#Jerusalem50: Who’s afraid of celebrating Israel’s 1967 victory?

50th anniversary of Reunited Jerusalem

With all the amazing celebrations, moving ceremonies and glorious jubilations at the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification and the liberation of Judea and Samaria from the hands of the Jordanian occupier, it has been easy to overlook the fact that there are some people, yes, even Jews, even Israelis, who cannot bring themselves to celebrate. To them the Six Day War victory means, in effect, that Israel became an “evil occupier”. No matter that one cannot “occupy” one’s own territory, and the previous occupants were indeed occupiers in the worst sense, such timid doubters cannot bring themselves to view Israel’s presence in all of Jerusalem and in our heartland of Judea and Samaria as anything but evil.

In answer to these lily-livered doubters, Gil Troy (not a hard-right extremist by any stretch of the imagination” has a hard-hitting answer. He calls these people “Cowards who fear celebrating Jerusalem’s Jew-bilee”:

It’s reassuring to smell cowardice in opponents, but depressing to see it in friends: the quivering lips, the darting eyes, the sweaty palms. Alas, many American Jews are emitting the stink of the scaredycat these days. Too many are dodging the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the Six Day War, and especially of Jerusalem’s reunification – or burdening what should be festive celebrations with craven equivocations and politically correct genuflections about Palestinian suffering that obscure Israel’s extraordinary June 1967 triumph.

Seeking to avoid war is noble; apologizing for winning is disgraceful. I am proud that Jews sing songs of peace, crave reconciliation and regret killing. However, true peaceniks are realistic optimists, not naïve masochists.

Had Israel lost in 1967 there would be no Israel.

“Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel,” Egypt’s dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser vowed that May. Those were the stakes: Jewish women would have been raped then slaughtered; Jewish men would have been tortured then butchered. Jerusalem would sit atop one more layer of ruins – from the 19-year failed Jewish state. Tel Aviv would be a mass tombstone, reduced to rubble like the Jewish towns Palestinian radicals destroyed after the 2005 Gaza Disengagement, but this time with corpses rotting underneath.

Arab cartoon in 1967: Nasser kicking the Jews into the sea

And while Palestinians masquerade as victims, having convinced many that the Palestinian problem began when Israel won in 1967, consider two inconvenient truths. The PLO began three years before the Six Day War, in 1964, demanding Palestine’s complete “liberation,” defining the land as an “indivisible territorial unit,” and negating Zionism, rejecting all “claims of historic and spiritual ties between Jews and Palestine.” Furthermore, the PLO’s founding chairman, Ahmad Shukeiri, joined the bloodthirsty chorus that stressful spring of ’67, calling the upcoming war “a fight for the homeland – it is either us or the Israelis. There is no middle road.”

Beyond authoritatively teaching that losing would have annihilated Israel, history suggests that if Israel had not won decisively, Palestinians and the international community today would demand territory from within the pre-1967 borders.

In 1967, while the Arab defeat calmed Jews and freedom- lovers worldwide, Jerusalem’s liberation and reunification unleashed a euphoria worth replicating when celebrating today. The secular Israeli commander Motta Gur’s redemptive declaration – “the Temple Mount is in our hands” – united religious and secular Jews thrilled that Israelis were healing Jewish history’s great traumas – the Second Temple’s destruction, millennia of persecution, millions slaughtered in our powerlessness.

When the army’s chief rabbi, Shlomo Goren, blew his shofar by the Western Wall, that piercing sound stirred Jews who hadn’t realize how much they cared about Israel – and supported Israel enthusiastically ever after. When the IDF showed how the Jordanians trashed the Old City’s synagogues, Jews appreciated the victory even more – reminded again what could have happened. And when those gruff kibbutznikim who killed in the Golan Heights, bled in the Sinai, cried at the Wall and mingled delight in the victory with sadness at being forced to kill, Jews toasted their humanity.

Army Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren blows the Shofar at the Kotel

AFTER JUNE 1967, Jews thronged to Jerusalem, ascending, relishing the aftermath, this bizarre, then-novel phenomenon of happy, proud, strong, successful Jews. The great Jewish liberal Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., captured American Jews’ mood. “The major weakness was to take the State of Israel for granted, to cease to wonder at the marvel of its sheer being,” he wrote. “We forgot the awful pangs of birth, the holiness of the deed, the dedication of the spirit. We saw the [Tel Aviv] Hilton and forgot Tel Hai.”

Too many American Jews take Israel for granted today. Looking toward this meaningful milestone, can’t we try, for once, to appreciate Israel because of a happy event, not a trauma; can’t we embrace the Jewish state out of love, not dread? We must be brave enough to cheer this victory, understanding that Israel deserves a Jerusalem “Jew-bilee” jamboree – and that our enemies are more likely to respect us and even compromise when we are resolute – not wimpy.

In a similar vein, but written much more poetically, the following is what the late Elie Wiesel wrote about Israel’s victory just mere days afterwards, on June 12th 1967:

Elie Wiesel

Future generations will probably never believe it. Teachers will have a hard time convincing their students that what sounds legendary actually occurred. The children will, naturally, swallow each word, but later on, as adults, they’ll nod their heads and smile, remarking that these were fantasies of history.

They won’t believe that this small state, surrounded by hatred, fire and murder, had so quickly managed a miracle. It will be hard to describe how, amid a sea of hatred, a tiny army drove off and humiliated several well-equipped military hordes of who knows how many Arab countries.How does acclaimed scholar and talmudic genius Shaul Lieberman put it? In another 2,000 years, people will consider these events the way we think of descriptions of the Maccabees and their victories.

Did I say another 2,000 years? No, make that in another year, or even tomorrow.

Last Sunday, the Arabs and their allies were boastfully threatening Israel that if she dared to make another move, she’d pay with her existence. And several hours later our Jewish heroes advanced, and the entire world, holding its breath, followed their every movement.

Arab cartoon 1967: Tel Aviv in ruins with piles of Jewish corpses

You’ll recall the radio broadcasts at the beginning of the week that sounded practically Job-like. Every hour, another Arab government declared war against Israel. Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia. And then: Morocco, Tunisia, Algiers. In Tunisia, an incited mob led a pogrom in the Jewish Quarter. Other Muslim — or part Muslim — countries rushed to sign up in [Egyptian president Gamal Abdul] Nasser’s “holy war.” Malaysia, Sudan, Mali, Guinea and more.

