For the first time, the Knesset and the US Congress held a joint event, marking 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War.
Israel’s Knesset and the US Congress on Wednesday held a joint event in honor of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.
The first-ever event took place simultaneously in Jerusalem and Washington, under the direction of Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, and was broadcast live.
The audience at the US Congress consisted of senators, Members of Congress, diplomats and leaders of the American Jewish community. The event at the Knesset was attended by Members of Knesset, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, leading officials, teens from the Taglit and Masa programs, and others.
The Ankor Choir, conducted by Dafna Ben Yohanan, sang the Israeli national anthem HaTikva in Israel, while the US Army Brass Quintet played the Star Spangled Banner in Congress, as well as ”Jerusalem of Gold.”
Something So Special About Jerusalem
“After thousands of years in exile, the Jewish people are finally back home. Home in the land of their ancestors. Home in the land that so many have died to defend. And home in their city of Jerusalem, the eternal capital never to be divided again,” said Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
”There is something so special about Jerusalem… It`s unlike any other place in the world. Only in Jerusalem do Judaism, Christianity and Islam converge at the roots of their faith. And only in Jerusalem can followers of the three great monotheistic religions worship at some of their most holy sites safely and peacefully. Let`s not take that for granted. It wasn`t always like that,” he said. ”Without Jerusalem, the Israel we know today would simply not exist.”
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein called on President Donald Trump to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would implement congressional legislation passed in 1995. Since then, every sitting US president has signed successive six-month waivers delaying the embassy relocation. Trump recently signed the waiver for the first time.
“Looking around the world, and especially at this region, one thing becomes crystal clear: Only Israeli sovereignty will ensure that the city’s holy sites remain open, free and safe for members of every religion. I, therefore, call upon the administration to follow the lead set by the House and Senate and recognize Jerusalem as the official and unquestioned capital of the state of Israel,” Edelstein said.
Edelstein said that ”since 1967, Jerusalem has again become a spiritual center, where members of all religions may practice their faith freely. Where the sounds of Jewish prayer mingle with the voice of the muezzin and church bells. Where pilgrims come to seek God in synagogues, mosques and churches. This is Jerusalem. Reunified fifty years ago today, never to be re-divided.”
Like a Lightning Bolt
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about his experiences growing up in a divided Jerusalem from 1948-1967.
“Why do I say Jerusalem will never be divided again? Because I remember what it was like when it was divided,” Netanyahu said. “It was a wounded, divided city that had no future.”
Netanyahu then described how he and other Jerusalemites rushed to the Western Wall, through the alleys of the Old City, after hearing Mota Gur say `The Temple Mount is in our hands.` ”It was like a lightning bolt. I can`t describe it any other way,” said Netanyahu.
“We came back. We united the city…We ensured that Jerusalem was a free city for all,” he added. ”In this great convulsion that is taking place around us, there is one free city, where Christians, Jews and Muslims are free to worship undisturbed, and that`s in the free, united city of Jerusalem, and that`s how it will stay.”
The event took place days after the Senate unanimously voted on a resolution honoring the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification in strong support of Israel’s sovereignty in its capital.