Why Jerusalem Must Never Be DividedBy Shachar @ 7:00 AM May 04, 2012
Dateline Jerusalem — The last time I visited Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem was several years ago for a ceremony honoring Israeli paratroopers who had just finished a grueling 90K two-day run in full gear carrying heavy equipment. The location was significant for two reasons. It was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Six-Day War in 1967 and because a small brigade of paratroopers – the majority were "grunts," of insignificant rank, whose commanders were first to be slain – managed against all odds to conquer the Ammunition Hill stronghold from the Jordanian Bedouin Army, enabling Israel to liberate the divided city of Jerusalem.
Now on the 45th anniversary of the re-unification of the City of Jerusalem, I visited Ammunition Hill a second time. Situated atop one of the highest elevations in Jerusalem, the strategic nature of its location most evident, Ammunition Hill is considered the "Symbol of the Six Day War." Against the backdrop of stone trenches snaking their way to the top of the hill – cement bunkers dotting the landscape – are 182 olive trees, one for each of the 182 Israeli paratroopers killed in the deadly battle, one-quarter of the troops sent there without maps or training for the terrain.
Now there are tours of the area, a museum with old photographs, abandoned weapons and equipment, and newsreel footage of various aspects of the war. We sat inside a small amphitheater watching a movie about the Six-Day War, which would pause every so often to allow us to focus on a metal relief model of the entire city in the center of the room. Red and blue colored lights flashed on significant locations on the model, red for Jordan and blue for Israel. As the battle progressed and battle lines changed, we were able to see just how Israel was able to liberate Jerusalem. It was as though we were living vicariously through the soldiers, just as we were walking in the footsteps of the paratroopers as we toured Ammunition Hill.
Our guide was a young girl in her early 20s. She told us interesting anecdotes about the division of the City of Jerusalem and the Six-Day War in which one-third of all the Israeli soldiers fighting for the liberation and re-unification of Jerusalem lost their lives. The very day Israel gained its independence in 1948, the surrounding Arab countries of Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon declared war against Israel, chanting "kill the Jews," a familiar chant of the Palestinians today. The Arabs lost in their attempt to annihilate the Jewish state. As part of the cease fire, Moshe Dayan of Israel and a Jordanian general arbitrarily divided the city in half. It was so arbitrary that some peoples' houses were divided in half.
The U.N. established a buffer zone at the arbitrary border. They had duties such as running after children's balls that accidentally bounced into the other half of the city. They also retrieved the false teeth of a nun when she leaned over a wall and her dentures fell onto the other side. When it came to monitoring the cease fire, the U.N. was useless. They fled when the Jordanians decided to overtake the entire city. Therefore, Israel cannot trust others to protect its citizens.
Jerusalem is, and always has been, an undivided city except during the 19-year Jordanian control of the city. Only under Israeli control have all religions been able to worship as they please at their holy sites, whether they be Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or Druze. Therefore it is important that Jerusalem never be divided again. After lunch, the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem said that there is no such thing as North, South, West or East Jerusalem. Jerusalem has been and will be an undivided city.
As Rabbi Anthony Manning said in his lecture after our morning tour, the navel is the source of nourishment for an unborn child. The Land of Israel is the center of the Jewish world. Jerusalem is the navel of the Land of Israel, the center of our lives and the source of our spirituality.
Happy 45th anniversary of the liberation and re-unification of Jerusalem.