Next Sunday, May 29, is Yom Yerushalayim – a day that marks Israel’s liberation of eastern Jerusalem in 1967 and its subsequent formal reunification with western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
It is over 3,000 years ago – which is way before Islam existed – that King David chose Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people. And today Jerusalem remains Israel’s capital.
A flag parade through Jerusalem has been the customary way of celebrating this day for decades: Thousands of young people go out with flags, singing their way through the city along a route that culminates joyously at the Kotel. Seeing them lifts the spirits and brings hope for tomorrow.
The parade routinely enters the Old City via the Damascus Gate (below) and then proceeds on Hagai Street in the Muslim Quarter, which leads directly to the Kotel.
Last year, the parade was first rerouted away from the Damascus Gate by then-prime minister Netanyahu and subsequently halted by him altogether after Hamas launched a rocket that initiated days of active hostility (Operation Guardian of the Walls).
It is thus a matter of considerable importance that the parade go forward this year, proceeding according to its customary route.
We have endured enormous Muslim Arab violence in these past months, including with regard to our presence on Har Habayit (the Temple Mount). Radical Muslims have been distorting reality in their efforts to delegitimize Israel and deny our rights to our holiest site. Al-Aqsa (by which they mean all of the Mount) is theirs exclusively, they claim, charging that Jews “storm” it. (More on this below.)
In a similar vein do they object to the Flag Parade path that includes eastern Jerusalem – as they claim it is “theirs” as well. Our traditional mode of celebrating Jerusalem is referred to as a “provocation.” It’s all of a piece, be sure.
The Flag Parade is a statement of Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. There must be no place in the city where Jews cannot celebrate and no gate that is forbidden to us. To pull back would be to cede de facto part of the city to the Muslim Arabs – to make it a place where Jews should not go.
It is important to note here, once again, that eastern Jerusalem (the eastern part of a united city, never “East Jerusalem”) is identified as “Arab” only because it was rendered Judenrein by Jordan from the end of the War of Independence until the Six Day War in 1967.
On Wednesday: Minister of Public Security Omer Bar-Lev (Labor) – who, my readers likely know, is not one of my favorite politicians – checked with the police and then, surprisingly, gave the OK for the parade to proceed along its normal route. (Although in the end Bennett will have the final word.)
Right-wing groups celebrated the decision. Bezalel Smotrich, head of Religious Zionists, got it just right in his tweet praising the decision: “It’s a decision that should be obvious in a normal sovereign state.”
Of course, Hamas protested. In a video statement on Sunday, Ismail Haniyeh (pictured) declared: “I want to clearly warn the enemy against committing these crimes and these steps. The Palestinian people, led by the resistance…will not permit this Talmudic (sic) rubbish to go unanswered…We will resist with all our capabilities and we will not permit…thuggery in the streets of Jerusalem.”
He noted that, “this march was torn apart by Al-Qassam rockets one year ago.”
So did Regional Cooperation Minister Issawi Frej of the far left Meretz party protest; calling the plan provocative, he vowed to try to stop it from happening.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz also had reservations. If the situation gets worse before next Sunday, he reasoned, and we have to change the route, it will look bad, so maybe we shouldn’t plan on allowing this route at all:
“If there’s a deterioration in security in the next few days, and you say, it’s not a good idea right now to [allow the march to] go via Damascus Gate and Hagai Street, that capitulation will be dangerous in terms of the perception [among Israel’s enemies] of the security establishment and of the State of Israel. So, think hard and long before finally approving it.”
While Foreign Minister Yair Lapid had his own doubts about going ahead. If we have confrontations over the parade route, he said, it might cause diplomatic harm to Israel because this would follow the problems we just had regarding the Abu Akleh funeral.
And so, I dedicate the title of this posting jointly to the Defense Minister and the Foreign Minister.
Gantz is demonstrating weakness, letting our enemies, most specifically Hamas, know that by use of threats and violence they can cause us to moderate our behavior. He imagines that if we decide now not to go via the Damascus Gate, it won’t look bad, as it would if we had planned to use the traditional route and had to change at the last minute.
