Myths and Facts about Jerusalem on the day Israelis celebrate the city’s reunification

I took the following photo of the Kotel in the Old City of Jerusalem a few months ago.


As Israel today celebrates Yom Yerushalayim – the 46th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem on the 28th of Iyar – it is important to understand the myths and facts regarding the capital of the Jewish state.

CAMERA has an excellent backgrounder on Jerusalem, here, and Eli Hertz, at Myths and Facts, has a brief but important page on the history of the political exploitation of the city by Arab leaders, here.  

10 replies »

    • “Jewish sovereignty was unquestioned”

      Peter, is this so?

      Is this why the Babylonians, The Romans and the Christians kicked the Jews out of Jerusalem and the region?

      Pay attention to:

      599–597 BCE: first Babylonian siege – Nebuchadnezzar II crushed a rebellion in the Kingdom of Judah and other cities in the Levant which had been sparked by the Neo-Babylonians failed invasion of Egypt in 601. Jehoiachin of Jerusalem deported to Babylon (Biblical sources only)
      587–6 BCE: second Babylonian siege – Nebuchadnezzar II fought Pharaoh Apries’s attempt to invade Judah. Jerusalem mostly destroyed including the First Temple, and the city’s prominent citizens exiled to Babylon (Biblical sources only)
      582 BCE: Gedaliah the Babylonian governor of Judah assassinated, provoking refugees to Egypt and a third deportation (Biblical sources only)


      175 BCE: Antiochus IV Epiphanes succeeds his father and becomes King of the Seleucid Empire. He accelerates Seleucid efforts to eradicate the Jewish religion by forcing the Jewish High Priest Onias III to step down in favor of his brother Jason, who was replaced by Menelaus three years later. He outlaws Sabbath and circumcision, sacks Jerusalem and erects an altar to Zeus in the Second Temple after plundering it.


      132–135: Bar Kokhba’s revolt – Simon Bar Kokhba leads a revolt against the Roman Empire, controlling the city for three years. He is proclaimed as the Messiah by Rabbi Akiva ben Joseph. Hadrian sends Sextus Julius Severus to the region, who brutally crushes the revolt and retakes the city.
      136 Hadrian formally reestablishes the city as Aelia Capitolina, and forbids Jewish and Christian presence in the city
      c136–140: A Temple to Jupiter is built on the Temple Mount and a temple to Venus is built on Calvary
      138: Restrictions over Christian presence in the city are relaxed after Hadrian dies and Antoninus Pius becomes emperor.
      195: Saint Narcissus of Jerusalem presides over a council held by the bishops of Palestine in Caesarea, and decreed that Easter was to be always kept on a Sunday, and not with the Jewish Passover


      c.325: The ban on Jews entering the city remains in force, but they are allowed to enter once a year to pray at the Western Wall on Tisha B’Av.


      1099: Siege of Jerusalem (1099) – First Crusaders capture Jerusalem and slaughter most of the city’s Muslim and Jewish inhabitants.

      And of course the funny thing is that the Jews were allowed back into their city by:

      1187: Siege of Jerusalem (1187) – Saladin captures Jerusalem from the Crusaders, after Battle of the Horns of Hattin. Allows Jewish and Orthodox Christian settlement.


      • BTW Itsik you somehow forgot to add to this list – well known by every child in Israel after finishing the elementary school – the last item:
        After the War of Independence the the Eastern part of the city was ruled by Jordan after murdering/expelling the Jewish majority, they destroyed every synagogue and used the tombstones of the ancient Jewish cemetery to build public toilets.
        (I guess those were the only such institutions in all of the Muslim world)

  1. Hilarious website. Thanks for your cute, slightly misguided efforts.

    Best part of this piece: the wonderful self-awareness in the reference to the “history of the political exploitation of the city by Arab leaders”.

  2. Itsik what the felafel are you speaking about? I copied a link here to an interview with Nir Barkat the mayor of Jerusalem. Would you be so kind to explain how is it connected to the sovereignty of the city?!

  3. Did those articles discuss the “unification” of the education system in Jerusalem, where ALL children in unified Jerusalem receive the same education opportunities ? NOT.
    Do they discuss how all parts of “unified” Jerusalem have the same investment in infrastructure ? sanitation ? social services ? NOT.
    It seems that after the “unification” of the city, all govt levels have pursued a deliberate policy of keeping the city divided.

  4. Here’s an example of the myth of a “united city”:

    “Within the Jerusalem district, …… With a shortage of classrooms and striking discrepancies in resources allotted to Palestinian versus Jewish Israeli citizens, many of these children lack access to adequate education, including 24,000 children who remain unrecognized by the Jerusalem Education Administration.
    The current educational inequalities, particularly in East Jerusalem, ….. highlight the overall issue of discrimination within Israel.”

    “Thousands of Palestinian students in East Jerusalem are denied access to free public education, although Israeli law entitles them to it. One of the main problems is the shortage of over 1,000 classrooms.
    The Israeli High Court has deliberated this shortage of classrooms in East Jerusalem several times in recent years, and ruled that the Ministry of Education and the Jerusalem Municipality must build the much needed classrooms. Yet despite repeated goverment promises to the Court to resolve this shortage, hundreds of classrooms still have not been built, and the classroom shortage has steadily worsened.
    As a result of this classroom shortage, the municipal school system is unable to absorb all the children who want to attend the municipal schools. …”