Damascus Gate, Jerusalem
Damascus Gate, JerusalemIsrael news photo

Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin, a scion of the famed Land of Israel-building Rivlin family, in Independence Day speech: “We will not apologize for having liberated Hevron or building Jerusalem.”

Rivlin’s speech, to be delivered at the Independence Day kick-off celebrations at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem on Monday night, concentrates on Jerusalem – which the United States government is unyieldingly pressuring Israel to stop developing and give half away to a foreign entity.

Speaking earlier at the Memorial Day ceremony at the Mt. of Olives, Rivlin said, “See how this city has turned from being desolate and destroyed into a dynamic city of life – in the merit of the self-sacrifice, education and heroism of the fallen boys with which you, the bereaved families, imbued them.”

“We hereby declare for all to hear: This city will have its defenders! Even if there are those amongst us who have become weak, and who are replacing Zion with Uganda and wish to divide King David’s City – we will not sit by quietly when people come to try to divide this city.”

“It is no coincidence that every additional Jewish home in the City of David, the Old City and elsewhere in Jerusalem, shakes the world to its foundations…. The blood of the Hadassah nurses [murdered by an Arab mob in Jerusalem in 1948] cries out from the mountains of Jerusalem. Who dares to divide the ever-united city!? It is the legacy of the fallen that from this mountain we will again take this oath: ‘If I forget thee, o Jerusalem, let my right hand wither.’”

Excerpts from his scheduled Independence Day speech:

“At this time, when a sword is raised over Jerusalem, many of us respond to this threat with nothing more than a yawn. [Many feel that] Jerusalem is for ‘others’ – for hareidim, for Arabs, for the poor, for the religious, for the unenlightened, fanatic Jerusalemites in the hills. For many, Jerusalem is on the other side of the wall, and there are even those who wish to depict it as irrelevant and its residents as ‘the other.’ And why is this? Because that will make it easier to sell the idea to Israelis that Jerusalem is an obstacle to peace, that it is a ‘problem.’ Because if Jerusalem is still relevant, then of course it will be much harder to give up on it.”

Rivlin is a descendant of Rabbi Hillel Rivlin of Shklov (1758-1838), author of Kol HaTor and a close disciple of the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Rivlin and a group of fellow pupils are credited with having revitalized the Ashkenazi community in the Land of Israel when they left Europe in the early 1800’s and made Aliyah. Another descendant of Rabbi Hillel, Yosef-Yoshe Rivlin, was one of the pioneering leaders of the departure from within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem and the founding of the Nahalat Shivah quarter.

Rivlin continues: “Jerusalem appears to be regressing. There are separate neighborhoods, separate public transportation, separate shopping centers; separation between hareidim and secular, and between Jews and Arabs. Ghettos that are separated by walls of estrangement and concrete… This is far from the vision of a ‘reunited’ Jerusalem  [Psalms 122,3], and it is liable to lead, in the end, to the tearing apart of Jerusalem and its division in a diplomatic arrangement… The mentality of concrete walls, of closing ourselves up in homogeneous neighborhoods, of not talking with the ‘other’ – it is this that enables voices to call for the division of Jerusalem.”

“Our ability to rebuff the attack on Jerusalem depends, as always, not on prophets and not on diplomats. It depends on whether the Zion of 2010 can inspire practical, walls-bursting Zionism – or whether it will produce only Exile-like and apologetic stuttering? Will we meet the challenges that face us as partners – or as antagonists?”

Even those who consider themselves non-Zionist can be partners in the construction of a strong Jerusalem, Rivlin feels. “But let there be no mistake: There will be no partnership with those who demand that we blur the Zionist character of the country. We will not apologize – not for conquering Katamon [a now-Jewish neighborhood in western Jerusalem] or Jaffa or Tzfat, nor for liberating Hevron, and not for building Jerusalem our capital.”

The speech concludes on a festive note: “Jerusalem deserves to dwell without walls shading its grandeur. All Israelis deserve to dwell without walls suffocating our dreams. Our dreams will become reality. Happy Independence Day, Jerusalem! Happy Independence Day, Israel!”