be defeated in war or even through a protracted campaign of terror. Israel’s cooperation with a significant number of Arab countries in the struggle against Iran, the world’s leading exporter of terror for 40 years now, their rapprochement with Israel and the Israeli government’s steadfast adherence to the fundamental principles of its existence, illuminate the path for a better future for Israel and its neighbors.