Initiative to Make Jerusalem Day a National Holiday
Jerusalem Day begins Tuesday night - but not everyone is able to celebrate freely.
Tuesday morning, MK Yoni Chetboun (Jewish Home/Bayit Yehudi) proposed a draft to change the status quo, making Jerusalem Day a national holiday and enabling every Zionist to celebrate Israel's liberation of the Holy City.
Chetboun's initiative is in partnership with nationalist group Im Tirzu, and has gained support from MKs Moti Yogev (Jewish Home), Nissim Ze'ev (Shas), and Moshe Feiglin (Likud).
"It cannot be that Jerusalem Day has become a 'national holiday' for select sectors of society only," Chetboun stated. "This is a very significant event in the history of the Jewish people and Israel and the day must not be allowed to become sectoral."
Jerusalem Day is often celebrated by secular and religious Zionist Jews in the Jerusalem area, but almost never in the hareidi sector; the day is ignored completely - or worse - in the Arab community.
Chetboun believes that Jerusalem Day is as significant as Yom Ha'atzmaut (Independence Day), Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Memorial Day. Under the proposal, the commemoration of Jerusalem's reunification would thus become an official holiday from work and school - much like Independence Day is now.
"Jerusalem is a place of hope for generations of Jews and the object of our longing for thousands of years," Chetboun stated. "This important amendment is designed to restore Jerusalem to the entire nation, and to send a clear message: Jerusalem is ours, it belongs to all of us."
Chetboun emphasized that the move could have political ramifications as well, making clear that Jerusalem should not be redivided into a joint capital for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
"Next year, the entire Jewish people will celebrate Jerusalem Day [together]," he declared. "We believe that the Ministerial Committee for Legislation will approve the initiative."