Can it be that he doesn’t get it? If we opt to use a different route now, because there might be violence otherwise, then Hamas already has a victory!
While Lapid is allowing negative international public opinion – worse, just the fear of such public opinion – to modify our behavior. He seems to be oblivious to the fact that international public opinion works against us even when our actions are sterling and that we must guide ourselves according to our own assessment of what is proper for us.
Sadly, we are not done yet. There are still other candidates for inclusion in my dedication of “Stupid Is, As Stupid Does!!” And, actually, this next one takes first prize.
Down in the Negev, at Ben Gurion University, Arab (read Bedouin) students held an anti-Israel demonstration celebrating Nakba Day.
The university administration had approved this demonstration, saying that the students had a right to freedom of expression. They felt it would “encourage diversity” and help Jewish students to meet their non-Jewish peers.
“We are proud of our female and male students who showed that they care about the world around them and expressed their opinion. Today they confronted opposing opinions, while remaining peaceful and keeping the demonstrations civil.”
Care about the world around them? Arabs promoting Nakba? I am not making this up, I could not. It does appear that a progressive-left stance has the effect of softening the brain.
We have a huge problem here.
The one with a working brain is Ruvik Danilovich, the Mayor of Beersheba:
“I received a disturbing video clip now from the Ben Gurion University campus, here in the State of Israel, and I couldn’t remain silent. Palestinian flags being proudly waved and songs lauding the enemies of Israel, whose only desire is to destroy [Israel].”
“I am embarrassed.”
Bravo to Mayor Danilovich for speaking out.
And the last item for this posting:
Last week three boys were arrested by Israel Police for reciting the “Shema” and bowing during a visit to the Temple Mount. They received a 15-day restraining order barring them from the Old City. The Police, in seeking the restraining order, said that the boys’ conduct could lead to a “violation of public peace.”
Honenu Attorney Nati Rom filed an appeal and the court overturned the restraining order.
Justice Tzion Sharai wrote in his ruling, “In my opinion, it is not possible to say that bowing and reciting Shema constitutes a reasonable suspicion of conduct that might lead to a breach of peace, as required by law.”
Said Rom, who was very pleased with the ruling:
“The Israel Police knows that this is not a criminal offense, so they are trying to claim all kinds of different and strange offenses against those who ascend the Temple Mount. We are happy with the clear court decision; it is time for police to stop harassing Jewish visitors to the mountain.”
OK, so far, so good. This felt like a cause for celebration. For too long Jewish religious rights on Har Habayit have been trampled.
But it turned out to not be so simple. “There is no change, nor is any change planned, on the status quo of the Temple Mount,” came the declaration from the government:
“The Magistrate Court’s decision is focused exclusively on the matter of conduct of the minors brought before it, and does not include a broader determination regarding the freedom of worship on the Temple Mount.”
What is more, the State will be filing an appeal to the District Court on this matter.
What is this? It’s not new. It’s appeasement, fear of violence – a readiness to sacrifice the rights of Jews in their holiest place, in order to keep the peace. Immediately Hamas declared that the Court ruling was “playing with fire.”
There is no room for a tongue-in-cheek response here, no place for being glib. This is serious and offensive stuff.
Jordan, which seeks ever greater control over religious sites in Jerusalem, and especially the Mount, declared that the ruling in favor of teens who recited ‘Shema Yisrael’ is “a gross violation of international decisions.” That, of course, is ludicrous. “Violation of international law” is just one of the charges regularly leveled at us by Muslim Arabs.
There is a great deal that must be said about Jordan, but I leave the issue now with a quote from the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty, article 9.3:
“The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.”
It is time for Israel to demand that Jordan live up to this. Jordan, whose king would not be on his throne if not for Israel. Jordan, which could not sustain its population without the large quantities of water acquired from Israel.
And so, we see there is a great deal that is very worrisome. But I am not panicked, for we have Bezalel Smotrich, and Ruvik Danilovich, and Nati Rom, and Tzion Sharai, and millions like them.
What we need, for starters, is a change of government. The current coalition is crumbling and I hope to write about this next.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.