Knesset Speaker marks Jerusalem Day: ”Post-Jerusalemism is post-Zionism”; Prime Minister: ”whoever suggests we remove the temple mount from our hands in order to bring peace, errs fatally—it will bring deterioration.”
Publicized: May 21, 2012
The Knesset Plenum marks 45 years since the reunification of Jerusalem in addresses by the Knesset Speaker, Prime Minister and head of opposition. Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, members of the city council, students, soldiers, and Jerusalem notables were present in the gallery.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin related to Jerusalem`s place in the Israeli identity: ”Political disputes about Jerusalem are unbearable, but apathy towards Jerusalem is the failure of the Zionist enterprise, a bankruptcy in Jewish education. Jerusalem day is not a holiday for the religious or the right, and it cannot be so. Any attempt by a specific community or specific political agenda to monopolize Jerusalem Day does a disservice to Jerusalem and distances it even more from the heart of our Jewish identity. There is no greater gift to Jerusalem than the secular return which has arisen of late.”
Rivlin said that ”a nation which gives up its symbols is a nation which loses itself, which disconnects from its life source and source of inspiration. Israeli`s wavering of Jerusalem is not a territorial waiver or one stemming from a political decision; rather, it stems from a lack of affinity, from neglecting the basic living, relevant connection with our symbols and tradition. The apathy towards Jerusalem is a failure of the Zionist enterprise. The absence of Jerusalem from the Israeli identity of our generation, and our children`s generation, is not a right or left-wing political failure, but a major flaw in our identity.”
According to Rivlin, ”the Hertzlian, political, security-focused Zionism which sees everything through the viewpoint of the necessity of survival deals with our existence, but cannot guarantee our identity. For that, the question will always be, what gives us more security? With Sharm-el-sheikh or without it? With Jerusalem or without it? If Israelis decide that we would prefer peace without Jerusalem, in any case Zionism will die out by itself through a natural process. Therefore, post-Jerusalem is post-Zionism.”
Rivlin added, ”I recently read about the opening of a new secular yeshiva in Jerusalem. It appears to me that of all the gifts Jerusalem received on its special day, this is the most beautiful. I dream of a Jerusalem where secular and religious Jews, Israeli and Diaspora Jews, see Jerusalem as the core of their identity, a place where they examine their identity; as the place where they design their Jewish identity, through a deep connection to the past, present, and future. This way we can rehabilitate our relationship to Jerusalem. This way we can return it to its place as a central and dominant ingredient in our and our children`s Jewish identity.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: ”On June 5th, 1967, I woke up in the apartment I rented in a house adjoining a school, since shells had fallen outside. Near the Hartman school was a small base. The Jerusalem back then was very different from the Jerusalem of today. Jerusalem on the eve of the Six Day War was a small, intimate and not very developed town. I remember the previous day, I was on the eve of my induction into the IDF and I remember the worry and distress which enveloped Jerusalem. With those harsh emotions, I remember a wonderful feeling of unity of mutual harmony and excitement that dominated the capitol and held me, as it did everyone, when I heard Motti Gur announce that the temple mount was in our hands.”
According to Netanyahu, ”the city`s physical unity, coupled with that of the nation, led to massive development in the city. Most of the nation was unity in a desire to develop and preserve a united Jerusalem. Once it was a sleepy town; today it is the largest city in Israel and will soon reach a million residents. The Jerusalemites among us remember faded-out Jaffa Street. Today it blooms, there is construction and the light rail.” Netanyahu turned to MK Ben Ari in order to praise him for the construction on Har Homa. ”Today, the light rail already travels within the city. Now another railway was cut into the hill, traveling from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in only 28 minutes.”
Netanyahu said, ”Yesterday, in a special discussion, we approved a special decision to develop Jerusalem and turn it into the biblical city, turn it into a biblical tourist focus; at the same time, we will build the Einstein museum. This connection between history and science is what characterizes Jerusalem and what expresses its fundamental nature.”
