There is No Zionism Without Jerusalem
By Ilana Brown
Jerusalem is part of the Jewish people in the same way that the heart is part of the human body.
It is not merely an organ that keeps the body functioning. Without it there would be no life.
The last line of the Passover Seder calls for “Next Year in Jerusalem!” Before the groom breaks the glass at his wedding he says “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem...”
When Jews pray, they face Jerusalem.
Ethiopian Israelis chose Jerusalem Day to commemorate the Ethiopians who died on the long trek to Israel.
The song “Jerusalem of Gold” is recognized the world over.
The national anthem of Israel concludes with the line “To be a free people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.” Both with religious and secular associations, the list goes on and on.
The State of Israel passed a law in 1980 declaring that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.” While not internationally recognized as such, until the law is changed, Jerusalem is the complete and united capital of the sovereign State of Israel.
Lt.-Gen. Mordechai “Motta” Gur, commander of the force in the Old City, a secular, native-born Jerusalemite, declared “The Temple Mount is in our hands! I repeat, the Temple Mount is in our hands!” He did not say “The Old City” or “The Jewish Quarter.” Rather, his Jewish heart told him that the important thing was the Temple Mount; the Temple Mount was in our hands.
By law, by religion, by emotion, Jerusalem is the center, the core, the heart of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
Along with the idea of two states for two peoples, we are asked to consider Jerusalem as the shared capital for these two states. We are told that holding Arab-majority neighborhoods in east Jerusalem as jailers is morally abhorrent. We are told that misguided Zionism has turned us into overlords. It might be suggested that Jerusalem was divided from 1948-1967 and it did not destroy the State of Israel or substantially damage the Jewish people around the world.
From the year 70 CE, when Jerusalem fell to the Romans, until 1967, the city was not under Jewish control. And yet, Jews around the world continued to yearn for Jerusalem – not for Tiberias, not for Safed, not for Hebron.
In 1948, when the Jewish state was established and immediately plunged into a war, the infant state was not able to hold Jerusalem. But still the people yearned for Jerusalem. And finally, when the paratroopers entered the Old City on June 7, 1967, religious and secular alike were awed by their achievement.
When a people fulfill a dream, a 1,900-year-old dream, how does that people abandon it and give it to someone else? How does one give up even part of that dream?
Zionism tells us that we have a legitimate right to have a state in our historic homeland. The heart of our homeland is Jerusalem. We need not apologize for advocating for our right to the Zionist dream, nor for fulfilling that dream.
Just try to imagine a Jewish homeland in Uganda, or in Alaska, or in Madagascar. Why does a Jewish homeland anywhere else seem hollow and empty? The answer is Jerusalem.
Ilana immigrated to Israel from the US in 2002 and has spent most of her career in Israel working for the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, Jerusalem. She also works with Im Tirtzu, Ilana handling communications in English and development as well as external relations.