Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
In recent conversations with our youth concerning Jerusalem Day, I have come to understand that it is necessary to review some basic historical facts. Here are some of them:
1. In the War of Independence, the Jordanians won a difficult battle over the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and every last Jew was exiled from there. Jerusalem remained divided for 19 years, between 1948 and 1967. We were not allowed to enter the Old City or pray at the Western Wall and could only gaze longingly at it from afar.
2. During "the waiting period" before the Six Day War, a dark and gloomy atmosphere hung over Israel. The national mood was at its lowest point due to fear of a combined attack from the Arab states and an economic crisis. One of the famous sayings in Israel at that time was "Let the last one out ,turn out the lights." In other words, the last Israeli to leave was being asked to turn out the lights at Ben Gurion Airport.
3. Israel had to contend with a war from Syria, Egypt, Jordan ,and participation of armies of Iraq,Lebanon,and Saudia Arabia. The result was a crushing victory after six days. In the Arab world, the war was dubbed the "June War" in order to blur the humiliating fact that the attempt to destroy Israel failed after only six days. It's worthwhile to remember that we are not only celebrating the liberation of Jerusalem but also the salvation of Tel Aviv.
4. By the end of the war, Israel had liberated the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, Yehuda and Shomron, Ramat HaGolan and, of course, Jerusalem. The area added to the nation's borders was three times (!) greater than what it had been before the war.
5. It is difficult to describe in words the relief, the joy, and the excitement that was felt throughout the Jewish world 55 years ago today. Here's a quote from the newspaper Ha'aretz on the day after Jerusalem's unification: “There are no words to express the stirring emotions in our hearts at this hour. The Old City of Jerusalem is ours. Its gates are open and the Western Wall will no longer stand silent and abandoned. The glory of the past is no longer to be viewed from afar, but from now on will be a part of the new state, and will shine its light on the building of a Jewish society that is a link in the long chain of our nation’s history in our land."
Amen. Happy Jerusalem Day.