ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF
ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS
Address by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Ceremony Marking the 47th Anniversary of the Unification of Jerusalem
47 years ago, Jerusalem – the unified city – was joined together again. This is the way it has always been, and this is the way it always will be. We mark this date – the 28th of Iyar 1967. It is a significant date, particularly in this place, because on the 28th of Iyar 1904, 63 years earlier, Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaCohen Kook, founder of this important yeshiva, the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva, immigrated to Israel.
I feel at home here because Rabbi Kook had a tremendous impact on my grandfather, Nathan Mileikowsky. He derived endless strength and inspiration from the Rabbi. Rabbi Kook delivered a beautiful eulogy for my grandfather. Another connection is your beloved father, Rabbi Avraham Shapira, who used to tell me how, as a small child in Jerusalem, he would often listen to my grandfather talk about Zionism, the Land of Israel, Jerusalem, the Return to Zion. He told me that my grandfather was a great orator. I feel at home here. This is my home.
There was something unique about the spirit of Rabbi Kook which beats inside us. Rabbi Kook was a great Zionist. He saw Herzl as a messenger of history. I see him as the personification of a modern-day biblical prophet who emerged from the pages of the Bible. But Rabbi Kook also believed that Zionism must not disengage from Judaism as he believed that nationalism alone, disconnected from the eternal sources of the people of Israel, has neither justification nor viability. There is no spirit without substance. There is no flour without the Torah. This is the essence of the connection between the “spiritual Jerusalem” and the “profane Jerusalem”.
As the Prime Minister of Israel, I am occupied with the “profane Jerusalem”. We dig tunnels and pave roads and build bridges. You see the tremendous work on the path to Zion. All you see in Mevasseret Zion today are the bulldozers paving the paths to and inside our capital city. We are responsible for the building, development and prosperity of Jerusalem, and there is still great work to be done. Jerusalem has developed remarkably. Jerusalem after the Six Day War was not a small village, but it was not exactly a big metropolis either. Today, Jerusalem is a big metropolis. It stands out in all its glory. Jerusalem is Beit Hakerem, Kiryat Yovel and Har Homa, our “southern gate”, which I was privileged to establish during my first term as Prime Minister.
Jerusalem is factories, including advanced hi-tech factories, “From Zion will the software come forth”, and it will come forth to the entire world. Jerusalem is all of these things, but it is also Yad Vashem and Herzl’s Tomb and the Mount of Olives, where my grandfather and grandmother, Menachem Begin and many of our forefathers are buried. Jerusalem is also Mount Zion and Moriah Mountain and the Western Wall and “Eternal Israel”. We preserve our heart, the heart of our nation.
We will never divide our heart – never. As we believe that our capital is the heart of our nation, it must be united, as the Rabbi just said, it must be connected to the great soul of Eternal Israel, to the Torah and to the intellectual assets created by our Sages throughout the generations.
Each Shabbat, I draw strength from reading one book, one portion, uncovering one surprise. Most of the time there is a wise student, more or less your age, to help me, and from time to time we surf the net. The amount of strength we draw from the Bible is tremendous. Never have I read it without discovering how relevant it is to our situation today, both spiritually and practically.
The Rabbi spoke of inner strengths. Let me tell you, you need strength to be Prime Minister of Israel. It is not the easiest job in the world. From where do we draw our strength? Where does this nation – which rose from the ashes and made miracles, a nation revered throughout the world – find its strength? This is my responsibility.
I was in China where Israel is admired. I was also in Japan where Israel is also admired. I spoke with the Prime Minister of India (I’m talking about the small countries) who respects Israel and wants to have ties with us, and many others. There is also a great deal of hatred, anti-Semitism and slander directed at us, but there is also great admiration because many among the nations of the world know that there is something special here, a spiritual spark, an eternal spark, a people that survived for thousands of years against all odds, returned to their homeland, rebuilt their homeland, established their state and built an unprecedented military force.
There is a unique spirit here, and it all concentrated in one place – Jerusalem. It is concentrated in the Book of Books, in studying it and nurturing it. Every child in our country should know this book, Judaic studies. I am telling you this with a deep conviction. Simply put, I believe it is necessary to ensure our people’s eternity.
This is the reason I am here this evening. I am here to celebrate the joy of Jerusalem with you. “Be glad with Jerusalem and rejoice in her”, said the Prophet Isaiah. I am here to encourage you to keep studying the Torah. I congratulate you on this festive day, the festive day of Jerusalem. Happy holiday to all the people of Israel. Blessings.