A truly happy new year will soon begin for the Jewish People: The 50th year of the liberation and unification of our holy and historic capital city of Jerusalem starts just six weeks after the upcoming Pesach holiday. The precise date, of course, is the 28th of Iyar (June) – the 49th anniversary of the modern-day miracle of the return of Yerushalayim to its nation.
It happened in the Six-Day War of 1967, when Jordan joined Egypt and Syria in their attempt to destroy Israel, which miraculously overcame the odds, and the rockets that King Hussein of Jordan fired at Jerusalem and environs cost him the Holy City, all of Judea and Samaria, and even the summer palace he was in the midst of building overlooking the Judean Desert.
(The structure still stands today, exactly as half-built as it was in June 1967 – but today it overlooks the burgeoning Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev.)
In 1998 the Knesset enacted the Jerusalem Day Law, proposed by the late Rabbi MK Chanan Porat. “Thirty years after the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem,” the law states, “the time has come to relate to it publicly [in the form of] a national holiday. The essence of Jerusalem, the height of our hopes and aspirations and the summit of our joy, should be noted and singled out on a day that symbolizes the centrality of Jerusalem in the life of the Nation of Israel that has returned to its land.”
Last year the government decided to appoint a steering committee to set the tone of the Jerusalem Jubilee festivities. The conclusions for the 50th year were to have been publicized a number of months ago, but in truth, barely a word on the plans has been reported. If the government is planning something, it is certainly a well-kept secret. It is to be hoped that this is not a harbinger of things to come – because there are elements preparing long and hard to step in and fill the void. This is truly reason for alarm.
Haaretz journalist Akiva Eldar is one of the leaders of a campaign designed to, in the organizers’ words, “embarrass and stymie the Netanyahu government” and keep the “Israeli occupation in the news.” He is one of a group of leading media and academia leftists who are planning worldwide protests during Jerusalem’s festive 50th year, seeking to boost opposition to Israel’s continued presence in Judea, Samaria, and, of course, eastern Jerusalem.
Their idea is to enlist prominent Jewish figures in the U.S. and Israel to sully the majority of the Israeli public that has for many years now voted right wing. The campaign is expected to cost some 30 million NIS, or $8 million, funded through organizations such as J Street and the New Israel Fund.
The work has already been divided up. Several leading left-wing Israeli professors are responsible for recruiting “peace” organizations, while others are in charge of keeping the “anti” campaign constantly in the international media.
The organizers’ mission statement states that the aim is to create a “change of thinking” among the Israeli citizenry, the Israeli government, and even international Jewry. Eldar said in a recent interview that he envisions the publication of an ad in major American newspapers – a different paper every week during the course of the 50th year – citing one “expert” or another as to why Israel must give up on a united Jerusalem and quit Judea and Samaria.
In short, our enemies from within are planning a tough year for lovers of Israel and Jerusalem. It behooves us to prepare a strategy to meet this threat.
For one thing, we must show how truly dangerous the radical Left has become. The more it loses its grip on public opinion – at least here in Israel – the more it attempts to thwart the will of the Israeli public, as expressed time and again at the ballot boxes.
It must also be pointed out that Eldar and friends seem not to have thought their ideas through. It is certainly easy to declare “Jerusalem must become a two-state capital.” But have they any notion at all as to how to do this? Should a fence be built down the middle of the city? What should happen to the many tens of thousands of Jews living in neighborhoods adjacent to the areas to be governed by the Muslim Palestinian Authority? What will be with the neighborhoods slightly farther away when Jews start emptying out, as happened in the 1950s? When they say we should leave Judea and Samaria, have they given even a fleeting thought as to what should be done with the 400,000-plus Jews living there?
However, as the organizers say, the goal is simply to embarrass Netanyahu and the nationalist camp – and so a realistic approach is not necessary.
This does not mean the threat must not be met – and the Zionist nationalist camp has precious little time left to decide how to do so. Two months ago, Education Minister Naftali Bennett declared that the coming school year would be “Jerusalem Unity Year” in the educational system. The details will be publicized this coming Jerusalem Day, but Bennett explained at the time, “Our [national] history began in Jerusalem, and from Jerusalem we will draw our strengths today as well. Those who try to detach the Jewish people from its city, should know that they have achieved just the opposite, and our links with it have grown stronger.”
Interestingly, in its attempt to sully Bennett’s campaign in favor of Jerusalem, a left-wing site named “Black Labor” presented the case for Jerusalem most succinctly: “It appears that Bennett sees his job as an opportunity to actualize and imbue the nation with the values in which he believes. As he said, ‘Education is primarily a matter of values.’ … He believes that the Jewish state was founded with the dynasty of King David, and that the Jewish nation then managed to survive for many years in Exile despite having lost its political entity. This entity was renewed when the Jewish people returned to Zion [in the 20th century]. We are now in a new era, Bennett believes – no longer one of survival, but of a true Jewish state based on Jewish values, in which these values must be strengthened.”
We couldn’t have said it better. For the sake of Jerusalem, let us all act to ensure that his goals are met. To paraphrase the Psalmist, “Let our right hand become stronger as we remember and act for you, O Jerusalem, and let our tongue not cleave to our palate as we speak out on your behalf in every forum.”
How can you get involved? Visit Jerusalem and participate in our bus tours in strategic areas (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). Speak up for Jerusalem. Learn to become an effective advocate for keeping Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty. Visit the Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech website at www.keepjerusalem.org.Hillel Fendel and Chaim Silberstein / KeepJerusalem.org