And then, between Passover and Shavuot, the Hanukkah miracle occurred. It didn’t take long before the supposedly mighty enemy was rendered speechless and lost its nerve. Even the Soviet Ambassador to the UN, Nikolai Fedorenko, suddenly changed his tone. Instead of worrying about whether Nasser would finally curb his appetite for power, world leaders began looking for ways to make amends to Israeli Premier Levi Eshkol.

It was as though a theater director, unfamiliar with his cast, suddenly switched the parts of his actors: those who had stubbornly opposed us now asked for mercy, as their former protectors now distanced themselves from them. Overnight, the mood at the UN Security Council seemed unrecognizable.

We all need to recite the Hallel thanksgiving prayer for being granted the privilege of witnessing these events. The battle has not yet ended, but the enemy has already retreated and won’t easily recover.

It may well be that future generations won’t comprehend how Israel vanquished her enemies. Yes, there are sacrifices, but in the long run nothing gets lost.

And yet the blood that was shed by our young lions, the sacrifices endured, everything will be inscribed. Each widow’s tear, every death rattle of the fallen soldiers – they won’t pass unnoticed by our descendants.

For Jews around the world, these last events are a deep source of pride. Every Jew witnessed and survived this trial together. Rarely, as a people, do we feel such a deep connection to each other, of loyalty to the purest principles driven by our shared history.

This new Jewish awakening is part of that miracle, a part of the Jewish victory. Those who thought Jews were frightened by huge armies were mistaken, and those who thought you could separate the Jewish state from the Jewish people around the world clearly underestimated us.

Those are stirring words to live and act by. Both Gil Troy’s article, but especially Elie Wiesel’s, should be required reading for all liberals, Jewish students, be they American, European or Israeli, or any other social justice warriors who are about social justice for all except for Israelis in their homeland.

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#Jerusalem50: A personal recollection of the Six Day War by an American student in Jerusalem

Sometimes it is easier to understand the timeline of a war through personal recollections, rather than by neutral press reports. The following article was written by a woman who was an American new immigrant living in Jerusalem when the Six Day War broke out. I am posting it with her permission though she wishes to remain anonymous. The writer had the privilege of renting a room from Rabbanit Sarah Herzog, who was the widow of Israeli Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog and was an extraordinary personality in her own right.

A Partial Personal Recollection of the Six Day War –Jerusalem Day – Yom Yerushalayim

Written and sent with permission of MG 

A few weeks ago, in celebration of Jerusalem Day, I participated in a guided tour of the Sherover Promenade in South Jerusalem.  As we neared the end of the tour, we passed what is known as “Armon Hanatziv” – literally “the High Commissioner’s Palace” which houses the UN headquarters in Jerusalem till today.

The view from the Sherover Promenade

The tour guide explained that at the beginning of the Six Day War, this headquarters was stormed by the Jordanians who ousted the UN command, threatening the lives of all the employees.  Fortunately for them – and for us – the IDF was soon able to recapture this strategic point.  This battle was the first battle of the Six Day War in Jerusalem.

My thoughts flew back to the events of 1967. I had been a one-year student at the Hebrew University in Givat Ram in 1962 and now had come on Aliyah.  From  before Lag B’Omer in  May of 1967  the fear in Jerusalem was palpable. On Lag b’Omer   a red haze rose from the horizon from all the children’s bonfires.  It conjured up images of war, and Jerusalemites expected a repeat of the War of Independence and began to prepare for the fighting from house to house that they remembered.  The house next to where I was living looked like an armed fort, with sandbags stacked in front covering every inch of the face of the building.  Volunteers and students who had not yet left the country built retaining walls and fortifications.

Filling sandbags during the Six Day War

One day I entered the Supermarket on Rechov Agron.  To my dismay, the shelves were empty!  I stood for a moment staring at a few stray noodles that had leaked out of a package – the only sign that these shelves had been stacked with food packages.  Jerusalemites, remembering the War of Independence, had begun to hoard, in preparation for the siege they expected.  I observed then that the longer people had been here, the more they were in a panic, especially people who had experienced the siege and hunger during the War of Independence, 19 years earlier.  Nineteen years seemed to me then a very long time.  Now I understand that to these people it was only yesterday, just like the Six Day War, 50 years ago, is to me now “only yesterday. ” All this passed before my eyes like a surrealistic dream.  I had not yet experienced war in any way, and I could not attach myself to this reality.

Between Lag B’Omer and the outbreak of the war, almost all Americans left the country.  My dear friend Matti, who made aliyah with me, called me one day at work almost hysterical.  “You know, ” she said, “the last family just left Bayit VeGan. I’m not leaving, but I’m not sure we’re right.”  I was walking one day on King George Street, near the Jewish Agency, when a short, young Sephardi man approached me.  It must have been obvious that I was American – Israelis can always tell.  “You’re still here!” he said.  “Kol Hakavod.”  He almost bowed down in admiration.  I was quite discomfited.  I didn’t think it was anything special.  After all, both my friend and I were here to stay.

At work, tension mounted from day to day as the call-up continued.  In the era before SMS’s, each soldier’s unit had a “code word”, like “rattlesnake”, “nachash tzefa”.  One morning as we listened to the news on the radio and heard the long list of code-words, one of the young men who had not yet been drafted stood up and walked out.  “I was called”, he said.  It was during this tense period that a student walked in, obviously upset, and related that an Israeli Arab student shouted at him “Get your bathing suit ready.”  A staff member countered that he didn’t believe it.  “To throw Israel into the sea,” was an often repeated slogan blasted out of radio stations from the Arab countries.  That’s what they believed they would be doing!

Overseas students and tourists, the only able-bodied men around, helped fill sandbags for the outlying areas of the city like in Pagi, just past the Sanhedria cemetery, a small neighborhood populated by Holocaust survivors from Hungary.  Pagi was the last neighborhood in Jerusalem before No-Man’s Land, facing French Hill to the East and Nabi Samuel to the North, and the last outpost before Ammunition Hill. Just past the last house – now facing what is today Mishmar Hagvul Street, was a warning sign – “Stop, Border Ahead.”  – beyond that, in what is today Ramat Eshkol, was a mine field in Jordanian occupied territory.  Nobody went near there and nobody wanted to live there!

