Jews belong in Jerusalem

...As we toured the ancient graveyard, I pointed out the layers of Jewish history before us. The Mount of Olives is the oldest existing Jewish cemetery, with 150,000 graves spanning 3,000 years. The biblical prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi lie alongside modern day heroes like Henrietta Szold, the founder of Hadassah, Eliezer Ben Yehuda, who resurrected the modern Hebrew language, and Rabbi Shlomo Goren, chief rabbi of the IDF during the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem and Hebron in the Six-Day War.

There are also signs of great pain. We saw the mass grave of 48 fighters who died trying to defend the Old City, which eventually fell to Jordan in the War of Independence. Those brave warriors’ bodies remained in the Jordanian-occupied Old City until 1967, when Rabbi Goren properly interred them in the cemetery. We also saw the remnants of the 40,000 graves destroyed or vandalized in the 19 years of Jordanian occupation. In those years many Jewish headstones were used as Jordanian paving and building material.

Today, grave desecration is recurring at the Mount of Olives cemetery and the group saw firsthand the continuing travesty in the form of freshly smashed tombs and broken headstones.

But all is not dark. I told the group about the attempts at co-existence in our area. I showed the visitors Arab schools built by the Jerusalem municipality. I talked about shopping in Arab stores, being treated by Arab doctors, and talking Koran or Torah over coffee with my Arab neighbors....

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