Photo Credit: Jewish Press
2018 Annual Flag Dance March arrives at Damascus Gate entrance to Old City of Jerusalem

Israel’s traditional yearly Jerusalem Day Flag Dance march has been rescheduled for this coming Thursday, June 10, just days before a new government is to be sworn into office.

The event usually takes place on Jerusalem Day; this year the march was disrupted and then cancelled altogether by police when Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization began firing rockets at the Israeli capital. The “Guardian of the Walls” mini war with Hamas that followed lasted for 11 days and forced Israelis from the south to the center of the country repeatedly into bomb shelters.

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So the Flag Dance March, a happy event that highlights the reunification of the previously Jordanian-occupied section of the capital with the rest of the holy city, passes through the Muslim Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem on its way to the Western Wall, where the march ends each year in a celebration.

But leftist Israeli politicians are calling to cancel the “do over” march.

Yesh Atid MK Ram Ben-Barak claimed while speaking at a “Culture Shabbat” event hosted by Daphna Liel in Modi’in on Saturday the rescheduled event is an attempt to “thwart the change government.”

“We are at the beginning of difficult days in which a lot of pressure and attempts will be made to thwart the change government, but in the end, a new era will begin here. The will to form a government that will unite the division in Israeli society will overcome all attempts to thwart it,” Ben-Barak tweeted.

“It’s not a Flag Dance March,” he wrote in a separate tweet, “it’s a March of Matchsticks.”

The heads of the Labor, Meretz and Arab Joint List parties also warned on Saturday about the possible negative outcome of the Flag Dance March, emphasizing their belief it could be a deliberate attempt to thwart the formation of the “change government.” Labor and Meretz are also participants in the “change government” coalition.

Jerusalem Police have authorized the march, which passes through the entrance gates – except the Damascus gate — and streets of the Old City, according to a report by Israel’s Hebrew-language N12 News outlet, and the Kan News public broadcaster.

The march, which features a line for men and a line for women, concludes at the Western Wall Plaza with a rally celebration.

“We are returning to march through the streets of Jerusalem with heads and Israeli flags raised,” said a statement posted on social media by several organizations. “We will sing and dance for the Land of Zion and Jerusalem! Come wave the flag, and rejoice in the celebration of Jerusalem!

Flags Parade poster
Come in droves.”

Hamas spokesperson Muhammad Hamadeh, based in Jerusalem, called on Arabs to oppose the march. He exhorted supporters to “protect [Al Aqsa Mosque in the Temple Mount compound] from the malice of Zionism and their schemes,” Israeli media reported.

Hamadeh said in a news release, “All greetings to those stationed in the Al Aqsa courtyards, the sons of our Palestinian people from Jerusalem, the occupied interior and the West Bank.

“What is happening in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the meantime, from the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the storming of the Al-Qibli prayer hall and the attack on the worshipers who are taking refuge there from the occupation army, is a religious war practiced by the occupation and it is evidence of the brutality of the Zionist occupation and its Nazism.

“We call on our people to persevere in the face of the storming [of the mosque] and to offer the precious as a sacrifice for the purification of Al-Aqsa and to prevent it from being penetrated by the settlers.

“We affirm that the occupation will pay a heavy price as a result of its incursion into Al-Aqsa and its worshipers,” Hamadeh concluded.

As politicians ratchet up the pressure for and against the march, tensions between Jews and Muslims are climbing higher, particularly in the mixed cities where there were days of violent riots; Jewish residents were attacked repeatedly by Arab rioters, and in several places Jewish agitators attacked Arab residents as well.

It remains to be seen how those pressures will affect the right-wing Yamina party and the Islamist Ra’am party, both of whom are members in the soon-to-be-sworn-in “change government” but declined to comment or negotiate on the government during Israel’s Operation Guardian of the Walls.”

Right-wing MK Itamar Ben Gvir said in a statement issued in response to the efforts being made to prevent the event from taking place, “In the face of the anger of the far-left government we will march in Jerusalem.

“It is amazing that after they sold the Negev, gave up on the rule of law and folded to Ra’am, now even the Flag Dance March in Jerusalem causes them to claim it is a ‘provocation.’

“Jerusalem is our capital forever and ever and we will march everywhere, with joy,” Ben Gvir added.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.