Gush Shalom Spokesperson Adam Keller on Saturday night called to remove Jerusalem Day from Israel’s calendar of national holidays.
On the 28th of the Month of Iyar, which in 1967 fell on June 7, the old city of Jerusalem was liberated from its Arab occupiers by the IDF. The day has been celebrated since, following a May 12, 1968 government proclamation.
But according to Keller, Jerusalem Day is “a holiday only to settlers and racists, who get a license to provoke and harass Palestinians . . The real ‘Jerusalem Day’ [will come] when Jerusalem becomes the capital of two states living in peace.”
Keller published his announcement on “Media With Conscience,” a website which strives to achieve “world peace, social justice and a high awareness by humankind of the present and future dangers to its survival.”
Keller continues further in his statement: “‘Jerusalem Day’ is not a holiday to Israel’s citizens or to residents of Jerusalem. It is a holiday only for the young settlers, who are given by the Jerusalem Police a free hand to hold a provocative ‘Flag Dance’ throughout East Jerusalem – even though in previous years this ‘dance’ developed into an ongoing chain of racist harassment and violence against Palestinian inhabitants.”
The traditional Dance of flags is part of the parade of Jerusalem Day, in which tens of thousands of Israelis march from the western part of the capital through the Muslim Quarter, ending in front of the Wailing Wall. That part of Jerusalem Day, the parade, has received the greatest amount of criticism on the Left.
The original parade and the first dances with flags took place in 1968, when students at the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva, led by Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, marched up Yaffo Street, concluding with singing and dancing well into the night, at the kotel.
Carrying Israeli flags has become a distinct feature of the Jerusalem Day parade, as myriad marchers establish with their feet and their flags the Jewish sovereignty over the city.
According to Haaretz, a group of 21 leftist organizations calling themselves Forum Tag Meir, requested the Jerusalem municipality as well as the police to bar the parade from Arab neighborhoods, for fear of violent clashes between marchers and angry Arabs.
The police actually suggested, initially, that this year’s parade only move through the western part of town. But National Religious representatives accused the police of re-dividing the city with the restriction of the very parade that celebrates its unification.
“With this move the police is taking up a dangerous position regarding the division of Jerusalem,” NRP’s Deputy Mayor David Harari wrote Homeland Security Minister Yitzhak Ahronowitch, according to Haaretz.
Harari complained that with its plan, the police would be “educating our youth that the place of the Jews is in the western part of the city and not in its eastern part.”
Only this past week did the police change its position and agreed to the traditional path of the parade, through the Shchem Gate and the Muslim Quarter.
Incidentally, Adam Keller, the staunch enemy of Jerusalem Day, has been carrying the torch against the reunification of the land under Jewish rule for decades, and on occasion paid a personal price for his views. He has sat in prison more than once for refusing to serve in the territories liberated in 1967.
Unique among his comrades, Keller’s actions in the past have been imaginative and even ambitious. In 1988 he was sentenced to three months in jail for defacing 117 tanks and other military vehicles with graffiti that read: “Soldiers of the IDF, refuse to be occupiers and oppressors, refuse to serve in the occupied territories!” He also pasted hundreds of “Down with the occupation!” stickers throughout the camp where he was doing his reserves duty.
Truth be told, writing press releases is a bit of a step backwards for the imaginative Keller.