A border sign in Jerusalem, 1951; in the background: Tower of David

There were border signs like this too at what is today Kikar Tzahal, near the Municipality.  There was a large concrete wall there, entangled with barbed wire.  That was the end of the city.  Beyond was a different world – a world that we both feared and longed for.  People would look with telescopes from rooftops just to get a view of the streets and daily life of the people on the other side.  Jordanian soldiers were stationed on the walls of the Old City.  It was dangerous to look up at them – it was considered provocative.  There were shooting incidents all the time.  Matti, who was also here on a one-year program in 1962, had been renting a room on Rechov Heleni Hamalka. It was cheaper than in town.  At the end of this street was also a wall.  She would tell me about the times she and her friends would hide under the beds when the Jordanians started shooting.

On Monday morning, June 5th, 1967, I went to work as usual.  I was then renting an attic room in the home of Rabbanit Sarah Herzog, the wife of the late Chief Rabbi of Israel, in Rechavia.  I descended on a little winding stair case from my attic room, entered the main residence and came down the main staircase leading into a large anteroom.  Sandbags had been placed blocking the large windows along the staircase, and the windows were taped up criss-cross.  The Rabbanit had paid some youngsters to do this job.  As I was leaving the main entrance, I met the Rabbanit’s daughter-in-law with her two daughters and her infant baby, at that time about six months old.  They were entering with large suitcases.  I was so naïve I didn’t even take special notice.  I didn’t even suspect anything was unusual.  I was hurrying to work which began at 7:30.  I knew I would have to get a “tremp” – a ride, because for a few weeks now there had been no buses.  I remember how shocked I was when one morning I went out to the bus-stop on Rechov Ussishkin to take the bus to Givat Ram, and there were no buses.  All the drivers had been conscripted into the army.  In fact there were no men under fifty-five at all in the streets.  That’s when I understood that things were really serious.

I was working at that time in the Office for Overseas Students of the Hebrew University.  Our offices were housed in the Planetarium in Givat Ram.  At about 10:00 a.m. we started to hear gun-fire.  There had been no warning on the newscasts.  We were a small staff.  I don’t remember that there were particular instructions about what to do in such an eventuality of war.  There was no shelter in the building.  Fear gripped our hearts when someone started a rumor that the Jordanians had taken over the UN headquarters at Armon Hanatziv.  I think most of the staff made their way to the shelter in the National Library building, and I, not knowing what else to do, dashed out to see if I could get back to Rechavia.  A bus passed the station at the entrance to the campus.  It wasn’t a regular Egged bus, but people got on.  I got on, too.  It went as far as Rechov Metudela, at which point I got off and ran towards the Herzog residence.  It was a beautiful day in early summer.  Peripherally I took note of some beautiful flowering shrubbery characteristic of that neighborhood, and keenly felt the anomaly of the explosions heard all around me.  G-d protected me, and I arrived safely at the Herzog residence.

I don’t know what they thought – whether I was crazy to have come back or what – but I joined them in that inner room, below the staircase blocked by the sandbags, and sat on the floor together with the Rabbanit’s granddaughters.  They were young teenagers, Horev school girls, ages 12 and 14.   They were brave and disciplined.  It wasn’t long before we heard the voice of Chaim Herzog, the IDF military radio commentator (and their uncle), informing with a tense voice that hostilities had begun and our troops were engaged in battle with Egypt.  Quoting Tehillim (Psalms) he said “Ana Hashem Hatzlicha Na” –With G-d’s help, may we succeed.  In the days that followed, the entire country was riveted to Chaim Herzog’s running commentary on the course of the war.  He was at once down to earth and reassuring, and he enjoyed immense popularity for this role for months afterwards.

All through the perilous nights of Monday and Tuesday, Rabbanit Herzog said Tehillim, and sighed over and over – “Oy, oy, the mothers of the soldiers, the mothers, the mothers….”.  I was then young,  more a contemporary of those fighting soldiers, and it was hard for me to imagine being a mother of a soldier.  But the Rabbanit could understand what the mothers of Israel were feeling. We knew fighting was going on. We could hear it. But very little information was forthcoming.

The barrage continued throughout the night unabated.  According to the history books 6,000 shells were rained down on Jerusalem in those 48 hours.  900 buildings were damaged, and more than 1000 civilians were wounded.  150 died of their wounds.  (from Michael Oren’s book). It sounded as if the whole city was being destroyed.  The explosions came hard and fast, like thunderbolts and fourth of July fireworks all together.

At one point when the barrage was intense, Mrs. Herzog ventured a thought that maybe the girls should go to the “miklat.”  Apparently, in addition to the fortified vestibule, there was a proper shelter. No one moved.  I thought that she really wanted them to go, so after a few more minutes of intense shelling, I said “Come on, girls,”and I got up.  Together we made our way through the kitchen and down a flight of stairs I never knew existed to a small dimly lit room, with no windows – a proper miklat.  We sat on the floor leaning on the wall.  I noticed that there were huge tins of “biskvitim” (tea biscuits), provisions for a siege.  I didn’t notice anything else, and I don’t even remember what we ate during the three days of shelling.  We didn’t remain very long in the miklat, and we soon made our way back and rejoined the family in the vestibule.

Tuesday morning there was still no real news, except that we were at war (as if we didn’t know).  The shelling continued.  I was distressed at the thought of my parents, sensitive and anxious as they always were, worrying themselves to hysteria in the U.S.  There were no telephones, no emails, and the nearest place to send a telegram was the post office right near the Jordanian border, which of course was closed.  At one point Chayim Soloveitchik, a young friend of the family appeared, and said that it would be possible to send a telegram through the Foreign office.  I jumped at the opportunity to use this “protektzia” (nepotism).  I kept it short.  “Safe and well”, I wrote.  Those were without a doubt the three most important words they wanted to hear.

At some time on Tuesday, Chaim Herzog began to report the astounding events of the last 48 hours.  The Egyptian air force was wiped out on the ground. The IDF was advancing in Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula, and had reached the Suez Canal.  But there was no news about Jerusalem, and the shelling continued.

