There is No Zionism Without Jerusalem

Tags: Jewish Unity, Zionism, Nationalism, Jerusalem, History

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...” For those who pray daily, weekly, or on occasion, Jerusalem is the direction toward which we face. Jerusalem is mentioned 700 times in the Bible.  And the hope for the rebuilding of Jerusalem sustained us during years of persecution, despair and fear.

Ethiopian Israelis chose Jerusalem Day to commemorate the Ethiopians who died on the long trek to Israel, and sustained their connection to Jerusalem for thousands of years through their beautiful Sigd celebration

The song Jerusalem of Gold is recognized the world over, the city herself being always identified with the Jewish nation. 

Even Napoleon was astounded when he witnessed the Jews on Tisha B'Av praying, crying, for the destruction of our eternal center and affirmed the connection between Jews and Jerusalem that he, too, had learned of as a child as if it was a myth.

Because every Christian, every Muslim in the world understood - Palestine meant the Land of Israel It meant the Jewish homeland. World leaders and kings, popes and diiplomats, all affirmed, again and again, the centrality of Jews to Jerusalem, and of Jerusalem to the Jews. 

Both with religious and secular associations, the connection was alive for thousands of years, and today we face the newest attempt to destroy the Jewish nation - by destroying our heritage and destiny in Jerusalem and in the Land of Israel. 

We must protect the past from this attempt to annihilate Jewish memory and Jewish rights. We must protect the future from this attempt to wipe Jews off the face of the earth by destroying our history and the core of our existence.

The national anthem of Israel written over 50 years before the rebirth of sovereignty of the state concludes with the line “To be a free people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.

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.

Map composed by German theologian Heinrich Bunting - 1581

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 works at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, as well as with Im Tirzu and other organizations and communications efforts in Israel. 

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Tags: Jewish Unity, Zionism, Nationalism, Jerusalem, History