Without Jerusalem, There is No Tel Aviv
Without Jerusalem, There is No Tel Aviv

Across the entire Hebrew calendar, Yom Yerushalayim exists as an important litmus test of the moral fiber of Israeli society. Within the day is the elemental question as to whether the entire Zionist Project rests on an ethical foundation, or whether Zionism is a colonial imperialistic project.

David Ben Gurion was not in any doubt to this question, understanding that Jerusalem was the icon of Zionism, and despite heavy international pressure, sought to make a speech there straight after the War of Independence, where he unilaterally declared in opposition to the UN, that he was moving all governmental institutions to Jerusalem, and declaring forthwith that Jerusalem was the capital of the Jewish State.

“We shall not give up any part of Jerusalem willingly,” Ben Gurion said, “Just as our faith has not wavered through millennia. It holds all our national significance and hopes… to the site to which we will ultimately return…The nation that has kept faith for over 2,500 years to the covenant that was made to those who were first exiled by the rivers of Babylon – not to forget Jerusalem. The nation shall never accept being separated from Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall never accept a foreign ruler, especially after its sons and daughters have been afforded the opportunity to redeem Jerusalem from destruction and annihilation.”

Nowadays, we have Isaac Herzog standing in place of Ben Gurion at the head of the Labor Party. The trouble is that he views Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem as a historical aberration, where ultimately "East Jerusalem" must be relinquished as the capital of a Palestinian State. It would seem that Mr Herzog places little value on icons like these, which is strange given that Jerusalem is the most elevated idea in of the Zionist Project or the Jewish People. Jerusalem has occupied the centre of our national and individual consciousness, most poignantly at the happiest point in a wedding when we smash a glass, we connect and commit ourselves to a place and an idea; that it is from Jerusalem that our connection to this land derives and flows from.

Post-Zionist Israel no longer holds to such an ideal. In their consensus, they would relinquish ‘historical Jerusalem’ – (the Mount of Olives, the City of David, the Old City, the Temple Mount, as well as Shuafat and the Kalandiya refugee camp.) to the sovereignty of a Palestinian State. 

Such a post-Zionist Israel would confirm its own status as a colonialist enterprise and cruel oppressor, a vision promoted by activists from Peace Now, Ir Amim and the Abraham Fund, who oppose Jewish construction in Jerusalem and work to its dismemberment. It is they, when they decry a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount or the City of David, who confirm their own immorality and hypocrisy. For how can they justify their own existence with as enlightened bon-vivants and pensants in Ramat Aviv if they see themselves as conquerors and oppressors in Jerusalem? One who sees Jewish Sovereignty in Jerusalem as an affront to basic morality can hardly complain while living on top of the ruins of Sheikh Munis.

Notwithstanding Peace Now’s claims, it is well understood that it is Zionism that provides the foundation to our unbreakable tie between the Nation and the Land. Yet our enemies understand that it is precisely our presence in Jerusalem which provides the source of our strength and resolve. Our enemies also know that the moment that Israeli society disconnects from the concept of Jerusalem, then the entire Zionist project will collapse and lose all moral rectitude. The Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon put it simply, “When the Jews leave Jerusalem, the Zionist project will start to falter, and it will expire naturally”

Our nation must decide, is the Zionist dream a moral imperative or not. Yitzhak Rabin, of blessed memory, understood this: "In Israel, there are no arguments with respect to one subject, the territorial integrity of Jerusalem and its continued status as the capital of the State of Israel. There are no two Jerusalems, but one. From our standpoint, Jerusalem is not up for compromise, for there cannot be peace without Jerusalem."

Ehud Olmert failed to understand this, “It pains me to suggest the relinquishing of sovereignty of the Temple Mount, but there is no other way.” 

All of the party leaders must understand that there is a spiritual price to be paid for practical and pragmatic decisions that can endanger the foundations upon which the Zionist ethos is based. One who gives up on Jerusalem’ gives up on Tel Aviv too, and one who forgets Jerusalem will ultimately be expelled from Tel Aviv as well.