What makes a place holy? And who gets to decide? Such abstract questions become concrete and emotional when we talk about Jerusalem.
After 50-something years, and to the astonishment of our children and grandchildren, at the end of June my husband and I packed up our things and left Jerusalem, moving halfway across the country to settle in Zichron Yaakov, a quaint, hilltop village overlooking the sea.
Once again, our city has been taken over by jealousy. Once again, it has been reduced to little more than a humiliated pawn in the hands of politicians who, in their attempts to own this city, are willing, quite literally, to let her die.
Fifty years. More than half of them, many more, have been years of acrimony. Was the Six-Day War just a great triumph—or a triumph whose consequence is grave devastation? Was it worth it? Pick the facts that support your viewpoint: The 1967 war resulted in overconfidence that brought about the 1973 war; the 1967 war convinced some Arab leaders that Israel was no longer weak and that removing it by force was not a realistic option; the war enabled Jews to settle the more important regions of its ancient homeland; the war put Israel in charge of territory occupied by Palestinians.
The “miraculous” victory of 1967 returned major holy places in Jerusalem and the West Bank to Jewish control, including the Temple Mount in the Old City (known as Haram al-Sharif to Muslims), the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem. This unexpected bounty, like other seemingly wondrous developments, actually fueled intense friction between Jews and Muslims. Sadly, the miracle of Israeli control of the holy places over 50 years has reduced the possibility of a peaceful solution to the wider conflict.