Parade On!!!!

Ben Packer,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Ben Packer
Originally from Petersburg, Virginia, Ben Packer moved to Israel in 1999, where he served in the IDF's Givati Brigade in the Gaza Strip. Ben served as a Rabbi on campus at Univ. of North Carolina and at Duke Univ. Ben now serves as Director of the Jerusalem Heritage House (www.heritagehouse.org.il) and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives (www.youngjewishconservatives.org). He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

I'm not the type for parading. Just not my thing. I'm also not so enthusiastic philosophically about the idea that there is only one day a year that Jews can walk proudly in large numbers through Shaar Shechem (Damscus Gate) into the Old City of Jerusalem. The reality for many of us who use the gate on a regular basis is that the safety of Jewish residents is unfortunately not too important (putting it mildly) to the local authorities. The police in the area of the Old City are a completely abysmal failure in every regard and those in local leadership po‎sitions (with the strong exception of Arieh King) couldn't seem to care less. 

Despite these personal reservations about parading in general, the recent assault on the route of the parade by a litany of less-than-stellar individuals ("losers") on the Times of Israel site and elsewhere has caused me to unequivocally endorse and encourage one and all to participate in the parade this year. Of course, the route should ideally be returned to Lion's Gate, which is much more historically accurate and more fitting with the signifcance of the date. This should certainly be a goal for next year's parade. 

Of those that condemned the audacity of Jews to march through the approved gate was a declared representative of Bnei Akiva. How on earth is this guy still associated with Bnei Akiva after writing such nonsense? From a purely practical point of view, did this writer actually think any Bnei Akiva youth would care about his bizarre po‎sition or be impressed by it? I think its safe to assume that ZERO people will be basing their decision to participate in the parade on his over-the-top self-righteously pompous opinion. It actually reminded me of a similar call from an employee of a local sub-par yeshiva to avoid Hevron on Parshas Chayai Sarah in order not to bother and disrupt the local terrorists and their supporters. Talk about uninspiring leadership. 

Additionally, after the local Arab community has consitently engaged and supported terrorist activities, specifically in the viscinity of Shaar Shechem, these people are bothered by chanting and the waving of flags by some of the finest and most patriotic youth in this country. At least tens of thousands of people will descend on the area in a very short period of time and damage to property can confidently be estimated to amount to something like tens of dollars. No wonder there is so much outrage. And how many arab bystanders will be attacked and wounded? Probably none.  (Baruch Hashem, Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein has been thoughtful and generous enough to remind everyone that the law is still in place during the parade. Of course he doesn't seem to care about lack of law every other day of the year in the area.)  

Its safe to say that the majority of the marchers have had close friends and relatives run over by cars, stabbed, killed in Gaza, stoned repeatedly, burned, and otherwise violently harrassed by exactly those folks that believe that the Jewish People have no right to even be in Jerusalem at all and denied us this very right before this exact day 48 years ago. I think a little chanting and flag waving is letting them off pretty easy. 

Happy Jerusalem Day,

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem