I hate Flag Day in Jerusalem

I hate Flag Day in Jerusalem

Memory is both a blessing and a curse. I can’t remember where I put my house keys this morning, but I remember seeing the nightly television news post body counts of US soldiers killed in the Vietnam War. I remember celebrating Jerusalem Day as a child in the US.

But I don’t remember when this universal celebration of the Jews’ eternal capital became Flag Day, an “ultranationalist” and controversial. I was six years old when the 1967 Six-Day War broke out, but I still remember watching the wild celebrations when Israel, our tiny country, not only survived but actually emerged victorious. It seemed that the entire world shared in our happiness.

The joy was so overwhelming that the subsequent actions by the hero-of-the-moment, Moshe Dayan, were overlooked. We had been denied our holiest site for so long that a tiny bit of largesse, sharing the Temple Mount with the Muslims, seemed a small price to pay for “Peace.”

But in the following years, it became clear that the Arabs had no intention to share and no aspirations to coexist. Judaism’s holiest site with its foundations in peace became the focus of the “Palestinian” effort to murder every Jew on the planet. Hamas has as its symbol the Dome of the Rock behind crossed swords. The Oct. 7 massacre was named the Al Aqsa Flood. And while Palestinians make the dubious claim that the Al Aqsa Mosque is their third holiest site, their focus is on the other side of the Temple Mount, on the Dome of the Rock, the location of the Holy of Holies of the Jewish Temples.

A festive parade of Jewish soldiers during Passover in Jerusalem in 1948 Credit Rudolf Jonas KKL JNF Archive source JNS

At this stage, it could be credibly argued that had Moshe Dayan not immediately relinquished the Temple Mount, the Palestinians never would have made our holy site into a call to war.

Every year we celebrated Jerusalem Day, pointedly ignoring the intentional abandonment of it’s heart and soul.

But in 2013, Jerusalem day became controversial. In 2014, the ultra-left wing party, Meretz, called for canceling Jereusalem day as a national holiday and submitted a bill to repeal the Jerusalem Day Law passed in 1998, saying it symbolizes “the occupation”.

“The most prominent and disturbing example is the flag dance, which is nothing but a nice word for a parade of hatred and defiance of thousands of far-right activists inside Arab neighborhoods, a procession that often leads to violence,” said MK Issawi Freij. “This procession originated from the inferiority of those who know in their hearts that eastern Jerusalem is not their city.”

Israelis wave flags at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on the eve of Jerusalem Day, May 9, 2021. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90. (source: JNS)

An ongoing controversy surrounds the parade’s route which passes through the Muslim Quarter. Last year, approximately 50,000 Israelis gathered for the Jerusalem Day flag march. Security was heavy but scuffles broke out between Jews and Arabs. Adopting the left wing media’s narrative, the parade has been called “controversial” and “nationalist”. 

According to demographic data published from the 19th century onward, Jerusalem had a clear Jewish majority for most of the last two centuries. This changed as a result of the 1929 Arab riots targeting Jews. The British authorities responded by restricting Jewish religious freedom in the city’s holiest sites.

While critics claim Jerusalem Day is “nationalist”, it absolutely is not. Israelis who celebrate the day are not celebrating the unification of the capital. They are not expressing their nationalist aspirations. While thousands of Israeli flags are waved on the day, it is not “Flag Day”. On Wednesday evening, we will be celebrating our return to the threshing floor purchased by King David as the eternal site to serve the God of Israel.

Jerusalem Day is a religious holiday.

Jewish men hold Israeli flags as they enter the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, during Jerusalem Day celebrations on May 18, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
(source: JNS)

The Palestinians are clear on their motives, stating explicitly that their war against Israel is religious, focused on the Jewish, targeting the Jewish Temples. In a matter that defies logic but is consistent with Biblical scenarios, Israel’s worst enemies are Jews who fight to prevent other Jews from serving Hashem. They want to erase our connection to God. They want to erase Jerusalem as our inheritance from David and Solomon, and replace it with a nationalist symbol. And even more perplexing…they demonize Jewish nationalism.

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