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Jerusalemites Celebrate 56 Years of Reunification

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

“Eternity is an endless story, and who better to tell it than Jerusalem?” asked the MC at the national ceremony to commemorate Jerusalem Day on Ammunition Hill. “All the battles we have fought, everything comes together to a single point, a single city… Jerusalem has more than 70 names and aliases. In addition, we each have our own personal impression of her. Jerusalem is here in our hearts.”

Israel’s President Hertzog addressed the gathering, including the “dear beloved bereaved families.” He said, “For two years now, my wife and I have been Jerusalemites; and we feel it. Every morning we wake up and feel elated to be here; all the senses are awakened by being here.” The President referred to Naomi Shemer’s song ‘Jerusalem of Gold’ and the line: “The mountain air is clear as wine.” “It is the place where even the walls listen,” he added.

In a call for unity, President Hertzog said:

“This is an eternal journey, and there is just one way of marching – together.” He ended his speech with: “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her” (from Isaiah 66:10).

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also addressed his “brothers and sisters, families of those who fell in the Six Day War….” He explained that at the beginning of the campaign, they said to one another: “Lehitra’ot (see you again), may we see each other in the liberated Jerusalem….” “While this dream served as their motivation, many beloved sons were not there in the end. Their blood which was shed on Jerusalem’s ground strengthens the covenant of our people with the Eternal City. We salute and honor the fallen and embrace from the bottom of our hearts their beloved family members.”

The Prime Minister then gave his own personal reflection, saying that, along with others present, he remembered well the unique atmosphere of June 1967. Before the war began, he recalled, due to the terrible and serious threats from surrounding nations, many even feared a second Holocaust. “But then…” he said and paused: “Then - with our backs to the wall - we rose up and together we fought back, all the Diaspora Jews behind us. Within one week we had returned to the estate of our ancestors.” He repeated: “The estate of our ancestors.”

“Those 19 years were certainly a low point in Jerusalem’s history; I can make the distinction between that time, my childhood, and now. My memories are of fences, minefields, hostile messages, of needing protection against snipers, and of not being able to go to our holy sites, only looking from afar.”

Netanyahu then told the story of Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Robert Aumann. He and a friend were standing near the border with Jordanian-occupied territory, in the neighborhood of Abu Tor, just two months before the war. They saw two pine trees just 100 yards away, beyond the 1948 line. The professor famously said to his friend that the chances of reaching the spot were “lower than getting to the moon.”

On the third day of the war, Professor Aumann was walking down the main street of Jerusalem towards the Old City and he suddenly saw an Israeli flag waving on the wall. He said it was the biggest moment of his life. He felt such huge joy at the expectation of a liberated, open city.

"As a teenager," reflected Netanyahu, “I remember hearing shells falling nearby where we lived in Katamon. As the news spread, I made my way with a whole river of people to the Western Wall. When I put my hands on the Kotel, I literally felt a tremor. We had gotten Jerusalem back! She is now back to life, a city where all faiths can worship freely. We are determined to keep the city open to all, and we will stand against any violence in and around the holy places.

“From Jerusalem comes our identity, our pride; and the light only increases, from victory in the Six Day War to eternity.”


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