There was a lull in the shelling, and young and foolhardy as I was, I ventured out.  I walked the block on Rechov Ussishkin to my uncle Hersh who lived on Rechov Narkis.  There were explosions from time to time.  People motioned me to get into a miklat.  I found my aunt and uncle sitting in the miklat, he engrossed in saying Tehillim.  He barely looked up, motioning to me with a gesture of his hand with an expressive “Nu”.  He and my aunt Rochel, of blessed memory, had made aliyah when they were already in their mid-seventies.  They were HaPoel Hamizrachi people, simple people from  Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  It made quite a stir in the family when we heard they were making aliyah.  Little did he think that he would have the merit of going to the “kotel hama’aravi” every day once the war was over.

Another un-sung hero of the Six Day War was Dina Webster.  Mrs. Webster was a perky old lady, maybe in her 80’s, with bright blue piercing eyes and full of enthusiasm.  She was from Paterson, N.J. and an acquaintance of my parents.  After retiring from a successful business, she, like my Uncle Hersh, surprised everyone by coming on aliyah.  In Jerusalem she extended her hospitality to American students  who were studying in Israel, and I was more than once a recipient of her hospitality and good cooking.  Her apartment was considered super modern for those days, with additional kitchen cabinets on top and a large refrigerator.  She adamantly refused her family’s remonstrations to “take the first plane home” during the pre-war build up.  How shocking it was after the war to see this kitchen reduced to rubble.  It had suffered a direct hit.  Mrs. Webster had just minutes before left the kitchen and gone down to the shelter.  Instead of taking the “first plane home”, she announced triumphantly to people who came to see her, “I’m taking the first Number 9 bus to Mount Scopus!”

By Wednesday morning the shelling had stopped.  After the intensive shelling of the night, I was amazed to see buildings still standing.  I walked towards King George Street.  There was broken glass all over and here and there gutted holes in the outer walls of buildings that had suffered direct hits.  There was a line of tanks.  A fatigued soldier with blackened face motioned in the direction of the Old City – “We were there”, he said.  I hastened back.

That afternoon I went with my dear friend Matti to Magen David to donate blood for wounded soldiers.  We sat in line, waiting.  Opposite us was a group of yeshiva bochurim also waiting to give blood.  Then came the newscast over the loudspeaker, Chaim Herzog’s voice:  “HaIr HaAtika B’yadenu.!”  “The Old City is in our hands!” I was crying, and so was Matti.  I looked across at the row of yeshiva bochurim and they were also crying.  I think there was not a dry eye in the entire country at that historic moment.

The days following were like a Yom Tov.  People congratulated each other in the streets.  Shmuel Shnitzer, in his weekly column in the Ma’ariv newspaper, quoted the Haggadah :  “Blessed be He who brought us from mourning to Yom Tov, from darkness to great light.”  A tearful woman in the street said to me, “We were like this”   making a cut-throat movement of the palm of her hand at her neck.  The local grocer enthused, “We gave it to them, ‘shoch al yerech’” (hip on thigh).  On Shabbat of that week I davened in “Beit Hillel,” the students’ minyan on Rechov Balfour. (Not far from the present day location of the Jerusalem Emunah office.)  We said Hallel with a bracha.

We began to hear the strains of Naomi Shemer’s beautiful song “Yerushalayim shel Zahav.”  It had already become popular before the outbreak of the war.  Reflecting the yearning for Jerusalem and the Old City, it seemed then like a prophecy come true.

A short time after the war, I had just come downstairs from my quaint little attic room that I rented up near the tree-tops, reached by a winding outdoor stair-case from a door on the second floor.  I saw at once that something unusual was going on.  The Rabbanit was in the elegant dining room, and the whole house was lit up, as if for a special occasion.  I saw that her son, Chaim Herzog, who had just recently held the country rapt as the military commentator during the dramatic days of the Six Day War, had come to visit.  But I perceived that this was not just an ordinary family visit to his mother.  Something dramatic was going on.  He came to tell his mother that he was just appointed the first military commander of the West Bank, the territory west of the Jordan river that had been occupied by Jordan before the Six Day War.  The Rabbanit at this point recalled a dream told to her by her late husband, Rav Yitzchak Herzog za’tzal, after the fall of the Old City of Jerusalem to the Jordanians in 1948.  He dreamed that he saw his son Chaim riding into the Old City on a white steed!  The Rabbanit would recount that the Rav mourned the fall of the Old City and the destruction of its magnificent synagogues and institutions all his life.

The first Shabbat at the Kotel after the Six Day War by David Harris

By Shavuot, merely a week after the war, the army had cleared a large area in front of the Kotel, and secured the passage for people to come and visit the holy remnant of the Beit HaMikdash, a visit which only a week before was only a distant dream.  I walked with my dear friend Matti, across the Gai Hinnom Valley, and up Mt. Zion.  There were throngs of people all around us.  Ahead a group of yeshiva bachurim, danced the whole way, arms joined shoulder to shoulder singing “והרינו בבניינו, ושמחינו בתיקונו” – Ve haraynu bevinyano, Vesamchaynu betikuno (Show [Jerusalem] to us in its rebuilding, and make us rejoice in its restoration).   An old Yemenite lady shouted “דוד מלך ישראל חי וקיים ” – David Melech Yisrael Chai Vekayam! (King David lives!).  We went from Mt. Zion, crossing over the old Jordanian border, and entering the Old City through Sha’ar Zion, the Zion gate.  We descended the steep road along the city wall, which is today flanked by Yeshivat Hakotel, and approached the site of the Kotel Hama’aravi.  Soldiers secured our passage and waved us along with a smile.  Israeli flags,  blue and white with the Magen David,  greeted us in the center of the Plaza.  No, the Jordanians would not prevent us from approaching the holy site.

Partially cleared plaza in front of the Kotel by Summer 1967

We stood speechless.  Who were we, after so many generations of people who dreamed of this, to merit this great moment?

This story, written in the simple clear words of a young eye-witness to world-changing events, make the miracle of the war seem more more real than any video or recording. What an honour and privilege the writer enjoyed in seeing Israel’s redemption in front of her eyes!

Here is another personal recollection, from the viewpoint of a soldier who fought and helped capture the Old City – and blew the Shofar for Rabbi Goren!

Happy Yom Yerushalayim!

!חג שמח ירושלים

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#Jerusalem50: Chag Same’ach! Yom Yerushalayim 5777 – 2017

The 50th anniversary of the recapture and reunification of Jerusalem, as well as the liberation of Judea and Samaria (and Gaza, which was then unwisely given over to Hamas in 2005) has finally arrived. The city of Jerusalem has been celebrating for days already, and the press and social media are bursting full with stories, anecdotes and historical revelations. I’ve been trying to keep pace in my own way which I hope is of interest to you.

