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    Jerusalem Tag

    Wrapping up its session in Paris that began several weeks ago, yesterday the United Nation’s cultural agency adopted a Palestinian and Arab state-sponsored resolution on Jerusalem that ignores both Jewish and Christian attachments to Jerusalem’s sacred sites. As we noted in a recent post, the resolution had already passed on October 13 at the committee stage when 24 UNESCO member states supported the measure (6 states, including the U.S., voted against; 26 abstained; and 2 state missions were absent for last week’s vote).

    The United Nation’s cultural body—UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)—passed a resolution in Paris yesterday that challenges both Jewish and Christian ties to Jerusalem’s holy sites. The resolution was passed as Item 25 (titled “Occupied Palestine”) of the provisional agenda for UNESCO Executive Board’s 200th session. The document (full text here) was advanced by the Palestinians along with Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan. Twenty-four countries voted in favor of the resolution; 26 abstained; and only 6 voted against according to media reports. Those that voted against include: U.S., Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Estonia.

    On Tuesday morning July 12, 2016, the family of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, the 13-year-old Israeli girl who was brutally stabbed to death on June 30th as she lay asleep in her bed, was granted special permission to visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem—the most sacred site in Judaism. Hallel’s anguished parents, Rina and Amihai Ariel, had reportedly requested permission to ‘pray for the ascent of Hallel’s soul’ at the holy place that was dear to her and their hearts. [caption id="attachment_177363" align="alignnone" width="550"]Credit: The Times of Israel Credit: The Times of Israel[/caption] Rina Ariel had written directly to PM Netanyahu asking him to personally intercede. Via a YouTube video that went viral over the last few days, they also invited their fellow Israeli citizens to join them in the special prayer service:

    Over the last few weeks, hundreds of thousands of devout Muslims were guaranteed unfettered access to their holy spaces on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount—the most sacred site in Judaism. Throughout the holy month of Ramadan, which concludes on July 5, additional units of Israel’s National Police were mobilized to ensure that worshippers could safely pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site for Islam.

    Protection of Muslim Worshippers

    Since 1967 — when Israel liberated the Jewish holy sites in eastern Jerusalem — the Temple Mount has been administered by agreement through the Islamic Waqf, a Jordanian-funded trust which oversees the site’s day-to-day religious functions. The Temple Mount is the most sacred site in Judaism, sanctified as the place where the Jewish Temples existed in biblical times. It’s a place where Jews should have basic rights, including the freedom of movement and worship. But as we’ve noted in several prior posts (see here, here, here) because of the profoundly discriminatory “status quo arrangement” set in place in 1967 and subsequently upheld by Israel’s courts, Jews are prohibited from praying there for fear of potentially upsetting Muslim worshippers, stirring up tensions, and triggering violent Muslim backlashes.

    Sunday, June 5, 2016, was Jerusalem Day. Prof. Miriam Elman had a write up on the significance of Jerusalem Day and the liberation of the Old City, Jerusalem Reunited 1967: Three Israeli Soldiers, One Iconic Photo. Soldiers at Western Wall Then and Now The Israeli national holiday celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, after part of the city including the Old City, was under illegal Jordanian occupation since the 1949 Armistice Agreement was signed after Arab armies failed to destroy Israel in its War of Independence. Jerusalem Day is a very nationalistic holiday, similar to our July 4th Independence Day, with flags displayed almost everywhere. Tens of thousands of people stream into the city for the march towards the the Western Wall (the "Kotel").

    Tomorrow (June 5) is Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day). The newest addition to the Jewish calendar, it’s held on the 28th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar—six weeks after the Passover seder and one week before the eve of the holiday of Shavuot. In June 1967, 28 Iyar was the third day of the Six Day War. As I discussed in a post for last year’s Yom Yerushalayim, the day celebrates the reunification of Israel’s capital city, when Jewish forces brought Jerusalem “back to Jewish sovereignty”. There’s a huge amount of information and research on the two-day (June 6-7, 1967) Battle for Jerusalem, when the 55th Paratroopers Brigade retook the Old City and liberated Jewish holy places from an illegal Jordanian occupation.

    This past week, during the intermediate days of Passover (Chol Hamoed), nearly 900 Israeli Jews, roughly 100 to 300 per day, ascended Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Thousands of tourists also visited the sacred place over the course of the week. The site is the place of the two Jewish Temples in antiquity. It’s considered Judaism’s “holiest of holies” and is treasured by Jews across the planet. [caption id="attachment_136001" align="alignnone" width="600"]The Jewish Temple, replica The Jewish Temple, replica[/caption]

    The Republican candidates made a lot of pledges to the record-breaking pro-Israel crowd at last week’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, D.C. Among them was the promise that they’ll move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. So, if he becomes President, will Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or John Kasich move the American Embassy to Israel’s capital city? Don’t count on it.

    Promises, promises

    Moving the embassy would break with over two decades of bipartisan White House policy to circumvent the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, a law which mandates its relocation. [caption id="attachment_128948" align="alignnone" width="600"]U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv Beach Satellite [U.S. Embassy location on Tel Aviv Beach][/caption]

    Today, American Yeshiva student Ezra Schwartz was murdered in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank in Jerusalem. He was one of three killed when a Palestinian terrorist open fired into a traffic jam. The Jerusalem Post reports:
    Seven others were lightly wounded in the attack, two Israeli women and five American yeshiva students. They were all evacuated to the Sha’are Tzedek Medical Center. The Americans are due to be released. while the two Israeli women will be hospitalized overnight. ... Initial reports suggest that the terrorist fired at the cars as he drove by them and was even able to reload this gun. He then sped in the direction of the Alon Shvut settlement, but slammed into a car.

    When Professor Jacobson asked if I wanted to write a post describing how we Israelis are feeling under the current onslaught of terror and vicious incitement, I thought to myself "How do I expand "furious, angry, frightened and frustrated" into a few hundred words? It is rather hard to put these harsh emotions into words and explain how they affect our lives, but I shall try. Having taken not one single survey, so my apologies for generalizing and extrapolating from my own emotions, I think the dominant feeling amongst the Israeli populace is not fear or terror (though there is that too) but anger, accompanied by a good deal of frustration.

    Frustration with Our Leadership

    We are angry at the government, particularly at Binyamin Netanyahu who urges us not to let the terror affect our lives. Mr. Netanyahu, it IS affecting our lives! How could it not? And yet, we are also frustrated because we know that Bibi is right. We were more frustrated a few days ago because we felt the government wasn't being forceful enough in confronting the wave of terror, and concentrating on defensive rather than offensive steps. But they seem to be on the right path now, with the new open-fire legislation and easing the rules of engagement for the police and IDF.
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