Monday, May 11, 2009

UP TO JERUSALEM


Up to Jerusalem - “L’shana ha’ba-ah b’Yerushalayim[1]

“Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.” Ezra 1:3




Driving East we passed old olive trees and new cotton fields, climbing 1400 feet into the Judean Hills, from the “new” city of Tel Aviv, backward in time thousands of years to Jerusalem. Ascending the road marched by Maccabees, Romans, Crusaders, Arabs and British, we passed Latrun fortress and the damaged hulks of “armored” vehicles (seen here) destroyed during the ’48 War of Israeli Independence, now sporting a new coat of paint and arranged in a monument to those brave Israeli's who fought and perished trying to save the Jews trapped in the Old City. Inspiration to face overwhelming odds and never give up, when it means preserving life and freedoms.


This road was critical to the survival of the new Jewish nation and the scene of intense fighting as Arab armies fired down from both sides of the high hills flanking the roadway. After the Arabs successfully closed this vital link to the Jews besieged in Jerusalem, the Israeli’s under the command of American Micky Marcus [3] (pictured here) built the famous “Burma Road” at night, around the blockade, bringing relief to Jerusalem on June 9th - just days before the UN negotiated cease-fire. But for the convoys making it through, the Jews remaining in Jerusalem would have starved or surrendered.



“New” Jerusalem

As we reach the zenith of our climb up to Jerusalem, the ancient terraced Judean hills are replaced by bastions of Jewish housing in cream and rose “Jerusalem Stone.” During the miraculous Six Day War, Israel not only held the Lebanese on the Northern Border, but liberated the Old City, pushed the Jordanian armies back to the Eastern bank of the River Jordan, the Syrian Army off the Golan Heights above the Sea of Galilee, the Egyptians over the Suez Canal, and, thereby creating the “Occupied Territories” of the West Bank, Golan Heights and Sinai. So as to firmly establish its historical and future claim to the Holy City of Jerusalem, Israel “reunified” or annexed vast tracts of land surrounding the city, thereby creating a modern or “new” Jerusalem totaling 123,000 dunams (approximately 31,000 acres.) In the nearly forty years since, Jews have made aliya from around the world building fortress-like homes, apartments, condos and office buildings on the crowns of all the surrounding hills, wrapping a security belt, or stitching a “seam,” around the new city. Today, this new, impregnable Jerusalem is the largest city in both geography and population with 730,000 inhabitants (10% of total population.)

The governor doesn't arrive until tomorrow and so we spent our afternoon walking along the parapets of the Old City of Jerusalem and then down to the Western Wall as the sun was setting. Depicted below are some of the photos I took of the Old City of Jerusalem today. In the evening we went to the best falafel shop in all of Jerusalem "Doron's" and enjoyed he wonder flavors of deep-fried mixture of chopped-up chick-peas, salad and dressing stuffed in pita bread. All is well with the world and we look forward to a very busy second day.
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[1] “Next year in Jerusalem”
[2] Joshua 10: 12-14.
[3] In one of the great stories that cemented the American-Israeli partnership, West Point graduate and WWII veteran Michael Stone moved to Israel to offer his services, changed his name to Mickey Marcus. Recognizing his talent and leadership, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion appointed him to be the first “Israeli General” since Judas Macabee fifteen centuries earlier.


1 comment:

hollyonthehill said...

Thanks for keeping us updated. Going to Israel in on my "bucket list" - love the descriptions and the pictures. Keep it up!