The Jerusalem municipality put on a fabulous sound and light show on Sunday night which you can watch in full here: Sound and Light Show – 50 years of united Jerusalem

You can see some excerpts below.

There was an amazing light show with drones or robotic gliders:



And of course the Hatikva accompanied by a beautiful light show on the walls.


And let us not forget the original event which we are all celebrating:


The most iconic photo of the Six Day War was the three paratroopers gazing in awe at the Kotel:

The iconic Rubinger photo of the three paratroopers at the recaptured Western Wall in June 1967 (Courtesy Rubinger/Knesset Collection)

Fifty years later the paratroopers, who have recreated the photo several times since, recreated it one more time:

The David Rubinger photograph of three paratroopers standing in silent awe in front of the recaptured Western Wall after the battle for Jerusalem in 1967 has become the defining image of one of the most significant moments in Israel’s history.

With the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War approaching, Zion Karasenti, Haim Oshri, and Dr. Itizik Yifat returned to the Old City this week to remember the moment.

From L to R, Haim Oshri, Dr. Itzik Yifat and Zion Karasenti stand in front of the Western Wall in April 2017, 50 years after the three former paratroopers were resonantly photographed at the holy site by David Rubinger immediately after its capture in the Six Day War. (screen capture: Channel 2)

Karasenti, Oshri, and Yifat described to Channel 2 News how they, as 20-something reserve duty soldiers, inadvertently became the symbol of a nation fulfilling a 2,000 year dream.

“There were snipers everywhere, especially from overhead. They could have thrown a grenade on us and finished us,” Karasenti recalled of the battle for the Jerusalem holy site.

Since none of them had ever been to the Western Wall, which had been under Jordanian rule since 1948, they admitted that, at first, nobody was really sure they had even captured the “real thing.”

“Everyone talked about the Kotel [Western Wall] all the time, but we were new and we had never been there. That day was the first time any of us had ever been there,” Oshri said.

At the time there was only a narrow corridor separating the Western Wall of the Temple Mount from the nearby houses and buildings of the Old City.

“When they [our colleagues] raised the flag over the Western Wall, that was our sign,” Karasenti said.

“After the 48 hours of battle, we were tired and sweaty, our uniforms were dusty and bloodied, but when we walked down the stairs and saw the stones of the Western Wall, a lot of the guys started crying.

“It was an extraordinary thing, its hard to describe,” Karasenti said.

It wasn’t until after the war was over that the three men realized the picture of them taken by legendary photographer Rubinger had become famous worldwide.

“After the war, my neighbor who was a brand new immigrant from Poland, came running out to show me that my photo was in the Polish newspapers. I was shocked,” said Yifat.

“We did become a symbol of our strength,” Yifat said.

Karasenti said he too was surprised to see it on the front page of the Haaretz daily the following week.

“I showed it to my girlfriend at the time, I couldn’t believe it, I told her ‘look, someone took our picture!’”

To many, the 50th anniversary of Israel’s victory in the Six Day War — in which Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula –is a bittersweet one. It represents half a century since the Old City and other historic Jewish sites returned to Jewish hands, but also half a century of Israeli military rule over the Palestinians.

Asked about the dual nature of the jubilee, the men appear to be as divided as Israeli society.

“There is something to be said for that [calling the image the start of the tragedy of the state of Israel] Yifat said. “I don’t believe that we should be ruling over another nation.”

“How can you say that as an Israeli who fought for something after 2,000 years of longing?” Karasenti shot back. “We returned the heart of the Jewish people to this land.”

Retorted Yifat: “What am I supposed to tell my grandchildren? That there will be war every year?”

Despite their political differences, the three men, now in their 70s, say they have remained close friends over the years.

Those three men were privileged to have lived through such momentous events and to have been able to fight with their own hands to liberate Jerusalem. For thousands of years Jews prayed for the restoration of Jerusalem, and here, they did it themselves!

And as the most fitting conclusion, here, once again, is Shuli Natan in her beautifully clear voice, singing the timeless anthem to Jerusalem, Yerushalayim shel Zahav – Jerusalem of Gold, It was written almost prophetically by Israeli poetess Naomi Shemer just before the Six Day War, and which she had to update with an extra verse after Israel’s stunning victory.


Happy Yom Yerushalayim!

!חג שמח ירושלים

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#Jerusalem50: Israel’s precarious position in the lead-up to the Six Day War

Israel’s victory in the Six Day War was so complete and so sudden and so startling that, 50 years later, many people have forgotten the dire danger facing Israel in those awfully tense days. The Arabs, led by Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, poured vicious threats and promises of murder and brutality on the heads of Israeli civilians. Israeli farmers were unable to cultivate their fields in the north due to shooting from the Syrians atop the Golan Heights, and civilians were victims of random sniper fire from the Jordanians to the east and terrorism from local Arabs (nothing much changed there).

Watch this video which records the vicious threats and Arabs which led up to the war (h/t Shirlee Finn):

For those of you more interested in learning from the source, the Israeli Archives have just declassified the secret transcripts from Israeli Cabinet discussions before and during the Six Day War. It is not only riveting reading. It is terrifying to realise how close Israel came to NOT taking preemptive action, which would most likely ended in disaster, even a second Shoah.

Yaacov Lozowick, Israel’s state archivist (and former blogger), brings us the story of the Secret Transcripts of the Six Day War in the Tablet. Here is the “blurb” to begin with, to give you an appetite for more:

Newly unsealed classified documents reveal: Jerusalem conquered almost by accident; Israel’s National Religious Party, forerunner to the settler movement, lobbied for military de-escalation at every turn; and nobody in Israel’s security cabinet seems to have seen the country’s most momentous war coming.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

The Six-Day War was run by a committee. A highly classified committee, whose transcripts have never been seen for 50 years. Until now: here they are.

The security cabinet of 1967 appears in these never-published transcripts as a group of serious, professional, and responsible decision-makers. While the ministers brought their worldviews to the table, they often didn’t vote on party lines, often did listen to one another, and generally managed to make decisions, albeit slowly and through compromises. These characteristics were not helpful in the maelstrom of the Six-Day War, when the cabinet receded in the face of its two most enigmatic members: Levi Eshkol, who can be read either as a weak figure or a master manipulator; and Moshe Dayan, who comes across as an arrogant but talented prima donna.

