A Divided Jerusalem
The hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees in Europe at the end of World War II put pressure on Britain to revoke the White Paper. However, the Arabs did not want an influx of Jewish refugees into Palestine. The British were not able to control the rising violence between the Arabs and Jews, so they brought the issue of Palestine to the United Nations.
On November 29, 1947, the United Nations approved a partition plan for Palestine. The plan ended the British Mandate over Palestine, and gave part of the country to the Jews and part of the country to the Arabs. The Arabs rejected this partition plan and declared war.
Arab forces besieged Jerusalem. In six weeks, 1490 men, women and children - 1.5% of the Jerusalems Jewish population - were killed. Arab forces seized the Old City, and expelled the Jewish population.
The Old City and its holy places, then, became part of Jordan. Jordan did not allow Jews to visit the Western Wall or other holy sites, a direct breach of the 1949 UN armistice agreement that ensured free access to holy sites. The Jordanians destroyed hundreds of Jewish graves, some of which were from the First Temple Period. Jewish synagogues were also desecrated and destroyed.
Jews, however, remained in the New City of Jerusalem. Upon the establishment of the State of Israel, Jerusalem was declared the capital of the Jewish State.
Thus Jerusalem was a divided city, with the eastern part belonging to Jordan and the western part serving as the capital of the Jewish State of Israel.
A United Jerusalem
In 1967, Israel's neighbors challenged her borders. Syria regularly fired artillery at northern Israeli settlements, and the Syrian air force encroached upon Israeli air space. Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran, which was a virtual declaration of war. And 100,000 Egyptian troops began moving across Sinai toward Israel. With fears that Arab aggression was imminent, Israel struck on June 5, 1967.
Jordan entered the war by opening fire on Jewish Jerusalem. In the midst of the violence, the mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek, wrote this message to Jerusalemites:
Citizens of Jerusalem! You, the inhabitants of our Holy City, were called upon to suffer the vicious onslaught of the enemy.... In the course of the day, I traveled through Jerusalem. I saw how its citizen, rich and poor, veteran and new immigrant alike, children and adults, stood steadfast. No one flinched; no one failed. You remained cool, calm, and confident while the enemy launched his assault upon you.
You have proved worthy inhabitants of the city of David. You have proved worthy of the Psalmist: 'If I forget you, O Jerusalem, left my right hand lose its cunning.' You will be remembered for your stand in the hour of danger. Citizens have died for our city and many have been wounded. We mourn our dead and will care for our wounded. The enemy inflicted much damage on houses and property. But we will repair the damage, and we will rebuild the City so that it will be more beautiful and treasured than ever.... (Jerusalem Post, June 6, 1967)
Two days later, Israeli soldiers stormed through Lion's Gate and through the Dung Gate to take control of the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. Within hours, Jews flocked to the Wall - some in a daze and others weeping out of joy.
For the first time in almost 1,900 years, Jews now controlled their most holy site and their most holy city. An editorial in the Jerusalem Post reveals how Jews felt about the reunification of Jerusalem under Israel.
This capital city of the State of Israel has been the focal point of prayer and longing in the course of long tragedy-ridden centuries in the history of the Jewish People. Jerusalem suffered .... Its population was killed or exiled. Its buildings and houses of prayer destroyed. Its fate packed with grief and sorrows. Undeterred by recurrent catastrophe, Jews throughout the world and throughout centuries stubbornly persisted in praying to return here and rebuild the city.
The present harmony should not blind us to the magnitude of the task ahead. It may take time for Israel's friends to realize that the unification of Jerusalem....is not in the interest of Israel alone. There is every reason to believe it will prove a blessing for the city's whole population and for the genuine religious interests of the great religions. The guarantee of freedom of worship contained in Israel's Declaration of Independence will pervade the place, as is befitting the City of Peace. (Jerusalem Post, June 29, 1967)
Jewish ties to Jerusalem go back to the time of Abraham, are unbroken, and are unmatched in history.
During the last 33 years of Jewish control of a unified Jerusalem, the rights of all religious groups were respected and free access to all religious sites was guaranteed.
On January 8, 2001, thousands of Israeli men, women and children plan to surround the city - by holding hands. They will peacefully protest the proposal to divide Jerusalem, giving east Jerusalem and the Temple Mount to the Palestinians in exchange for a Palestinian promise for peace.
Would you join this protest?