Sunday, May 20, 2012

Eydar - There is no Zionism without Zion

Dror Eydar..
Israel Hayom..
20 May '12..

In the thick of the devastation, in the face of the immense destruction the Romans left behind in Jerusalem, the great sage Rabbi Akiva Ben Joseph was wise enough to quote Zechariah's comforting prophecy: "There shall yet old men and old women sit in the broad places of Jerusalem, every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the broad places of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the broad places thereof." (Zechariah 8).

When he said this, he smiled a wide smile. At that moment, there was no one more delusional than him. Today we know that his delusions were actually an accurate forecast. He knew that as long as the nation lived, its heart could not be torn out. Wherever there were Jews, they turned their hearts in prayer toward Jerusalem. They mentioned Jerusalem every day, fasted in its memory, and at every occasion repeated the vow of the Jews who were exiled to Babylon: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy" (Psalm 137).

Some 1,800 years later, on the 28th of Iyar, 5727 (June 7, 1967) Israeli soldiers — the descendants of the sages, of the exiles of Babylon, Rome and Spain — restored Jerusalem to its rightful owners on a chariot of fire. "That is why the father laughed," wrote Natan Alterman in his famous poem "Ayelet." That is why Rabbi Akiva laughed — because this phenomenon remains unparalleled in world history, and any attempt to explain it using logic is bound to fail. "This smile remains a mystery," as the Alterman poem states.

The smile that Alterman refers to is the secret to the Jews' strength in exile. Even in the face of adversity, the Jews never had the tiniest doubt to whom Jerusalem belongs. Jerusalem is not holy to three religions, as the cliche goes. There are holy sites within it that are sanctified by three religions, but as a city it is holy only to the Jews. We made Jerusalem what it is, some 3,000 years ago: the city of David, the religious, cultural, political and spiritual center of the Kingdom of Israel. It was here in Jerusalem where Israel's prophets told the world of justice and redemption. It was only through the power of Jerusalem that the Zionist movement of recent generations was able to set in motion the incredible revolution that we have experienced. Zion has always asked about the welfare of its captives, who in turn remained forever faithful to Zion. (As Yehuda Halevi wrote in his poem "Zion," thou art doubtless anxious for news of thy captives.)

Therefore, talk of dividing Jerusalem, or making it a binational city, are delusional fantasies of individuals who have grown discouraged before reaching their destination. There is no Zionism without Zion. Historical and political obstacles are no reason to become discouraged. They merely require patience and faith. "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her triumph go forth as brightness, and her salvation as a torch that burneth" (Isaiah 62:1).

Happy Jerusalem Day.


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