TEL AVIV, ISRAEL (LC)
Violence disrupted Jerusalem Day protests as Israeli police and anti-occupation activists clashed.
An activist captured video of Israeli police violently removing American protesters:
— Naomi Dann (@naomi_dann) May 24, 2017
Jerusalem Day (יום ירושלים or “Yom Yerushalayim”) is an Israeli holiday that commemorates the reunification of Jerusalem after the Six-Day War in 1967. Under the 1947 UN Partition Plan Jerusalem was to be an international city, neither Jewish nor Arab, for a period of 10 years, following which a referendum was to be held. The UN plan derailed in 1948 when a coalition of Arab states attacked Israel, and again after the Six Day War. By the end of the Six Day War, Israel had gained control of Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. Both wars left the region divided—in human terrain as well as culturally and geographically.
The holiday has lost much favor across Israel’s secular community, but it has support from the Religious Zionist population.
Even though Jerusalem Day is not very popular internationally, some travel great distances to participate.
Talia Renner, 19, from Mexico City said, “Today is about celebrating that we are here and that the whole nation is united. We didn’t have a unified capital before, and now, for 50 years, we have the chance to be here celebrating on Jerusalem’s streets, and at one time we couldn’t.”
Ronnie Kaplan, 74, was one of the soldiers that fought in the Six Day War. He traveled from Johannesburg for the celebration and to attend a reunion with a number of paratroopers who fought in his unit. “There were 60 of us who came here from Johannesburg to defend Israel before and during the war, which was very quick. Everybody pulled together and helped each other, and 50 years later we had a fantastic weekend on a kibbutz together.”
Not everyone shared the sentiment. Several Israeli businesses closed to show solidarity with their Arab counterparts, which were forced to close by Israeli security forces.
Yossi Ben-David, owner of Falafel Mullah, said, “We are happy to celebrate Jerusalem Day, but there is no reason that a businessman needs to lose a day’s pay for kids marching.”
The event occurred just days after U.S. President Donald Trump visited Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories hoping to bring peace to the region. Trump stated he was “personally committed to helping Israelis and Palestinians achieve a peace agreement,” and that he believes “the Palestinians are ready to reach for peace.”
Donald Trump previously promised to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that would be certain to further exacerbate the situation.
Hopefully the self-styled “Dealmaker in Chief” can bring peace to this tumultuous region.
J. David Thompson, reporting from Tel Aviv on behalf of Lima Charlie News MENA
Follow David on Twitter @JDThompsonLC
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