Menachem Begin, Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and General Yeshayahu Gavish, during the six day war, 1967.(Photo: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

The very point of their committee was to manage Israel’s military challenges. Yet none of the ministers saw the approaching war until it was almost upon them; not a single one of them foresaw its outcome. Between January and mid-May 1967, the meetings focused on Syria. Between May 15 and June 4, the SC strove to comprehend the significance of unfolding events in Egypt. During the six days of June 5-10 it tried to remain in control of events, with only middling success. On June 11, 1967, having had exactly no time at all to prepare, they had to decide what Israel should do with its astonishing new borders.

There were two hawks: Yisrael Galili and Yigal Allon. The then-56-year-old Galili is probably the most powerful Israeli politician you’ve never heard of; indeed, few Israelis in 2017 remember him. A former leader of the Haganah, he had scant patience for restraint when faced with Syrian fire at Israeli farmers along the border:

I think that not to respond to tank shells is beyond what we can endure, especially as we’ve already tried it. We once didn’t respond, and that may have encouraged them to try again. If the logic of not responding is that it will create mutual calm along the border, we can save a lot of effort. Sadly, that message hasn’t proved compelling over the years… I don’t wish for any flare-ups on the northern border. Yet over the years when we’ve been slack, we’ve later been required to pay with blood. When we respond to fire with fire, we’ve gained control over fields, and we haven’t when we held back. (Jan. 3)

It’s elementary. One can’t not shoot back. … If they intend to broaden their fire along the whole line, how will our not responding thwart that intention? If they don’t intend to expand the front, we certainly need to respond where they shoot at us. (Jan. 7)

[Moshe Haim] Shapira is one of the surprises of the transcripts. The minister of the interior, he was the leader of the National Religious Party—which, within a few years (and after his death), was to become the political home and launching pad of the settlers’ movement. In 1967, he was one of the two whitest of doves in the SC.

Take the meeting of Jan. 12, at which the IDF, exasperated at the unrelenting attacks of the Syrians, requested permission to escalate its responses. Shapira would have none of it:

So far, we’ve always said we could justify using our air force to protect our civilians. To change our policy and use planes [against Syrian military targets which aren’t shooting at villages], that might lead to war. I can’t accept that… I understand when the chief of staff tells how hard it is to live in a state of constant vigilance and high alert. Well, I say it’s better to be on high alert than at war.

Perhaps surprised by the emerging resistance to what he had thought would be an easy sale, Levi Eshkol, 71, prime minister and minister of defense, uncharacteristically took a decisive position. Rejecting the position that because Israel had so far voluntarily refrained from cultivating the section for many years and could continue refraining, he fumed:

We were in exile 2,000 years, and then there was struggle and a war. I can’t forget the outcry when we had to relinquish 2.5 dunam (less than an acre) near Jerusalem. How will we justify relinquishing 600 dunam here? And why not refrain from insisting on cultivating all the other fields where the Syrians shoot at us? What if we’d brought that question to this table? Would you have said we should wait, the Syrians have been humiliated, we need to give them time? If not now, when? If we don’t act now, we’ll regret it for generations.

Larger events were soon to overtake two decades of violence on the Syrian border. On May 14, Israel’s 19th Independence Day, Egypt began loudly and publicly to move troops through Cairo and into Sinai. […] The SC first discussed the matter the next day, and while the descriptions of the military preparations were better than in the full cabinet, on this third day of the crisis, no one seems to have seen a war coming. The Egyptians were assumed to be putting on a show.

U Thant with Gamal Abdel Nasser 2 weeks before the Six Day War

The tone changed on May 21. Egyptian President Gamal Nasser had asked UN Secretary General U-Thant to move the UN troops in Sinai (UNEF), and U-Thant, astonishingly, removed them completely. The main achievement of the 1956 campaign had vanished overnight. Most of the meeting was dedicated to updates from Rabin, Foreign Minister Abba Eban, 52, and Eshkol. Given the gravity of the situation, it was decided to discuss the implications in the full cabinet sitting as the SC.

Yet even as the discussion was being postponed, both Galili the hawk and Shapira the dove said they understood Israel to be facing war. Shapira was resigned, saying the Egyptian actions wouldn’t be reversible without war. Galili’s position was sharper: War had already started. What he wanted to know was how the air force could assure that it would knock out Egypt’s air force before it was itself attacked. Three weeks before the historic attack on Egypt’s air force, the key Israeli move of the Six-Day War was already on the table.

By the meeting on May 23, Egypt had blocked the Tiran Straights, stopping Israeli trade with Asia. The ministers all agreed this was likely to lead to war, but most of them, including Rabin, who, as a general, had no vote, accepted the importance of convincing the Americans that Israel wasn’t rushing to war. Maj. Gen. Ezer Weitzman, 43, head of operations and previously commander of the IAF, explained that while the opportunity for strategic surprise had passed, the air force was still confident it could achieve tactical surprise when needed. As there was an American request to allow 48 hours for diplomacy, the ministers decided to refrain from military action.

But by May 26, the members of the SC felt trapped. The Egyptians were digging in and reinforcing. Rabin reported evidence of their intent to attack. Jordan was about to join Egypt. Most of the IDF reserves had been mobilized, and the economy could not afford them to stay mobilized for long. There was no realistic prospect of Israel acquiring additional weapons. Yet everyone understood they had no choice but to wait for Abba Eban to return with his reports from Europe and the U.S. So they discussed the possibility of broadening the coalition by creating a national unity government. Expecting a long and bloody war, they sought political consensus.

I found the following transcript to be the most significant for its parallels to Israel’s diplomatic situation still today. (Emphases are mine):

On Saturday night, May 27, the entire cabinet sitting as the SC deliberated almost until dawn. Abba Eban arrived after 10 p.m. from the airport, gave his report, left to report to the Knesset Committee of Foreign and Security Affairs, then returned to find the ministers still agonizing. Key world leaders were all demanding Israel not attack; the ministers all knew war was inevitable but couldn’t agree on a course of action. If we attack first, what will the international cost be? If we’re hit first, how many lives will we pay with? (Many thousands, they expected). If we wait, what do we gain? At what cost? If we don’t wait—at what cost?

