Celebrate 54 Years of the Reunification of Jerusalem!
Tricia Miller, Ph.D. and Dexter Van Zile
Dear Christian Leader,
Israel is celebrating this week because Monday, May 10th, is Jerusalem Day, or Yom Yerushalayim in Hebrew. This year marks the 54th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem after Israeli forces gained control of the Temple Mount and eastern parts of the city during the Six Day War of 1967. Israeli authority over a unified Jerusalem brought an end to 19 years of a divided city in the aftermath of Israel's War of Independence in 1948.
In the summer of 1967, the Jewish State was, once again, forced to defend itself against a combined offensive by the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon - launched in another attempt to wipe Israel off the map. In the course of the war, the Israeli, or western, part of Jerusalem came under fire from Jordan, who had occupied eastern parts of the city since 1948. During the battle for Jerusalem, Israeli forces had the unexpected opportunity to liberate parts of the city controlled by Jordan, including the Temple Mount. As a result, Israel's capital was unified under Israeli authority. According to the biblical calendar, the reunification of Jerusalem occurred on the 28th day of the month of Iyar. In 1967, this date corresponded to June 7th on the Gregorian calendar, and this year it is May 10th.
The Six Day War was preceded by years of attacks on Israeli civilians by Arabs, inflammatory rhetoric on the part of Arab leaders, and the mobilization of Arab forces on Israel's borders.
In 1965, Arab terrorists conducted 35 violent attacks against Israel. In 1966, the number increased to 41, and in the first four months of 1967, 37 attacks were launched. During the same time period, Syria routinely used the Golan Heights to launch missiles on Israeli farms in the valley below.
While these assaults on Israeli civilians were being carried out, Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser made regular speeches threatening outright war against Israel. On May 27, 1967, he said, "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight." The next day he added, "We will not accept any...coexistence with Israel...Today the issue is not the establishment of peace between the Arab states and Israel....The war with Israel is in effect since 1948."
Indeed, Arab forces were mobilized on Israel's borders in the spring of 1967. By May 15th, Egyptian troops had moved into the Sinai and were massed near the Israeli border in the south. And by May 18th, Syrian troops were prepared for battle along the Golan Heights to the east.
On May 30th, King Hussein of Jordan signed a defense pact with Egypt. Immediately following the agreement, Egypt's Nasser announced, "The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel...to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not declarations."
As Nasser said, the four nations surrounding Israel were backed up by the rest of the Arab nations in their intent to destroy the Jewish State. President Abdur Rahman Aref of Iraq declared, "The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear -- to wipe Israel off the map." Iraq backed up these words with action by joining the military alliance with Egypt, Jordan and Syria on June 4th.
By the time the war began on June 5th, the Jewish State faced combined forces of over 465,000 troops, over 2,800 tanks, and 800 aircraft. In response to the very real threat of annihilation due to the sheer numbers arrayed against them, Israel exercised its only potential advantage and initiated surprise, preemptive actions.
On June 5th, Israeli forces launched an early-morning attack against the Egyptian air force and by the end of the day, had completely neutralized the Egyptian and Jordanian air forces, and destroyed half of Syria's planes. Before the war was over, Israel had gained control over Gaza and the Sinai (which had been occupied by Egypt), Judea, Samaria, and the eastern part of Jerusalem (which had been occupied by Jordan) and the Golan Heights (which had been used by Syria to fire on Israeli fishermen on the Sea of Galilee and Israeli farmers in the Hula Valley below).
When its war of self-defense began, Israel had no intention of fighting Jordan over the Temple Mount. However, when western Jerusalem came under Jordanian fire, Israel needed to defend the city. In the course of the battle, Israeli forces suddenly had the opportunity to take control of the Old City, including the Temple Mount. They were successful, and as a result, Israel's capital was unified. This victory marked the end of 19 years of Jerusalem being divided after Israel's War of Independence - a war that was also initiated by Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq for the purpose of destroying the newborn Jewish state.
The reunification of the city of Jerusalem on June 7, 1967 is cause for great rejoicing for Israelis and for all those who care about Israel and the Jewish people. As the holiday is celebrated this week in Israel, may all those who support Israel celebrate as well!
In Case You Missed It!
Last Thursday, the Partnership was privileged to host a webinar featuring Rev. Malcolm Hedding, who spoke on the subject of Israel and apartheid. As a former South African pastor who actively opposed apartheid, and as someone who has lived and worked in the Jewish State for many years, there is no one more qualified to expose the truth concerning Israel and apartheid.
If you missed the webinar, or would like to listen again or share it with others, the recording is available here.
Thank you for your continued involvement in the Christian Leadership Network of CAMERA's Partnership and for your commitment to stand in solidarity with the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
With your help and support, we will continue to expand our efforts to:
Tell the truth about Israel
Combat anti-Zionism in the Church
Raise awareness about Christian persecution in the Middle East
Promote cooperation between Christians and Jews
In order to equip us for this work, would you please consider giving a generous donation to the work of CAMERA's Partnership of Christians and Jews?