Netanyahu added, ”The union and unity is good for Jerusalem but are not good only for us; they are good for peace between the religions. Whoever suggests we release the heart of Jerusalem, the temple mount from our hands in order to make peace, makes a fatal error as it will lead to deterioration and the possibility of a rise of extremist Islam in our region and in the world. See the wonder of the inter-religious peace that is preserved thanks to the unification of Jerusalem and Israeli sovereignty.
”This sovereignty is firstly a responsibility for security. When we take the responsibility and the security off of our hands, who will take our place?
”Jerusalem is not just another capital city. It is an idea, an ideal. It expresses the strength of a vision, the flowing spring of our nation`s lofty values and mankind entire. We need to stop, one day of the year, and understand that we are experiencing the fulfillment of the prophets` dream, the longing for Zion, the return of Zion and the establishment of Zion.”
”Today we swear the same oath made by Hertzl at the conclusion of the congress in Basel, ”If I forget you Jerusalem, may I forget my right hand.” We swear now to a built Jerusalem, a city merged together, Israel`s eternal capital. Hag Sameach to Jerusalem,” said Netanyahu.
Opposition leader, MK Sheli Yachimovich, quoted Yehuda Amichai`s poem which ”talks about the eternal Jerusalem mixing of sacred and secular. It is a constant and far from easy challenge, to respect the past and draw spiritual strength from it, recognizing that it is a part of our spiritual structure. But in the sun and shade of our past we cannot forget to develop a life of prosperity, education, liberty, equality and peace. This is the mission which always lies on the Zionist enterprise, but in Jerusalem it comes into focus because it is our beating heart, as a nation and as a state. The intense yearning for the city were anchored in history, heritage, a feeling of collective identity and memory of sovereignty in our state, a memory which turned into the Zionist idea. Jerusalem is not just a religious capital, and not just a nice heritage; it is also a city with a present and future no less important than the past, with the supreme court as its stronghold of the law, with the Knesset, the house of democracy, with Hebrew University—one of the best in the world, as well as excellent yeshivot and Synagogues.”
Yachimovich added, ”Conquest of the city was imposed on us. Levi Eshkol tried to prevent a war, and to convince them that we wanted peace. Within three days of battle and a war of no choice, the Western Wall and temple mount were captured. There were tears of joy not only in the eyes of the young fighters at the wall, but in the eyes of an entire nation that experienced, besides mourning for the fallen, a sense of triumph. Jerusalem Day is a Jewish and Zionist day and it is precisely from this nationalism that we are commanded to experience an awe that Jerusalem is a holy city for others as well. The city`s spiritual sovereignty is cosmopolitan. From the city that was engulfed in battle, we are responsible for the message of justice and peace. ”A light unto the nations” is not a privilege, but an obligation.”
Yachimovich noted that ”only yesterday we heard barbaric cries of `Muhummad is dead,` calls which are the complete opposite of every Jewish and moral command to respect other religions. The multiplicity of religions in this city can exist in harmony only if we are steeped in tolerance. The onus falls on us to turn Jerusalem into a lighthouse of justice, equality, peace and fairness.
“Even if the current political situation is likely to mislead, in the past few years the vast majority of the Israeli public has reached the sober understanding that our existence in the middle east is complex and requires from us complex and non-absolutist solutions as well as pragmatics and realistic understanding.
”The prophet`s teaching makes us responsible to deal not only with borders, but with their content. A society in which the elderly age in peace with social security, a society of students and workers, with nutritional security and shelter for all. Last summer, tents were planted in Jerusalem`s Horse Park, as well as other places. They warned of the economic explosives which ticks no less dangerously than the political explosive of the Muggrabi bridge.
“Specifically on our capital, the one and only, falls a responsibility to be a city which does not enflame or create conflicts; rather, one that solves them with fearlessness and tolerance,” she concluded.
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