Aharon Yariv, 46, head of intelligence, began: We see no military advantages in further waiting, and considerable danger. The Arab armies are continuing to dig in, prepare, and acquire further arms. We have no potential for re-arming. Rabin: The coordination among the Arab armies is growing. They are emboldened by our inaction. Mordechai Hod, 41, head of the air force: We will do our job under any conditions, but each 24-hour-delay raises the potential price we may have to pay. Yishayahu Gavish, 42, commander of the southern front: Here’s a map of Egyptian forces on May 22. Here’s what they had last week. And here’s what they have today. Additional [Egyptian] forces are on their way from Yemen. They get stronger every day. (Gavish is the only person in these transcripts who is still alive, at 92.) Reserve Division Cmdr. Avraham Yoffe, 54: I’ve been in the Negev with my troops for 14 days. We must wrest the initiative from the Egyptians! Division Cmdr. Ariel Sharon, 39: We’re ready, and we’ll destroy the Egyptian army. There will be casualties, but we must do the job. Begging other nations to save us won’t work. Waiting for hypothetical additional arms isn’t necessary. We will do the job. Quartermaster Matti Peled, 43: What are we waiting for? Tell us: What are we waiting for?

And still, the cabinet hesitated. There was another inconclusive meeting on June 4.

One after another, each of the ministers had his say. All agreed war was inevitable. Most tried to justify the waiting period, hoping Israel had gained credibility in the eyes of the world.

The following words for me are the essence of Israel’s diplomatic situation even today:

Haim Gvati (66, Mapai) gently mocked his hesitant colleagues: “I’m surprised by those who think the great powers will ever, ever say to us that the time has come and we can attack our enemies. They never will.”

I can’t help but feel outraged when I read this. How DARED the world demand Israel to refrain from defending itself??! And yet – don’t we hear the same refrain every time we find ourselves fighting off Hamas or Hezbollah? Nothing has changed in 50 years and it seems that nothing ever will.

The rest of the transcripts in the article are almost an anti-climax because we know how the war ended. Still, they are fascinating if only for understanding the war’s miraculous turn of events:

The first meeting of the war was in the evening of June 6, more than 30 hours into the campaign. The first 90 minutes of the meeting were simply updates. The Egyptian army was collapsing in Sinai, Gaza had been mostly conquered, chunks of the West Bank had been taken, and the areas to the north and south of the Old City were secured by the IDF. Latrun, site of a series of humiliating defeats in 1948 and the cause of the rerouting of the main road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, was in Israeli hands. None of this had been discussed, much less authorized, by the entity that legally commands the military.

The Paratroopers burst into Jerusalem’s Old City via the Lions’ Gate

The meeting marked the pinnacle of euphoria. Less than two days after fearfully authorizing a military campaign expected to cause thousands of deaths, the ministers could be forgiven a large sigh of relief. Eshkol, normally circumspect and careful, wondered if it might be possible to solve Israel’s water problems by taking southern Lebanon till the Litani River. Dayan, flamboyant and erratic, boasted that Israel could reach Cairo if anyone was interested, and would soon take Sharm el-Sheikh and hold it for 300 years. He also told the ministers they needed to talk less as he didn’t have time for a long meeting. When Allon and Begin insisted that the Old City be taken immediately before the United Nations might intervene, Dayan explained he didn’t want such a decision.

The iconic photo of 3 Israeli paratroopers looking at the Kotel in awe as Jerusalem is liberated in the Six Day War

Perhaps the single most important decision in millennia—that the Jews should rule in Jerusalem—was probably made early on June 7 by Moshe Dayan, not by Israel’s government. Because the IDF was already advancing deep into the West Bank, the government simply OK’d an advance that had already happened in the heat of battle. The most portentous decision in Israel’s history, to control the entire Land of Israel and its Arab population, was made almost in a fit of absent-mindedness.

As for the Golan Heights, I was surprised to learn that there was no consensus on capturing the area despite the constant Syrian shelling of farmers:

Most of the deliberations were focused on Syria, which had been shelling Israeli villages all week but was still on the sidelines of the territorial war. At first the IDF didn’t have the resources for what seemed likely to be a costly effort parallel to the main theater in Sinai and the unplanned one on the West Bank. As the fighting progressed, the cabinet feared a confrontation with the Soviet Union, which it perceived to be protecting Syria more than Egypt. Yet public pressure was mounting.

The next morning (June 9), Dayan told the ministers he and Eshkol had given the green light for an attack; in the transcript, Eshkol sounds evasive. Shapira was furious: This is not at all what we agreed upon. Everyone else was uncomfortable but unwilling to halt the troops in battle. Barzilai, interestingly, was mostly silent: Some of the kibbutzim under fire were from his political movement.

That evening only five ministers made it to the meeting in Tel Aviv. Because the Syrian artillery was still firing, they hoped the IDF units would reach them before the cease-fire. They did say the IDF shouldn’t launch a second attack from the southern Golan, and they recognized there were only hours left to achieve all goals.

Saturday night (June 10) there was another meeting. The IDF had attacked from the south. The Syrian army collapsed, said Dayan, and we had to take advantage of this. Eshkol explained, rather lamely, that “Dayan told me,” but he hadn’t stopped the advance because he was in favor of it. During the meeting, word arrived that the two IDF columns had met in the center of the Golan. The ministers stood for a moment of silence in honor of the fallen, then drank “l’chaim.”

By the time you get to the end of the article you feel almost breathless with the tension and then the utter relief at the victory.

We must never allow ourselves to be put into such an inferior position again, no matter the temptations of “peace” negotiations and promises of security guarantees from the international community. We have learned what those guarantees are worth.

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#Jerusalem50: Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the UK and world-famous philosopher, speaks about what Jerusalem and its reunification in 1967 means to him. A must see.

Watch and share widely.


!יום ירושלים שמח

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#Jerusalem50: Har Hatzofim (Mt. Scopus) and the Ophel

On Wednesday Israel and the Jewish world will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of our miraculous victory in the Six Day War of 1967. Jerusalem has gone into high gear for the extraordinary anniversary (though this has been somewhat complicated by the upcoming visit by Donald Trump on Tuesday) with concerts and shows and tours and other celebratory events.

Yesterday I kicked off my own personal Yom Yerushalayim celebrations by going on an organized trip with my shul to Jerusalem.

