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The Tisha b’Av eve Walk: Turn Jerusalem into a Metropolis

Gershon Elinson

For the 27th time, hundreds of people from all parts of the Land walked around the walls of Jerusalem on the eve of Tisha b’Av, calling for the strengthening of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem and expanding it into a metropolis.

Hundreds of people from all parts of the Land took part, this year as well, as in every year for the past 26 years, in the Tisha b’Av eve walk around the walls of Jerusalem, and this time, the walk took place with the call for establishing Jerusalem as a metropolis and for the Greater Jerusalem initiative, which the Sovereignty Movement has been promoting in recent weeks.

The walk began immediately after a mass reading of the Scroll of Lamentations in Gan Ha’atzma’ut, in the center of Jerusalem, and from there, passed through the gates of Jerusalem in the traditional route from the ancient Jewish past, recently renewed.

The mass of participants walked behind a huge sign, on which was written the words of Rabbi Yohanan, “The future of Jerusalem is to become a metropolis for all countries”. This, as an ancient expression of the longing to expand the municipal borders of Jerusalem on all sides and include within it Gush Etzion, Giv’at Ze’ev, Ma’ale Adumim and Mevaserret Tzion and more.

Other organizations joined the event initiated by the Sovereignty Movement, among them the Bitahonistim (The Security Experts), Matot Arim, the YESHA Council, Ariel Movement, Professors for a Strong Israel, Im Tirzu (If You Will), Kommiut, Keren Nahalt Atzma’ut, Keren LeAdmot Yisrael,  and Women for the Temple.

Members of Knesset from all Zionist factions were invited, members of the coalition as well as of the opposition, as an expression of the consensus around the centrality and importance of Jerusalem to the People of Israel. The event was opened by co-chairwomen of the Sovereignty Movement, Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar, who emphasized the obligation to focus our public and political efforts on preserving the unity of Jerusalem, especially in this era, when there are those who wish to undermine Jerusalem’s Israeli sovereignty at home, and those who threaten Israel with a war for Jerusalem from abroad.

Member of Knesset Yomtov Kalfon, of Yamina, noted in his remarks, his first Tisha b’Av in Israel, the same Tisha b’Av that Gush Katif became an area forbidden for Israelis to enter. This difficult event in the State of Israel’s history symbolizes the essence of Tisha b’Av as a day of national mourning that touches on our lives today and not only as a religious day of mourning regarding events of the distant past, said Member of Knesset Kalfon, stating that the lesson from the trauma of Gush Katif is that we need to increase the love for the Land of Israel in more and more parts of the Israeli public, along with the obligation to bring more and more Jews from the diaspora to Israel so that together, the People of Israel will rebuild Jerusalem and the entire Land of Israel.

In her remarks, Member of Knesset Orit Struk of “Religious Zionism”, cautioned against the danger of billboard campaign that has been happening lately throughout the entire Land, that includes billboard signs with the motto “Jews and Arabs share a fate and share in the government”, a campaign which, in Struk’s words, have “already settled in the government”, and signify the threat of dividing Jerusalem, both in the geographic aspect and that of identity of the city as the capital of the Jewish State. “This campaign seeks to divide the state and turn it into a bi-national state”, she said, calling on the public not to take this campaign lightly, to wake up and act not only to promote Greater Jerusalem, but also to struggle against those who seek to change the face of Jerusalem and  Israel as a whole.

Deputy Mayor of the City of  Jerusalem Aryeh King also spoke, beginning with words of gratitude to the participants of the walk because their presence, with Israeli flags near the Lions Gate strengthens the Jews who are residents of the neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city. He also thanked the Jerusalem Police, who proved that when there is a will there is a way, and he also thanked Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar for their persistence and dedication in holding the walk for this, the 27th year.

He also mentioned the Turkish sign that even last year, still stood on the stone wall, but under the leadership of the present mayor the sign was removed, another proof that things are possible when the will exists to do them. King stated the masses who were gathered there, that everyone can promote the matter of the Temple no matter his position or location, even if he is not an elected official.

Member of Jerusalem Council Yohanan Yosef, one of the people who are fighting for the re-Judaization of the Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood, spoke of his conversations with Muslims, in which he mentions that even in the Qur’an, it is stated that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews, a statement that our diplomats forget to say, as well as the fact that the People of Israel’s deed for the Land of Israel is the Bible, upon which even the president of the U.S. swears and there is no dispute about its validity in any of the Western countries. “The holiest place to the Jewish People is not the Western Wall, but the Temple Mount, and we will return to it”, Yosef declared.

Atty. Nili Nahouri, director of Israel for Ever, called for an end to crying and to work on practical things. Crying is characteristic of the diaspora, she said, and she mentioned the passage “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept”. Crying is for there and not for here, she said, noting the phases of redemption that have been happening to the People of Israel in the past decades, phases when the People of Israel must stop weeping and begin engaging in deeds and building. “Our enemies draw their strength our weakness and from our lack of resolve to declare that we are in charge here”, she said, harshly criticizing how Israel’s enemies have been included as equal members of Israel’s government. “We have to understand that we are not the successors of the ten spies – we are the successors of Joshua and Caleb, who said “Let us go up, for we shall surely inherit it”, she said, to the audience’s applause, emphasizing the importance of the walk, where Israel’s flags were carried to every place in Jerusalem, as an act of sovereignty in our Land and our capital.

Brig. Gen. (res.) Amir Avivi began his remarks by noting his excitement in light of the masses that walked around Jerusalem and as a 15th generation Jerusalemite, he was very moved to see the masses calling for sovereignty in Jerusalem and the entire Land of Israel, a call that is raised by the organization that he established, which began its activities only six months ago, and already has more than two thousand officers and security people calling for sovereignty, and the number of officers joining the movement keeps increasing. “There is no national security without Judaism, there is no national security without sovereignty, he declared, stating that Judea and Samaria must be prepared to absorb a million Jewish immigrants who will come to the Land of Israel in the future.

Rabbanit Rivka Shimon, of Women for the Temple expressed her pride in representing the women who were not part of the sin of the spies and she quoted the words of the poet Uri Tzvi Greenberg, that whoever rules the Mount, rules the Land and she noted the changes that have occurred in the past decade in how the Israeli public relates to the Temple Mount. “The police are with us. We can pray at the Temple Mount and we feel that the People of Israel are with us”, she said, calling on the entire public to join those who ascend the Temple Mount, thereby strengthening the heart of Jerusalem and strengthening the whole of Jerusalem.

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