Netanyahu at Merkaz HaRav Jerusalem Day Celebration
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu attended the annual Jerusalem Day celebration at the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva in Kiryat Moshe, Jerusalem. In his speech, which was accompanied by applause whenever he talked about Jerusalem, Netanyahu stressed the importance of Jerusalem and the unbroken connection of the Jewish people to the city, quoting the verse from Isaiah 62: "For Zion's sake I will not be silent and for the sake of Jerusalem I will not be still, until her righteousness emerges as a shining light and her salvation burns like a torch."
His warmly-received speech was silghtly marred when he said, "You wish to strengthen me, but there is really no need. I am very strong... Perhaps I can strengthen you."
To the Yeshiva head, Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, who encouraged him to be strong in facing the pressure of other nations and be strengthened by the support he sees at the yeshiva, the PM answered: "I am grateful for your support and your desire to strengthen me, but it is not necessary. We come from the same roots. My grandfather was a close friend of Rabbi Kook, for whom the yeshiva is named. After all, our past is what molds our future. Let us strengthen one another."
The Prime Minister continued: "The battle for Jerusalem is a battle for truth. With us is someone who was with me this evening and asked to come here with me, Professor Alan Dershowitz, who fights for our truth, our way of life, and is himself a yeshiva graduate." After the ensuing applause, the PM continued:
"There can be no justice without truth and if there is a perversion of justice vis a vis our city and nation, it means the truth has been perverted, because the truth is that Jerusalem is our city and we never compromised on that," he said, "not after the destruction of the First Holy Temple, nor after the destruction of the Second. We were a majority in the city until the 9th century and we returned 2000 years later and witnessed the city's destruction once again.
There is no other nation that feels this deeply about a city. Yet there is no other nation that has allowed such complete freedom of worship to other religions in this city. We will continue to build Jerusalem, a city that is full of life."
The packed audience, including hundreds on the street outside the yeshiva who watched the event on a large screen, burst into applause and song.
Since the first year of Jerusalem's liberation and reunification 43 years ago, the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva holds a major event on the eve of Jerusalem Day. The Chief Rabbis, other prominent rabbis, Mayor, Ministers, MK's and other public figures attend the evening. At the end of the speeches and song, the entire yeshiva sings and dances its way to the Western Wall in the middle of the night.
There is no other nation that feels this deeply about a city.
The Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Rav Sheer Yashuv Cohen, described the first minutes at the Western Wall in 1967 when a jeep carrying his father, the Nazir Hayerushalmi (ascetic Rabbi) and Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook zt"l rushed to the wall and Rabbi Goren zt"l blew the shofar there for the first time. Former MK Chanan Porat, who was in the paratroop corps and took part in the liberation of Jerusalem, told how religious and non religious soldiers shouted the "Shma Yisrael" (Hear O Israel) prayer at the wall..
The Speaker of the Knesset, MK Ruby Rivlin spoke at the start of the event, saying "Over the last year, Jerusalem has lost many supporters. It worries me that Jerusalem Day is becoming a holiday for the knitted skullcap crowd alone. Today, some Zionist political parties who spoke of united Jerusalem until a short while ago, are now seeing the city as a problem and obstacle to our continued existence here. The same politicians who voted laws protecting Jerusalem into effect are now looking for loopholes in those same laws that will allow them to raise their hand against Jerusalem.
"Today, Jerusalem doesn't know who is on her side and who is against her, who are her builders and who are her looters, who is truly faithful to her and who is just using her for his own ends."
"Today it is clear that a unified Jerusalem under Jewish sovereignty is not a given. We have reached the stage where the world claims that we have stolen the city and wants us to turn the clock back 43 years. It is clearer than ever that a people whose loyalty is fickle will find that its existence is limited, G-d forbid. Zionism without Zion, without Jerusalem, is an empty shell. Our ability to withstand attacks on Jerusalem depends a great deal on our resolve and patience, on our ability to bide our time until the sword that is drawn over the city is removed."