NRK featured a short article about Jerusalem Day, noting that 40,000 turned out in parades to commemorate, as NRK put it, the “conquest of East Jerusalem.” NRK helpfully points out that East Jerusalem primarily “houses” Palestinians.
In fact, Yom Yerushalayim does not celebrate a conquest. It celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem. And it is officially a religious holiday in the land of Israel that includes synagogue services in which, notably, Hallel (psalms of praise) is recited. NRK might argue that the reunification was a result of a “conquest,” but this would the same as saying that May 8th is celebrated in Norway because of an invasion.
An honest account of a celebration explains fully why those who celebrate it find it important.
Indeed, to reduce the area “conquered” to “East Jerusalem” fails to convey the profound importance of these parts of Jerusalem to Israelis and indeed Judaism.
NRK, likes to refer to the Kotel, the Western Wall, as the Wailing Wall, to perpetuate the canard that Jews like to stand and complain for hours at a time. Of course, a cursory review of Jewish liturgy shows how this most clearly is inaccurate, but never mind. The Kotel was left in disrepair during the Jordanian occupation, synagogues were demolished, the Jewish graveyard on the Mount of Olives was desecrated. Jordanian snipers shot at Jews in then-Israeli Jerusalem. No Jews were allowed to any of their holy sites.
The iconic photograph of this day does not show a celebration of conquest, but a moment of awe. These are the paratroopers who liberated the Western Wall, the Kotel in 1967.
This photo, along with the song, “Jerusalem of Gold” (sung here by Ofra Haza) is what captures the spirit of Yom Yerushalayim the best.
Your name will scorch my lips for ever, Like a seraph’s kiss, I’m told, If I forget thee, golden city, Jerusalem of gold.
People might also want to watch Matisyahu’s Youtube tribute to Jerusalem to get a sense of the significance of Jerusalem.
Clearly, NRK has a journalistic duty to point out that what Israeli see as a reunification, others see as an invasion, occupation, even catastrophe. We’re not asking that NRK cover Jerusalem the way they cover Syttende Mai.
But when NRK tries to distort the nature of the celebration, and the significance of the unified city, it is not just doing its usual Fatah-inspired hack job.
The journalists are also being petty. In trying to create the impression that the Kotel, indeed the entire Temple Mount, the Jewish Quarter, the Mount of Olives, are all just random neighborhoods in Jerusalem. They deny the deep significance these places have in Jewish life and civilization.
Such coverage is the work of small minds, people with no compassion, no curiosity, with no interest in the broader, multidimensional aspects of human existence and human conflict. It is the kind of coverage you would see all the time in totalitarian regimes, where conformity to a stale, worn-out narrative is more important than anything else.