Jerusalem 2017

Jerusalem 2017

© David Burton 2017

Jerusalem Day 2017

     The walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, rebuilt by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1538, stand as an emblem of time and the struggle for control of the ancient city. Entering the Old City, one instantly feels a connection to history, to the Biblical Era and the thousands of years of worship, war and transformation that define the city of Jerusalem.

     When the State of Israel was declared in May of 1948 , it was proposed that Jerusalem would be an international city for 10 years and then a vote amongst the residents would determine if the city would be Israeli or Jordanian. Rejecting the Israeli proposal, Arab nations mounted an attack and invasion of the new state with the objective of destroying it and driving out its Jewish inhabitants. On 26 May 1948, Egypt’s president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, announced that “We intend to open a general assault against Israel. This will be total war. Our basic aim will be to destroy Israel. (Ref. 1) Jordan joined in the onslaught and captured the Old City and the eastern side of Jerusalem, thereby creating a divided Jerusalem.

     In 1967, Jordan again attacked Israel after Israel asked Jordan to refrain from the hostilities of the Six Day War. After six days of fighting, Israel defeated the Egyptians, the Syrians, the Iraqis and the Jordanians and gained control over all of Jerusalem. “On June 6 Israeli paratroopers surrounded the Old City and at 10 a.m. on June 7 they liberated the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. Gen. Motte Gur stood near the Wall and emotionally announced over the radio” ‘The Temple Mount is in our hands!’
     “The IDF’s chief rabbi, Major-General Shlomo Goren, arrived at the Kotel and blew a resounding blast on the shofar {ram’s horn} and said a prayer: ‘This is the day we have been yearning for. Let us rejoice in it.’
    - - -
     “. . . All day the radio played Naomi Shemer’s ‘Jerusalem of Gold’ – ‘Yerushalayim shel Zahav.’ The song had been released just weeks before the war and it quickly became a victory anthem.” (Ref. 2)

     For the first time in 19 years, Jews gained access to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. One of the laws passed following the Six Day War guaranteed free access to the many holy places of the city by the members of every religion. That law has been scrupulously observed ever since!

     This year, Jerusalem Day falls on May 24, 2017 (28 Iyyar in the Hebrew calendar) and marks the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. It’s the golden anniversary of the liberation of “Yerushalayim shel zahav”, Jerusalem of Gold.

     At the end of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, Jerusalem stood divided. Israeli forces controlled most of the city, while East Jerusalem, including the Old City, was controlled by Jordanian forces. The Old City was important for strategic and religious reasons, as many sites of religious importance are in this part of the city. These include: the Dome of the Rock and al-Asqa Mosque (Muslims); the Temple Mount and the Western Wall or Kotel (Jewish); and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Christian).

     “On June 7, 1967, . . . Israeli forces liberated and reunified the Old City of Jerusalem. . . .” (Ref. 3) thereby returning the city to its original status as the undivided capital of the of Israel.

     As former president, Barack Obama, stated in 2008, “Let me be clear. . . Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” (Ref. 4) Unfortunately, he and other leaders around the world have failed to adhere to this pronouncement.

     The history of Jerusalem is bound up in the history of the numerous nations and peoples that have, at one time or another, ruled over the city. They include: the Canaanites, the Assyrians, the Persians, the Babylonians, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, the early Israelites, the Jordanians, the Arabian Moslems, the Christian Crusaders, the Ottoman-Turks, the British and modern Israelis.

Ancient Jerusalem

     Archaeological evidence traces the existence of ancient Jerusalem back some 5,500 years. Its history extends well prior to the pages of the old Testament. Though the city has Jewish roots stemming back perhaps four thousand years, the actual city itself is much older. Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities on earth, and one of the longest occupied cities in human history.

     Jerusalem has long been the center of the first monotheistic religion, Judaism. Here, many of the events associated with the second oldest monotheistic religion, Christianity, took place, making it one of the most revered locations for that religion. Many members of the third oldest monotheistic religion, Islam, consider Jerusalem to be its third most hold site, based upon a reference to a “far-away” mosque reported in a dream of their prophet, Muhammad.

     The name Jerusalem is variously ascribed to being derived from Salem, Ursalim, or Roshlamem. Shalem was the name of the god of the evening star in the Canaanite religion, whose name is based on the same root S-L-M from which the Hebrew word for "peace" is derived (Shalom in modern Hebrew). The name, Jerusalem, is therefore sometimes interpreted as meaning "The City of Peace".

     The name Jerusalem consists of two elements: Jeru and Salem. To the ancient Canaanites, Jeru may have meant "foundation" or "city, " while Salem was the name of the god of the evening star. Thus, Jerusalem may have had the meaning to the Canaanites of “city of the god of the evening star”. If so, a certain sanctity was associated with the city of Jerusalem even before King David conquered it.

     “People had lived there as early as 5000 BCE. In the early Bronze Age, around 3200 BCE, . . . people buried their dead in tombs in Jerusalem’s hills, and started to build small square houses in what was probably a walled village on the hill above a spring.   . . . Then in the 1900s BCE,  . . . some pottery, shards of which were discovered near Luxor in Egypt, mentions a town named Ursalim, a version of Salem, god of the evening star.   . . .” (Ref. 5, pg 18)

     “Evidence for the existence and occupation of ancient Jerusalem dates back before even the Bronze Age, an Age stretching approximately from 3,300 BCE to 1,550 BCE. Ceramic evidence has dated the ancient city into the Chalcolithic Period, ca. 3,500 BCE. This Copper Age pottery indicates that the site of Jerusalem was in use well before it was ever mentioned in the Old Testament.
      - - -
     “The first Biblical mention of Jerusalem is not under that name, but rather under the appellation Salem. It occurs in Genesis 14:18. . .
     "’And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.’
     “This incident involved Abraham during his daring rescue of Lot from King Chederlaomer, . . . Upon returning from his successful campaign, Abraham met Melchizedek . . . outside of Salem, or ancient Jerusalem. Melchizedek . . . was the king of Salem. This would later be the site of the Amorite city Jebus, and later {Jerusalem} the capital city of King David and Israel.” (Ref. 6)

     Jerusalem’s association with Israel and the Jews can therefore be traced back about four thousand years and Jerusalem today conveys a sense of the ancient through the multitude of ruins that exist there. It constitutes one of the few spots on earth where the world of antiquity interacts with modern technology, providing a truly unique integration of the old world with the new.