We went first to Har Hatzofim (Mount Scopus) where our guide Achikam explained the history of the site, particularly how it became an isolated Jewish enclave surrounded by a sea of hostile Arabs during the British Mandate period until June 1967. We were told how a small garrison of Jewish soldiers remained on the mountain, being rotated and supplied every two weeks by convoys guarded and checked by an Arab policeman, a Jewish policeman and a UN observer. The Jewish enclave was not allowed to be manned by soldiers, only policemen, and they were allowed to be armed only with pistols. Of course they managed to get around these restrictions somehow. Nevertheless it was a very precarious situation.

Memorial plaque at entrance to Har Hatzofim

We were lucky enough to have amongst us an elderly haredi-looking man who, it turned out, had been a soldier on Har Hatzofim during that period! He regaled us with his stories, some were terrifying and some were very entertaining.

We entered the main lobby of the Hebrew University campus where we saw a huge painting of the cornerstone-laying ceremony in 1925. In the background you can see the fabulous view for which Har Hatzofim is famous. After all, the name (also in English) implies it is looking over something – and that something is the view of Jerusalem, the surrounding hills and communities, the Dead Sea, and the mountains of Moav (Jordan).

Painting of the cornerstone-laying ceremony of Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus in 1925 (click to enlarge)

The same view from Mt. Scopus today (click to enlarge)

In the second view above, taken from the same spot where the artist sat in 1925, one can see how the area has developed: in the foreground is the Arab town of El Azariya, and further back is the Israeli town of Maaleh Adumim. The blue patches on the horizon are the Dead Sea and shrouded in mist are the mountains of Moav.

We continued on to the Botanical Gardens within the Hebrew University campus on Har Hatzofim. These gardens were established in the 1930s to preserve the flora of the Land of Israel because of encroaching urbanization. Remember, this was the 1930s! What would the founders have made of modern Israel?

A frog on a log in a bog 🙂

The gardens are a beautiful serene setting, laid out by climate (mountainous, rivers, swamps, desert), and within the mountain area there is a small seating area created in memory of a soldier, Shmuel Zvi Toder, who was killed defending Har Hatzofim. He was the uncle of our very own guide, Achikam, who explained that his name means “my brother lives” – he was named by his mother in memory of her brother. There is also a botanical library on campus in memory of his uncle.

Achikam next to the memorial

As we wove our way through the gardens we came upon the grave of Nicanor, a wealthy Jewish exile living in Egypt during the Second Temple period, who contributed the huge copper gates to the Temple. His bones were reburied on Har Hazeitim – the Mount of Olives – and nowadays two founding fathers of Israel, Menachem Ussishkin and Yehuda Leib Pinsker, are buried in the cave.

Nicanor’s grave

Ussishkin and Pinsker buried in Nicanor’s cave

The tour was a lovely way to start our day in Jerusalem, and as we headed back to our bus we couldn’t help noticing the number of Arab students on campus. No signs of apartheid there!  (This at the same time as the University refused to play the Hatikva national anthem at the graduation ceremony for fear of upsetting those same Arab students. Something needs to be rethought here).

No apartheid here (click all to enlarge)

It is a short ride – or rather, it is supposed to be a short ride – from Har Hatzofim to the Shaar Ashpot (Dung Gate) of the Old City. However, with Jerusalem traffic jams exacerbated by Donald Trump’s impending visit, the journey took the better part of half an hour. This enabled us at least to get a good view of the ancient Jewish cemetery on Har Hazeitim (Mt. of Olives).

The ancient Jewish cemetery on Har Hazeitim (click to enlarge)

Lunch under Al Aqsa

After a quick lunch break in the shadow of the Al Aqsa (how irreverent of us!) we set off to the Davidson Center – the Jerusalem Archeological Park – where Achikam guided us around the new Mikvaot Path. Dozens of ancient mikvaot – ritual baths – have been uncovered near the entrance to the Temple Mount where pilgrims would have bathed before entering the Temple to bring their sacrifices. It was a fascinating tour, where one feels one is walking on history. You can touch the ancient stones which thousands of hands from thousands of years ago have also touched, and you can almost hear the prayers and words from those times. On the way to the Mikvaot Path we stopped to look at Robinson’s Arch. This is not an arch at all, simply the very small remains of what was an enormous arch supporting a giant staircase ascending to the Temple Mount.

Robinson's arch

Robinson’s arch

On the ground below are piles of huge stones which were pushed off the Temple Mount by the Romans as they destroyed the Temple. These stones still lie in the same place that they have lain for the last 2,000 years. The weight of the stones cracked the street floor below, and this is clearly visible.

Fallen stones from the Temple Mount and the cracked street below

One of the stones is a corner piece, with the very clear Hebrew inscription on it: לבית התקיעות להכריז – translation: the place of blowing the Shofar for a declaration. This stone was situated at the corner of the walls of the Temple, and every Friday evening a Levite would stand there and blow the Shofar, signalling the beginning of Shabbat.

לבית התקיות להכריז – The place where the Levite would blow Shofar to announce Shabbat

To this day all over Israel, a siren blares on Friday evening as Shabbat begins. Seeing this stone and the clear inscription gave me the shivers, particularly as my father is a Levi himself. He was with us on this trip and was very moved at seeing the stone.

The Mikva Path was fascinating, both for its historical interest and for the technology used at the time. We think we are so clever in the 21st century with our modern technology, but the ancients were much cleverer than us without modern aids like electricity and computers. The water storage and channeling systems were ingenious, and even their hygiene was approaching modern levels, with a row of latrines for people to use before immersing in the mikva and approaching the Holy Temple.

Here you can see some of the mikvaot and the water cisterns, though the pictures do not do justice to their huge dimensions.

Water storage cistern

Looking down into the water channels

Ancient mikva, still usable if filled with water

On our climb back to the top we viewed Shaar Hulda – Hulda’s Gate, a triple arched gate whose outline you can just make out in the wall.

Shaar Hulda

We were disappointed that we had to then leave Jerusalem in a rush, before having time to pray at the Kotel, because the roads were beginning to close ahead of Trump’s arrival.

But please G-d, next time. Meanwhile, happy Yom Yerushalayim! Chag Same’ach to Jerusalem, to Judea and Samaria who were also liberated in ’67, and to all of Israel. Without our victory in 1967 we wouldn’t be here now.

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