If I Forget Thee, East Jerusalem

Words, and especially names, have meaning.

Moshe Phillips

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"My heart is in the east...." - Rabbi Yehuda Halevi (1075-1141)

Reading the term "East Jerusalem" in two different publications by two different authors on the same day caused
What is now called "East Jerusalem" is what the Bible means when it refers to Jerusalem.
this writer pause. After all, "East Jerusalem" does not actually exist. At least not yet. After all, what is now called "East Jerusalem" is what the Bible means when it refers to Jerusalem.

Writing in The Bulletin, a daily newspaper in Philadelphia, David Bedein surprisingly used the term "East Jerusalem" in an August 28, 2008, news article on US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's negative remarks regarding housing starts in Jewish neighborhoods ("Jewish settlements").

More alarming was Gershom Gorenberg's article in the August/September 2008 issue of Hadassah Magazine, in which he used the term "East Jerusalem" five times. Once he even used the unabashed propaganda term "Arab East Jerusalem". It is worth noting that Hadassah Hospital's Mount Scopus facility and the adjoining Hebrew University are in what is claimed by the Arabs as "East Jerusalem". Gorenberg is a monthly columnist for Hadassah Magazine and he has no place in the house publication of the largest Zionist membership organization in the world.

Words, and especially names, have meaning. Especially in the Middle East. Now, Bedein probably made a careless error. Gorenberg obviously chose to use the words of Israel's enemies.

So, just what is "East Jerusalem" and why is adding the word "East" to describe part of Judaism's holiest city and Israel's capital of any serious magnitude?

East and West in Israel are not simple geographic terms as they are in the US. Northeast Philadelphia, the Upper East Side in Manhattan and East LA are used to denote neighborhoods and sections of a city. In Israel, where Judea and Samaria have been labeled "the West Bank", things are different. The term "West Bank" was created by Arab propagandists to de-emphasize the area's inherent Jewishness and to disassociate the land from the State of Israel. "East Jerusalem" was similarly invented.

What is "East Jerusalem"?

According to Wikipedia: "East Jerusalem refers to the part of Jerusalem captured by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and subsequently by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. It includes Jerusalem's Old City and some of the holiest sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, such as the Temple Mount, Western Wall, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher."

So, "East Jerusalem" is Jerusalem's Old City and its surrounding neighborhoods. The original and oldest parts of Jerusalem are in this "East Jerusalem".

There has never been in history an independent municipal entity known as "East Jerusalem". (And, for the record, there has never been an independent national entity known as Palestine.) When anti-Israel extremists created the term "East Jerusalem", it was for one reason. They wanted to rip Israel's capital apart in order to defeat Israel. This effort tragically gained full force with the Oslo Accords. This was fully explained in the B'tzedek Online Journal of December 30, 1996, in an editorial titled, "The War Has Just Begun":

"The Oslo Accords are indeed the fulfillment of the PLO 'salami' strategy. That is to say, Israel shall be destroyed not through overt military action of Arab nations, but through the whittling away of Israeli resolve and slow but determined territorial expansion of a Palestinian state. Slice by slice, Israel will be carved away by the knife of terrorism and world opinion, both deftly handled by the Israeli created Palestinian entity."

The very name Jerusalem means "city of peace", "city of completeness" and "city of perfection". This was something that Bible-believing Americans of all faiths in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were taught. See Hitchcock's Bible Names Dictionary (late 1800s) and Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897) for more on the fascinating derivation of Jerusalem. A Jerusalem that is not complete is just not Jerusalem.

American policy on Jerusalem has veered horribly off course. The late Senator Jesse Helms wrote in 1996 that "Israel is the only nation in the world denied the right to choose its own capital. This second-class citizenship among nations must end."

Recent news reports have indicated that this process of dismembering Jerusalem is now being encouraged and directed by Condoleezza Rice. "Aaron Klein, Jerusalem Bureau Chief for WorldNetDaily.com, reveals that multiple
A Jerusalem that is not complete is just not Jerusalem.
reports on Thursday in official Palestinian Authority media outlets insist that... Rice pressed Israel in her visit here earlier this week to sign a document that would divide Jerusalem by the end of the year." (Arutz Sheva, Aug. 29, 2008; updated Sept. 2, 2008)

As the Jewish People begin the Hebrew month of Elul (this year it began on September 1) and usher in the High Holiday season, the Jewish attachment to Jerusalem is decidedly prominent. Every weekday during morning prayer services the ram's horn is sounded and Psalm 27, with its many references to Jerusalem's Holy Temple, is recited.

The main focus of the liturgy of Yom Kippur is the recitation of the description the sacrificial offerings that were made on Yom Kippur when the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem. The most dramatic part of the Yom Kippur prayer services occurs at the close of the day, just as the final service comes to an end. The conclusion of this most sacred day on the Jewish calendar is announced by a single, long clear note sounded on the shofar. The congregation then responds: "Next year in Jerusalem!" After Yom Kippur, the shofar will not be sounded in synagogues again until next Elul.

Until the shofar is sounded next year, all friends of Israel must work to make certain that Jerusalem will remain Israel's undivided capital forever. Hopefully, one day soon the dangerous fiction of "East Jerusalem" will be something that only extremists give voice to.