     The bulk of the recorded material on Jerusalem starts with King David, as described in the Old Testament. Jesus spent much time in Jerusalem, as documented by the New Testament.

     “With a history extending over some 4,000 years, Jerusalem has been inhabited longer than almost any other city in the world and has had a long succession of rulers. Its first recorded connection with the Biblical kingdom of Israel occurs in the middle of the second millennium BCE. Around 1000 BCE, King David (c. 1013 BCE– c. 973 BCE ) made it the capital of a united Israel. At that time, King David captured the Jebusite citadel of Zion and renamed it the City of David. He repaired its walls and brought the Ark of the Covenant there.[5, Pges 26-27]

David and Solomon

     Jerusalem became “the spiritual center of the Jewish nation when David's successor, King Solomon, built the First Temple 50 years later. Within the next thousand years, the city was conquered and destroyed by the Babylonians (586 BCE ) and the Romans (70 CE), who rebuilt it yet once more under the name of Aelia Capitolina in 130 CE.” (Ref. 7)

     From its beginning in Israelite history, first as the city of David, and then as the site of the Holy Temple built by his son, Solomon, Jerusalem has been sacred to the Jewish people. King Solomon “took seven years to finish the Temple, and thirteen to build his own palace.  . . . {He} fortified Mount Moriah by expanding the old walls: henceforth the name ‘Zion’ described both the original citadel and the new Temple Mount.” In dedicating the Temple, Solomon is said have declared to God: “I have surely built thee a house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide forever.” From that moment, “the concept of sanctity in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic world found its eternal home. Jews and other Peoples of the Book believe that the Divine Presence has never left the Temple Mount.(Ref. 5, Pges 32-33)

     “Jerusalem has been Jewish ever since it became a city; it has never been Islamic. King David was first to choose Jerusalem as the site of the capital of the Israelite kingdom and his son Solomon built the first Holy Temple there soon after, in keeping with the Biblical command to build the Sanctuary in the ‘place that G-d has chosen’.
     “This took place some 1400 years before the birth of Mohammed.
     “Jewish sovereignty in the city lasted over a thousand years and over the course of those centuries, the Jewish bonds with the Holy City became ever stronger, although the Babylonians conquered the land for several decades during the millennium.
     “In the second century CE the Romans subjugated Judea and ultimately totally sacked the city, but it remained the Jewish Nation’s eternal capital . . .” (Ref. 8)

     During the reign of King Hezekiah (715 - 686 BCE), he had a 1,700 foot long tunnel built “to link the Gihon Spring outside the city to the Siloam Pool, south of the Temple Mount below the City of David”, which ensured a water supply to the city during any siege. “North of the Temple Mount, Hezekiah dammed a valley to create one of the Bethesda Pools to deliver more water to the city.”[5, Pg 42]

The Persians

     “On the 9th of the Jewish month of Ab, August 586 {BCE}, after eighteen months {of siege}, Nebuchadnezzar broke into {Jerusalem}, which was set on fire . . . A month later . . . {the First} Temple was destroyed . . . and the Ark of the Covenant vanished forever.(Ref. 5, Pgs 48-49)

     The Persian king, Cyrus the Great, allowed the Jews in Babylonia - more than 40,000 - to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their Temple. “In 515 {BCE}, the Second Temple was dedicated. (Ref. 5, Pg 55)

The Greeks

     Around 30 BCE, the Greeks took control of Jerusalem. Many of the Jews of Jerusalem adopted the Greek culture. “{T}here were many worldly Jews who probably looked like rich Greeks, living in their new Grecian palaces on the western hillside known as the Upper City. What the fanatical Jewish conservatives regarded as heathen pollution, these cosmopolitan Jews saw as civilization. This was the start of a new pattern in Jerusalem: the more sacred she became, the more divided. Two ways of life existed in the closest proximity with the intimate loathing of a family feud.” (Ref. 5, Pg 64) In many ways it was a precursor of life in modern Jerusalem with the animosity between Arabs and Jews and that between ultra-Orthodox Jews and secular Jews.

     In 164 BCE, the Greeks were driven from Jerusalem and the Holy Temple was reclaimed by Judah the Maccabee (the hammer). On 14 December of that year (the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev) he presided over the rededication of the Holy of Holies. “The liberation and re-sanctification of the Temple are still celebrated in the Jewish festival of Chanukah – the Dedication.” (Ref. 5, Pg 70)

The Romans

     In the years preceding the birth of Christ, Herod the Great , a prodigious builder, “pulled down the existing Second Temple and built a wonder of the world in its place . . . {He} dug down to the foundation rock and built from there . . . he expanded the esplanade of the Temple Mount to the south, filling the space with a substructure held up by eighty-eight pillars and twelve vaulted arches now called Solomon’s Stables, to create a 3-acre platform, twice as large as the Roman Forum . . . {T}he Holy of Holies . . . rested upon the rock where Abraham was said to have almost sacrificed Isaac, and where David built his alter.  Herod’s Antonia Fortress guarded the Temple Mount in the north.” (Ref. 5, Pgs 90-91)

     Under Roman rule, Judaea became a province of Rome and Jerusalem was ruled from Caesarea (built by Herod the Great) on the Mediterranean coast.


     The Christian association with Jerusalem can be said to date to 33 CE, when Jesus arrived in the city. The next day, Jesus prepared for Passover on the western hill of Jerusalem (later known as Mount Zion). Two days later, probably the morning of the 14th of Nisan, or Friday, April 33, Christ was sentenced to be crucified by Pontius Pilate.[5, Pgs 108-111]

     Some 34 years after Christ was crucified in Jerusalem, the Second Temple was destroyed by the Roman general, Titus Flavius Vespasianus, during an uprising dubbed “The Jewish Wars”. On 29 July 67 the city fell.

