Israel Celebrates Jerusalem Day: The Day that “Changed the Fate of Israel”

June 3, 2019

by: Jo Sarah Stanford

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Tens of thousands march the streets of the City of David in celebration of Jerusalem Day. (Illustrative.)

Monday, 3 June 2019 | The Israeli calendar is punctuated with days set aside to remember. Some are somber, commemorating the tragedies, sacrifice and loss scattered throughout the history of the Jewish people. Others are joyous, recalling the triumphs, miracles and bravery on which the Jewish state is built. Jerusalem Day, or Yom Yerushalayim, certainly falls into the latter category.

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the reunification of the City of Gold, the eternal capital of Israel. Just over half a century has passed since the searing summer day during the Six Day War of 1967 when a brigade of Israeli paratroopers broke through the Lion’s Gate in the Old City, reclaimed the Kotel (Western Wall) and liberated Jerusalem. Yesterday marked 52 years since the ancestors of Abraham and David returned to their eternal capital, 52 years since the City of Gold was reunited and 52 years since the Jewish people have been able to say, “This year in Jerusalem!”

For the past few weeks, the City of Gold has been decked in blue and white finery for the special celebrations. Posters and banners advertised the joyous events to come. Flags adorned with the Star of David and the Lion of Judah—Jerusalem’s municipal emblem—streamed proudly from lamp poles, bridges and high-rises.

Since sunrise yesterday morning, Israelis from all over the country flocked to Jerusalem to take part in the Yom Yerushalayim festivities. Just after midday, the main roads in Israel’s capital closed in preparation for the traditional Jerusalem Day parade known as the Flag March. Tens of thousands of people—all decked out in white and blue—started from the city center and headed toward the Damascus Gate and into the Old City. From there the route wound through the Muslim Quarter, before reaching the Western Wall for an official Jerusalem Day ceremony.

It is a jubilant pilgrimage that paints the city in the vivid colors of the flag of Israel. Streets resounded with the jubilant sounds of young voices singing “Am Yisrael Chai” (the nation of Israel lives). On street corners and in public squares, friends and perfect strangers joined hands to dance the rikud degalim, or flag dance.

Security at the event was high, with 3,000 police deployed on the day, reported the Times of Israel. Security forces anticipated outbreaks of violence, but the march itself passed without incident.

Earlier in the day, however, there were violent clashes on the Temple Mount—the holiest place in Judaism—as Muslims rioted in protest of Jews being allowed on the site. Israeli police allowed Jews to enter the site in celebration of Jerusalem Day, and some 1,200 ascended the Mount under heavy police guard. Muslims protesting Jewish access to the site during the final days of Ramadan (one of the Five Pillars of Islam when stringent disciplines are observed) barricaded themselves in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, throwing stones and chairs. Police quickly gained control of the situation and seven rioters were arrested, reported the Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on Jerusalem Day at the weekly parliamentary Cabinet meetings. “We are marking 52 years since Jerusalem was unified in the Six Day War. The war changed the fate of Israel. It removed us from a chokehold and danger of destruction, turned us into a strong regional power.

“It brought one more thing: The unification of the capital of Israel. We returned, I remember personally, to Jerusalem, the cradle of our people, our culture and our faith, between the walls, and this moved the entire nation, all of its parts.”

Ilse Strauss contributed to this report.

Posted on June 3, 2019

Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 3, 2019)

Photo Credit: Utilisateur:Djampa/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia