It is Possible to be Moved by the Flag of Zion Waving
There are those who find it difficult to connect to the joy of Jerusalem Day, because they see no difference between the War of Independence, after which Jerusalem was divided into two parts, and the Six Day War, after which the two parts of the city were not really united. It is not just young people who did not personally experience the miracle of the liberation of Jerusalem. For many of them, the two wars are almost the same.
Even in the eyes of the adults among us, Israel’s wars today are seen as the many stages of an open-ended war of independence. There were 19 years in which the people of Israel could not reach Beit-El and Hebron, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. Since then, 52 years have passed, and the people of Israel can reach these places, but do not always bother to do so.
There are also those who do not celebrate this day, because they do not know how. A deep national feeling is still ingrained in them: They are among the many – most of the Jews in the State of Israel – who observe the rituals of brit milah, Passover seders, and Yom Kippur fasts. They live the dream of the return to Zion and are connected to the Wall and Jerusalem, despite a leftist mainstream that refers to the liberation of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria with ambivalence, if not worse.
But aside from observing the “mitzvah” of outdoor barbecues, we have not yet found an appropriate way to observe even Independence Day. Perhaps it is a good thing that the smells of the mangalim (barbecue grills) have not yet taken over Jerusalem Day as well.
The religious-Zionist public views Jerusalem Day as a true holiday, rejoicing in flag waving and parades, and hoping that other audiences will join in. The enthusiastic grasp of these values by the religious part of the public creates the impression that these ideals are their monopoly. But no one appointed religious Zionists as God’s PR firm.
The process of returning to Zion occurs on a daily basis in Israel. But sometimes the light intensifies so much that people are dazzled, and do not see that the news headlines are the prophecies of the Bible being fulfilled. It is possible to be thankful for miracles and wonders, to be moved by the sight of the flag of Zion waving in the wind and to believe that the flag of Jerusalem will still be proudly carried here.
Emuna Elon is a writer. Her essay is based on a conversation she had with the Institute’s Yoav Friedman.
Emuna Elon, Hartman Institute Fellow Micah Goodman , historian and writer Muki Tzur , historian and writer, will participate in an evening of conversation and song about Jerusalem Day on June 2, 2019, at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Get full information about the event (in Hebrew) here and register to attend on the Hartman website .