     In 130, the Roman emperor, Hadrian “visited Jerusalem . . . and decided to abolish the city, even down to its very name. He ordered a new city to be built on the site of the old one, to be named ‘Aelia Capitolina’.” (Ref. 5, Pg 140)

     Aelia Capitolina became a minor Roman colony of 10,000 in “Palestina”, without walls, less than ½ its former size. The site of Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection were buried under Hadrian’s Temple of Jupiter.[5, Pgs 144,146]

The Byzantines and the Persians

     Constantine, ruler of the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire took control of the Roman empire in 312. Constantine and his wife Helena embraced the new religion. Soon after, Helena visited Jerusalem and “changed the city forever. She built churches of the Ascension and of the Eleona on the Mount of Olives. Her third church {was} the Holy Sepulchre, which took ten years to complete . . . By 333, Aelia Capitolina was “a bustling Christian temple-city.” (Ref. 5, Pg 155) Jews were severely discriminated against and banned from Jerusalem.

     Later, Emperor Julian, Constantine’s nephew, “restored Jerusalem to the Jews . . . They reclaimed the Temple Mount.” (Ref. 5, Pg 157) This was reversed in 363 CE by Julian’s successor.

     Shortly after 600, the Persians conquered virtually the entire Roman East and took control of Jerusalem. The Persians first returned Jerusalem to the Jews in 614 and then back to the Christians in 617.[5, Pgs 169-171]Jews would not control the Temple again for 1,350 years.” (Ref. 5, Pg 171)

     On 21 March 630, a significant event took place in Jerusalem. The Byzantine emperor, Heraclius, having defeated the Persians, ‘rode up to the Golden Gate, which he had built for this special occasion. This exquisite gate became for all three Abrahamic religions, Jerusalem’s most potently mystical gateway for the arrival of the Messiah on the Day of Judgement.' ” (Ref. 5, Pg 173)


The Arabs

     Another event of significant importance to Jerusalem occurred in c. 570 - the birth of Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Muhammad was taught Christianity by a monk, studied the Jewish and Christian scriptures and came to venerate Jerusalem as one of the noblest sanctuaries. In 610, according to Islamic tradition, the Archangel Gabriel revealed to Muhammad that he had been chosen to be God’s Messenger and Prophet. [5 Pg, 178]

     “Muhammad revered the {Judeo-Christian} Bible . . . Importantly for the fate of Jerusalem, the Prophet stressed the coming of the Apocalypse that he called the Judgement, the Last Day or just the Hour . . . All the Judeo-Christian scriptures stressed that this could take place only in Jerusalem.
     “One night, his followers believed that, as he slept beside the Kaaba {a sacred black stone in the city of Mecca}, Muhammad had a vision. The Archangel Gabriel awoke him and together they embarked on a Night Journey mounted on Buraq, a winged steed with a human face, to the unnamed ‘Furthest Sanctuary.’  . . . Jerusalem and the Temple are never mentioned but Muslims came to believe that the Furthest Sanctuary was the Temple Mount.” (Ref. 5, Pg 178)

     Later, “in Medina, with its Jewish clans, he created the first mosque, adopting the Jerusalem Temple as the first qibla, the direction of prayer. He prayed at Friday sundown – the Jewish Sabbath – fasted on the Day of Atonement, banned pork and practiced circumcision . . . The Jewish tribes resisted Muhammad’s revelations and his control. Hence he changed the qibla to Mecca and rejected the Jewish way. . .

     In 632 Muhammad died and was succeeded by his father-in-law, Abu Bakr, who was acclaimed Amir al-Muminin, Commander of the Believers. After Abu Bakr died, he was succeeded by Omar, one of the Prophet’s first converts.[5, Pg 179] who occupied Jerusalem around 638.

     The Muslim conquerors initially shared shrines with the Christians living in Jerusalem and the Jerusalem Jews welcomed the Arabs after centuries of Byzantine repression. The city, at this time, was overwhelmingly Christian and Omar settled Arabs there. “Some of the Prophet’s closest followers, known as the Companions, came to Jerusalem and were buried in the first Muslim cemetery just outside the Golden Gate, ready for the Day of Judgement.” (Ref. 5, Pg 185)

The Umayyads

     The Arabs, for many years ruled Jerusalem from Damascus in Syria and Jerusalem was identified on some Syrian coins of the era “as ‘Iliya Filastin’ – Aelia Palestina.” (Ref. 5, Pg 187) The Syrian governor, Muawiya, was tolerant to both Jews and Christians. He settled Jews in Jerusalem and allowed them to pray on the Temple Mount. He also “built the first mosque there, flattening the rock of the old Antonia Fortress, extending the esplanade and adding an open-sided hexagon, the Dome of the Chain.  . . . {Muawiya was} the first of the Umayyad dynasty.” (Ref. 5 Pgs, 188-189) In 685, a successor to Muawiya, Abd al-Malik, became the Commander, and it was he who created the Dome of the Rock in 691/2. Later, Abd al-Malik and his son built the Further Mosque, al-Aqsa, Jerusalem’s mosque for ordinary Friday prayers, at the southern boundary of the Temple Mount.[5, Pgs 190-193]

     Around 720, the Umayyad Caliph Omar II (caliph being a new title for the leader of Islam) “banned Jewish worship {on the Temple Mount} - and this prohibition would stand for the rest of Islamic rule. Instead the Jews started to pray around the four walls of the Temple Mount . . . “ (Ref. 5, Pg 195)

The Abbasids

     Abu al-Abbas, father of the Abbasid dynasty and descendant of Abbas, the Prophet’s uncle, ousted the Umayyads and declared himself caliph around 750. The Abbasids retained control of Jerusalem till 969 when they were ousted by the Fatimids.

The Fatamids

     The Fatamids were in control of Jerusalem from 969 till 1099, beginning with the Fatamid caliph Muizz. The Fatimid rule over Jerusalem lasted for 130 years. Under the Fatimids, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was totally destroyed in 1099. In 1033 an earthquake devastated the city. The Fatimids rebuilt al-Aqsa and the city walls. With Byzantine help, they rebuilt the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 1048.[5, Pgs 195-209]

The Crusades

     In 1099, Christianity came to Jerusalem in the form of the crusades. On the 17th of July of that year, Jerusalem fell to the invading Crusaders, who slaughtered some 10,000 Jerusalemites, “including 3,000 packed into al-Aqsa.” (Ref. 9, Pg 222)

     The Crusaders retained control of Jerusalem for nearly a century. But in the summer of 1187 Saladin, leading an army of Arabs, defeated the Crusader forces at the Horns of Hattin. On October 2, 1187, Saladin entered Jerusalem. Saladin showed tolerance toward the Christians and Jews of Jerusalem. He briefly closed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but then turned it over to the Greek Orthodox. He invited back many Armenians and Jews.[9, Pg 266] In 1192, “Saladin allowed Latin priests back into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. When the Byzantine emperor Isaac Angelus demanded it for the {Eastern} Orthodox, Saladin decided that they must share it under his supervision and appointed Sheikh Ghanim al-Khazraj as Custodian of the Church, a role still performed today by his descendants, the Nusseibeh family.” (Ref. 9, Pg 274)

     Saladin died on 3 March 1193 and was succeeded by his brother, Safadinm who ruled as sultan for 20 years. He commissioned the double-gate – the Gate of the Chain and the Gate of Divine Presence – which still forms the main western entrance to the Temple Mount. [9, Pgs 275-276]

     The Arabs remained in control of Jerusalem until February 1229, when the city once more came under Christian oversight. Jerusalem was put under the control of Crusader Fredrick II, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Sicily. The Muslims kept the Temple Mount. Frederick remained the master of Jerusalem for the next 10 years. In 1238, the Templar Crusaders expelled the Muslims and regained control of the Temple Mount. But, on 11 July 1244, Central Asian Tartars thoroughly destroyed Jerusalem. The Holy City would not be Christian again until 1917.[9, Pgs 279-283]

The Mamluks

     The Mamluks were a military caste in Egypt that rose from the ranks of slave soldiers who were mainly Turkic peoples, Circassians, Abkhazians, Georgians, and Copts. Many Mamluks could also be of Balkan origin (Albanians, Greeks, and South Slavs). They held political importance from the 9th to the 19th centuries. In 1263, Sultan Baibars “began the Mamluk mission to resanctify and embellish the Temple Mount and the area around it. . . . Baibars and his Mamluk successors . . . were to rule Jerusalem for the next 300 years.” (Ref. 9, Pgs 287-288) On 18 May 1291 the Mamluks captured Acre, the last remaining Crusader foothold in Palestine, thus ending the “Kingdom of Jerusalem”. At that time, “there were only 2,000 inhabitants left in Jerusalem, just 300 Christians and only two Jews.” (Ref. 9, Pg 290)

     The Mamluk rule over a declining Jerusalem lasted until 1517. In 1415, “{th}ere were only 6,000, Jerusalemites, with just 200 Jewish and 100 Christian families.” (Ref. 9, Pg 296)

The Ottomans

     On 24 August 1516, the Mamluk army was defeated by the Ottomans and the Middle East would remain Ottoman for the next four centuries. On 30 March 1517, the Ottoman sultan took possession of Jerusalem. In September of 1520, the sultan died and was succeeded by his son, Suleiman the Magnificent, who ruled over the city till his death in 1566. Under Suleiman, Jerusalem was revitalized. The population almost tripled to 16,000 and the number of Jews doubled to 2,000.[9, Pgs 303-305)

     In 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain. Jews were welcome by Suleiman and the Ottoman empire, with many coming to Palestine and some to Jerusalem. Suleiman “assigned the Jews a 9-foot street along the supporting wall of King Herod’s Temple for their prayers. . . . The Jews soon called this place ha-Kotel, the Wall, outsiders called it the Western or Wailing Wall.” (Ref. 9, Pg 308) Ladino-speaking Sephardi Jews from Spain and Ashkenazi Jews from eastern Europe were now making pilgrimages to Palestine and Jerusalem, with some settling there.

     Between 1705 and 1799 the great JerusalemFamilies” rose to prominence. “Most of the Families were descended from Sufi sheikhs who had been favored by one conqueror or another.” (Ref. 9, Pg 321) . Included in these Families were the Husseinis and the Nusseibehs, both prominent right into the twenty-first century.

     Jerusalem did not fare particularly well under Ottoman rule. By the late 1820’s, Jerusalem was “fallen, desolate and abject.” (Ref. 9, Pg 338)

The Albanians

     In December of 1831 an Albanian who created a dynasty that still ruled Egypt when Israel declared statehood, led the Egyptian army through the streets of Jerusalem. The Albanians ruled the city for a decade, during which time they allowed the restoration of St. Savior’s Church, and permitted the Jews to start rebuilding the ben Zakkai and Hurva synagogues.[9, Pgs 342-346] In 1840, “there were only 13,000 inhabitants {of Jerusalem}, but 5,000 of them were now Jews.” (Ref. 9, Pg 350)

The Americans

     In October of 1840, America came to Jerusalem in the person of the U.S. consul-general of Syria and Jerusalem. At that period of time, there was much interest in the Holy City because of the belief among Evangelical Christians that the Second Coming was at hand. In fact, “Jerusalem was now so overrun by apocalyptic Americans that the American Journal of Insanity compared its hysteria to the California Gold Rush.” (Ref. 9, Pgs 350-351)

The Russians

     In 1846, the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Easters fell on the same day. The two groups took to fighting in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which resulted in some 40 deaths. The Russian presence in Jerusalem had been aided by new railways and steamships and particularly by convenient sea travel from Odessa in Russia to Jaffa in Palestine. As a result, “{i}n Jerusalem, the streets glittered with the gold braid and shoulder-boards of Russian uniforms, worn by princes and generals, while teeming with the sheepskins and smocks of thousands of peasant pilgrims, all encouraged by {Czar} Nicholas who also dispatched an ecclesiastical mission to compete with the other Europeans.” (Ref. 9, Pg 357)

The British

     The EnglishMontefiores were the first of a new breed of powerful and proud European Jews, determined to help their benighted brethren in Jerusalem.” (Ref. 9, Pg 339)

     In July 1855 Sir Moses Montefiore came to Jerusalem and visited the Temple Mount, borne in a sedan-chair so that he did not break the prohibition against walking where the Holy of Holies once stood. He “had persuaded the sultan to let him rebuild the Hurva Synagogue, destroyed in 1720, and even more important, to buy land in Jerusalem to settle Jews.” (Ref. 9, Pg 366)

     In 1859 Montefiore started construction of a windmill outside the Old City in Mishkenot Sha’ananim, part of the Yemin Moshe neighborhood across the valley from Mount Zion (also known as the Montefiore Quarter). The windmill was to provide the power for Jews to bake their own bread. Unfortunately, the windmill failed to live up to its promise but it still stands as a tourist attraction. “{T}he opening in 1860 of {the} little Montefiore Quarter was the beginning of the new Jewish city outside the walls {of the Old City}.” (Ref. 9, Pg 369)

     In 1862 the British Prince Edward, later King Edward VII visited Jerusalem. In 1865 a telegraph line between Jerusalem and Istanbul was put into service. Montefiore visited Jerusalem several more times in his lifetime, the last being in 1875.

Jerusalem Today [10]

     Jerusalem today continues to rapidly modernize and grow. At the same time, the ancient structures remain intact as a symbol of the eternity of the Jewish people. Few cities in the world are as historically, spiritually and culturally rich as Jerusalem, where the Old City meets the modern world.

     It’s possible to walk through the city’s cobbled streets and to find ancient ruins and artifacts hidden among the modern buildings and parks. The city of Jerusalem blends ancient history with modernity and the embracing of distinct cultures, nationalities and religions.

     The walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, rebuilt by Suleiman the Magnificent nearly 500 years ago, are a reminder of time and the struggle for control of the ancient city. When one enters the Old City, one instantly feels a connection to history, to the Biblical Era and the thousands of years of worship, war and transformation that have taken place there.

     Leaving the Old City through Jaffa Gate, one is immediately confronted by the stark contrast of the ancient and the modern. One instantly encounters luxurious housing complexes, hotels, art dealers and some of the finest shopping in the country. The high-class Alrov Mamilla Avenue shopping promenade contrasts markedly with the mystical Old City of Jerusalem. The new city center is filled with trendy nightlife, restaurants, and shopping, adding an unmistakable 21st century flair. A small portion of the interesting features of modern-day Jerusalem are described in the following paragraphs.

     The Ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Meah Shearim and Geula impart the image of 16th and 17th century Europe, as Chasidim rush through the streets in traditional Ultra-Orthodox clothing that has remained unchanged since the days of their European ancestors.

     Machane Yehuda (known as the shuk) is the largest and most ethnically diverse outdoor market in Israel and is regarded as the cultural meeting point in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the home of the Israeli parliament (Knesset), the Supreme Court, universities, museums and cultural centers, as well as industrial and technological enterprises. Even as Jerusalem continues to modernize, its ancient structures remain intact as a symbol of the triumph and endurance of the Jewish people and their survival. It is almost inconceivable to consider once again dividing this holy city.

     Mount Herzl is Israel’s national cemetery, the equivalent of our Arlington National Cemetery. It lies on the west side of Jerusalem beside the Jerusalem Forest and was named after Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, whose remains were moved there in 1949. Also buried there are all the state presidents, prime ministers and chairpersons of the Knesset, with a few exceptions, such as David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and Chaim Weizmann. In a separate part of Mount Herzl is Jerusalem’s military cemetery, with many nearby monuments.

     In the military cemetery, all soldiers, regardless of rank or unit, are buried side by side. The gravestones are plain and unadorned, only recording name, rank, and place and date of birth and death.

     Yad Vashem is located on Jerusalem’s Mount of Remembrance on the western part of Mount Herzl. Yad Vashem is a complex that contains two types of sites - memorial museums and monuments, and a research institute. Memorial sites include: the Holocaust History Museum; the Museum of Holocaust Art; the Children's Memorial; the Hall of Remembrance; the Valley of the Communities; the Cattle Car Memorial; various sculptures; and a synagogue. The Holocaust research facilities are grouped around a research institute and include archives, a library, a publishing house, an educational center, and the International School for Holocaust Studies. Yad Vashem honors non-Jews who, at great personal risk, saved Jews during the Holocaust, and have been designated by Israel as the "Righteous among the Nations".

     The Memorial Path, leading from the entrance of Yad Vashem up to the Mount Herzl National Cemetery, was established in 2003 and includes plaques that mark important events from the beginning of Zionism until the creation of the State of Israel.

     The German Colony is one of Jerusalem's most prominent neighborhoods. The "German" in "German Colony" comes from the area's founders, the Templars, a religious splinter group of German Protestants who, in the mid-1800s left Germany for the Holy Land in anticipation of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. These Templars had no relation to the Templars of Crusader days.

     The Templars established a thriving community in Jerusalem in Emek Refaim (Valley of Ghosts). Today, Emek Refaim is the name of the main street in the German Colony. The German Colony is quite near the famous Montefiore’s Windmill. The German Templars left a prominent architectural stamp on the German Colony, lending it its distinctive modern patchwork of German and Middle Eastern buildings, whose lintels often bear stylized inscriptions in Arabic and German. Unfortunately for them, the Templars threw their support behind Hitler during the 1930s and were later deported by the British to Australia at the outbreak of World War II.

     The beautiful landscaping and stately manors of the colony attracted the moneyed, who turned a sleepy neighborhood street into one of the foremost upscale restaurant and shopping districts in Jerusalem. The high quality of life in the revitalized colony then attracted a steadily-increasing flow of immigrants from the English-speaking West, particularly the United States. The German Colony is now largely peopled with upper-class Israelis and Americans.[11]

     Adjacent to the German Colony is the recently-opened, renovated and restored First Railway Station of Jerusalem. It is fast becoming a new center for culinary, leisure and cultural entertainment. Open to the public 7 days a week, the complex includes the restored station building( in the style of nineteenth-century European Templar architecture), a vast wooden deck for strolling and entertainment, temporary exhibitions, and historic artifacts such as the original train wagons and locomotive. The railway station was in use from 1892 to 1998, serving as the first and last stop along the Jerusalem- Jaffa rail line.

     In addition to several restaurants, there’s a bar, ice-cream, fresh juice, and health food stands/shops, along with a farmers’ market located in the food market zone. The station offers a culinary workshop center, a pub and a tourist information office. It also serves as a point of departure for walking, cycling and Segway tours in the immediate area of the Railway Park and beyond. The marketplace includes a variety of produce vendors, with food stands placed near the railway along with music, literary and art events. Culture and art options include a gallery showing changing exhibitions, fashion, design, food and toy fairs throughout the week, festivals and performances, and collaborations with schools of art and design. In addition to the cycling and Segway options, visitors can also enjoy a sports accessories and equipment shop and cycle center, yoga and zumba classes which are open to all during the mornings. There is a craft activities center for children and community Kabbalat Shabbat (welcoming the Sabbath) and Havdalah (after the end of the Sabbath) events with live music, singing and dancing and activities for all the family. Entrance to all events is free of charge. [12]

     The Menachem Begin Heritage Center is located near Montefiore’s Windmill, the First Railway Station of Jerusalem and the German Colony. It lies on the Hinnom Ridge, overlooking Mount Zion and the walls of the Old City. The museum is an experiential, multimedia exhibit which tells the story of one of the most important chapters in the history of the State of Israel through the life of Menachem Begin. The museum provides historical reconstructions and reenactments, rare dramatic documentary videos, interactive touch-screen exhibits, striking presentations and a surround sound narration. Visitors are “invited” to experience firsthand and to “take part” in the different chapters of Begin’s life – his childhood in Poland, his years as the commander of the pre-State of Israel underground Irgun, the leader of the Opposition and finally, as Prime Minister of the State of Israel. [13]

     The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens are located in the heart of Jerusalem in the Neve She’anan area. The Botanical Gardens are spread over 65 acres and have plants from all over the world. It is organized by geographic region, e.g., there is a North American area and an Australian area. In addition to the outdoor areas, there is an enclosed tropical greenhouse where tropical plants are grown. The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens are a real gem and it’s worth spending at least half a day there, especially if the weather is good.

     Located in the heart of Jerusalem, Gazelle Park or Gazelle Valley ("Emek HaTzavim" in Hebrew) is a nature reserve for a herd of gazelles which has managed to survive within the city's limits. Its unpaved trails can easily be hiked, and strollers can also travel on part of the trails. At intervals on the trails, the city has placed benches and chairs for viewing the gazelles and other wildlife. The botanical path includes various types of local plants with explanations.

     Gazelle Valley is home to a herd of about 15 gazelles that roam freely there. The park opened to the public in March of 2015 and is described as Israel’s first urban nature reserve.

     The Mamilla Mall, also known as Alrov Mamilla Avenue, is an upscale shopping street and the only open-air mall in Jerusalem. It is located just outside of the Jaffa Gate and consists of a 1/5-mile long pedestrian promenade lined by 140 stores, restaurants, and cafes. The modern mall has retained the facades of 19th-century buildings from the original Mamilla Street, as well as the original structures of the Convent of St. Vincent de Paul, the Stern House, and the Clark House. While the Mamilla Mall would fit in to upscale districts of London and Paris, it still retains a distinctive Jerusalem atmosphere

     Ben Yehuda Street, most commonly referred to simply as the midrachov (pedestrian mall), is the heart of Jerusalem's downtown business district and the axis around which much of its tourist life revolves. Dozens of gift shops line the street. Restaurants on the street tend toward the falafel and ice cream end of things. At nearly all times, the street is filled with an eclectic crowd of Jerusalemites and tourists, street musicians, self-styled prophets, Chabad emissaries, teenage Israelis, guitar-slinging young Korean Christian choirs, police, beggars, and just bout everyone else. Some say that Ben Yehuda Street conjures up everything weird and wonderful about Jerusalem.

     Yad LaKashish (Lifeline for the Aged) is on Shivtei Street, behind the Jerusalem City Hall and just north of the Old City. Yad LaKashishwas started in 1962 and provides a place where some 300 low income seniors come to create hand-made Judaica and craft items, which are then sold in the Yad LaKashish gift shop. They even create their own paper from recycled paper. These senior citizens receive a stipend, breakfast, lunch and passes that entitle them to use the municipal transit system free of charge for working mornings during the workweek. The work they produce varies from bookbinding, to hand made cards, to toys, to Judaica, and much, much more. The skills exhibited are quite surprising and the prices are more than reasonable. This is a great place to find real bargains and, at the same time, contribute to the support of some needy senior Israeli citizens. It’s within walking distance of the Old City.

     Speaking of the Old City, there are numerous places to visit there. First, there is the entire City Wall that surrounds the Old City. One can walk around the entire Old City on the the Old City Walls Ramparts Walk. Eight gates are built into the City Wall. Seven are open and one remains sealed. The four main gates - Jaffa Gate, Damascus Gate, Lion's Gate and Zion Gate - were constructed according to the four directions of the compass.

     The New Gate, facing north, is essentially a breach in the wall, opened in 1887 to provide direct access into the Christian quarter. The Damascus Gate is the main entrance to the Muslim quarter. Herod's Gate, also facing north, is also called the Flower Gate because of the floral designs engraved on its facade. The Lions' Gate, is also known as St. Stephen's Gate. The gate faces east.

     The Golden Gate, also facing east, According to Jewish tradition, this is the gate through which the Messiah will enter Jerusalem. To prevent the Messiah's entry, the Arabs sealed the gate several centuries ago. The Zion Gate, or David's Gate, stands on Mount Zion. This gate faces south. The Dung Gate, facing south, is the entrance closest to the Kotel.

     Within the walls of the Old City one finds numerous sites of historical and religious significance, including: the Temple Mount, the Kotel, King David's Citadel and Museum, the Cardo, the Broad Wall. the Hurva Synagogue, the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Bethesda Pools, the Karaite Synagogue, the Western Wall Tunnels, the Wohl Archaeological Museum, the Burnt House and many other places worth visiting.

The Temple Mount

     “The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism. It is the place where the First and Second Temples stood, and where the midrash tells us that Abraham, father of the Jewish people, came to bind his son Isaac. A basic tenet of Judaism is the belief in the redemption and when that occurs, the Third Temple is to be built on the same site as the first two.” (Ref. 14)

The Jewish People’s Eternal Connection to Jerusalem

     There are ongoing attempts by anti-Semites and Israel-haters of the world to deny the connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and, particularly, to the Temple Mount. “Those seeking to destroy Israel recognize that repudiating the historic existence of the Jewish presence in Jerusalem is vital to their attempts.” (Ref. 9) But, each passing year continues to bring new archaeological discoveries from ancient Jerusalem that reaffirm anew the unquestionable historic relationship between the Jewish people and Jerusalem, dating back more than three millennia.[15]

Jerusalem and the Arabs/Moslems

     Here are several facts concerning Jerusalem and Arabs/Moslems: 1) Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Islamic nation; 2) During its occupation of Jerusalem and the West Bank (1948-1967), Jordan did not make Jerusalem its capital; 3) Jordan did not create a Palestinian State from the West Bank with Jerusalem as its capital; 4) With respect to the claim that Jerusalem is the 3rd holiest site in Islam, this is not the belief or claim of all Moslems. The Sunni branch of Islam holds this belief. For Shiite Moslems, Najaf in southern Iraq is the 3rd holiest site in Islam; and 5) Jerusalem is never once mentioned once in Islam’s holy book the Koran. While the Koran mentions a place called “the far-off mosque” it could not have been Jerusalem since there were no mosques in Jerusalem at the time of Muhammad! [16]

     The Arab/Moslem relationship to Jerusalem has largely been an exercise in rewriting history as they would wish it to be – not as it has been and is in reality. “Part of the {Arab/Moslem} process of delegitimizing the Jewish state is to deny that Jews have any historical or religious connection to the land of Israel and much of this denial centers around Jerusalem.” (Ref. 9)

     No national Arab entity has ever established a national state in Israel from when it was first conquered in 640 by followers of Muhammad up to the present day. Nearly all Palestinian Arabs are very recent newcomers to Israel, being “descendants of Arabs who immigrated to the Land of Israel a few generations ago illegally from Arab and Muslim countries.
     "To strengthen the case that they are the sole heirs to the Land of Israel, the Palestinian Arabs initiated a campaign to expunge 3000 years of Jewish history in Israel.  . . .
     “The name Palestinian was appropriated in order to suggest an ancient connection to the land.  . . .” (Ref. 9) But, “Palestinian” is neither Arab nor Moslem. It comes from the name Palestinia, the name the Romans gave of the Land of Israel. Similarly, Arab, Moslem and “Palestinian” claims to Jeruslem and its holy sites are - to put it mildly - highly suspect and unsubstantiated by historical, biblical and archaeological evidence.

Undivided and Open to All

     Israel made clear from the very beginning of its statehood in 1948, that it considered Jerusalem to be its capital and that it would safeguard access to the holy sites there for everyone, On 5 December 1949, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion addressed the Israeli parliament (Knesset) and stated:

     “. . . since {Israel} became a united nation under King David three thousand years ago {it} regards Jerusalem {as} its holy city . . .
     “When we proclaimed the establishment of the renewed State of Israel, on 14 May 1948, we declared that, ‘The State of Israel will guarantee freedom of religion and conscience, of language, education and culture. It will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions. . .’ Accordingly, our elegation to the U.N. announced that Israel would honor all the existing rights regarding the holy places and sacred buildings in Jerusalem, assure freedom of worship and free access to all the holy sites under its control, recognizing the rights of pilgrims of all religions and nations to visit their holy places and assuring freedom of movement for clergymen. . .
     “At the same time we see fit to state that Jewish Jerusalem is an organic, inseparable part of the State of Israel, just as it is an integral part of Jewish history and belief. Jerusalem is the heart of the State of Israel. We are proud of the fact that Jerusalem is also sacred to other religions, and will gladly provide access to their holy places and enable them to worship as and where they please. . .
      - - -
     “A nation that, for two thousand and five hundred years, has faithfully adhered to the vow made by the first exiles by the waters of Babylon not to forget Jerusalem, will never agree to be separated from Jerusalem. . .
      - - -
     “We hope that the religions which honor Jerusalem's sanctity and the nations which share our belief in the principles of peace and justice will honor Israel's rights in Jerusalem, just as Israel honors those of all the religions in its sacred capital and sovereign state.
(Ref. 17)
         - David Ben Gurian, December 5, 1949 (Ref. 17)

     Contrast Israel’s guarantee to “honor all the existing rights regarding the holy places and sacred buildings in Jerusalem, assure freedom of worship and free access to all the holy sites under its control, recognizing the rights of pilgrims of all religions and nations to visit their holy places and assuring freedom of movement for clergymen” with Palestinian/Islamic refusals to allow anyone but Muslims to pray on the Temple Mount, their violent attempts to disrupt Jewish prayers at the Western Wall (Kotel) and their harassment, (including murder) of practitioners of all religions other than theirs. Israel has backed up its promises with action – it has done what it said it would do – there is total freedom of religion in Israel and especially in Jerusalem.

     Adding insult to injury, we have witnessed the actions of the United Nations in attempting to ignore historical and archaeological facts and deny any Jewish connection to Jerusalem and its holy sites, while at the same time, repeating the blatant lies promulgated by so-called “Palestinians” and anti-Israel nations.

Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Day 2017

     On May 12, 1968, the Israeli government proclaimed a new holiday – Jerusalem Day – to be celebrated on the 28th of Iyar, the Hebrew date on which the divided city of Jerusalem became one. On March 23, 1998, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Day Law, making the day a national holiday. In addition, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has declared Jerusalem Day a minor religious holiday to mark the regaining of access to the Western Wall.

     Often quoted during Jerusalem Day clebrations are the words spoken by then Defense Minister Moshe Dayan on the afternoon of June 7, 1967, the day that Jerusalem was reunified:

This morning, the Israel Defense Forces liberated Jerusalem. We have united Jerusalem, the divided capital of Israel. We have returned to the holiest of our holy places, never to part from it again. To our Arab neighbors we extend, also at this hour—and with added emphasis at this hour—our hand in peace. And to our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens, we solemnly promise full religious freedom and rights. We did not come to Jerusalem for the sake of other peoples' holy places, and not to interfere with the adherents of other faiths, but in order to safeguard its entirety, and to live there together with others, in unity.
         - Moshe Dyan, June 7, 1967 (Ref. 18)

     While Jerusalem Day celebrates the reunification of the city, Jerusalem can still be said to consist of two cities – one ancient and the other modern. But still, there is only one Jerusalem – the undivided capital of Israel – one mystical and holy city with many different and intriguing facets.

     “Congress passed a law in 1995 mandating the move of the embassy to Jerusalem, but allowed the president a waiver. Each president since then has routinely exercised the waiver, citing the national security interests of the United States.” (Ref. 19) Most recently, however, on 2 April 2017, “US Vice President Mike Pence told AIPAC {American Israel Public Affairs Committee} that "the president of the United States is giving serious consideration to moving the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv {to Jerusalem}". (Ref. 20) Previously, It had been reported that the Trump administration was pushing forward with plans to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. At the time of the report, it was said that the move, which had been debated for years but never implemented, could be made as early as May 24, 2017, "Jerusalem Day". Prior to being sworn in as president, Donald Trump had endorsed the idea. As a presidential candidate, Trump had acknowledged to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Jerusalem had been the eternal capital of the Jewish people for over 3,000 years. At that time, it was promised that the U.S., under a Trump, administration, would accept the long-standing congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the state of Israel.[21]

     There is no country in the world, other than Israel, where the United States does not locate its embassy in that country's chosen capital city. Having made a pledge to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, it's important that President Trump follows through with his promise. This will reinforce the message that America stands four-square behind its ally, Israel. With respect to the impact of such a move on Arab nations in the region, moving the embassy to Jerusalem is much less likely now to create an uproar in the Arab world than previously. The main concern of the Arab countries in the Gulf region is not Jerusalem these days, but that of Iran's influence. Also, when dealing with the Arab world, it's important to project decisiveness and strength. Donald Trump made a promise and, by his following through with it, Arab countries will likely look at the President's keeping his word and see a strong, decisive leader and actually respect him all the more more for it.

     In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Israel’s capital, it would be most fitting for the United States to announce on this year’s Jerusalem Day that it is moving its embassy to Jerusalem. It’s time for the anti-Semites and the Israel haters of the world to be told that they can never win. Israel is here to stay and it’s here to stay with Jerusalem as its eternal and undivided capital! If not now, when?


  1. ”Peril For Israel Wherever It Looked”, Abba Eban, The Jewish Press, Pages 1 & 98, 3 June 2016.
  2. When A Divided Jerusalem Became Whole, Dvora Waysman, The Jewish Press, Page 6, 3 June 2016.
  3. Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) in Israel,, Accessed 26 July 2016.
  4. Transcript: Obama's Speech at AIPAC,, 4 June 2008.
  5. Jerusalem; The Biography, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Published by Alfred A. Knopf; ISBN 978-0-307-26651-4, 2011.
  6. Ancient Jerusalem,, Accessed 29 July 2016.
  7. Jerusalem:6. History,, 2000.
  8. Divide Jerusalem? No way!, Hillel Fendel, The Jewish Word: Vol II, No 6, Pages 14-15, June 2016.
  9. Denying the Jewish Connection to the City of Jerusalem, Dr. Alex Grobman, The Jewish Word: Vol II, No 6,
    Pages 16-17, June 2016.
  10. Jerusalem: The Modern Ancient Capital,, 21 May 2011.
  11. German Colony,, Accessed 7 August 2016.
  12. First Railway Station of Jerusalem,, Accessed 7 August 2016.
  13. Menachem Begin Heritage Center,, Accessed 7 August 2016.
  14. The Jewish Temple Mount Controversy: To Ascend or not to Ascend, The Jewish Word Staff,
    The Jewish Word: Vol II, No 6, Page 22, June 2016.
  15. Archaeology brings ancient Jerusalem to life, City of David Staff and the Jewish Press Editors,
    The Jewish Word: Vol II, No 6, Pages 20-21, June 2016.
  16. The Religious Conflict over Jerusalem: Judaism versus Islam, Mordechai Kedar, The Jewish Word: Vol II, No 6, Page 19, June 2016.
  17. Statements of the Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion Regarding Moving the Capital of Israel to Jerusalem,, Accessed 26 July 2016.
  18. 40th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 16 May 2007.
  19. Trump Pledges to Move U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, The Jerusalem Post, 20 January 2017.
  20. Trump 'seriously considering' moving United States embassy to Jerusalem, Oren Liebermann, Fairydetox,
    2 April 2017.
  21. Donald Trump promises to move US embassy to Jerusalem as Netanyahu praises ‘clear support’ for Israel, Feliks Garcia, Independent, 12 December 2016.


  4 May 2017 {Article 288; Israel_32}    
Go back to the top of the page