Jerusalem Day – the Big Picture

For people looking on from other countries over the last four weeks, it has seemed as if Jerusalem is a very troubled city. Media reports have focused on outbreaks of violence between Arabs, Israeli police and Jewish protesters.

The BBC’s latest article today is just one example of this media coverage, where tensions are reaching a high point on Jerusalem Day. The article focuses on fresh clashes that have broken out between Israeli police and Arabs at the Al-Aqsa mosque ahead of the annual Jerusalem Day march.

Arab protesters have once again been throwing ‘stones’ (or rocks) at Israeli security forces who have fired stun grenades in response.


Jerusalem Day march (file photo)Jerusalem Day March (file photo by Reuters)

Jerusalem Day

Jerusalem Day is the day when Israelis commemorate the reunification of the city after a period of 19 years when it was divided, with most under Jordanian control following their successful assault during the War of Independence in 1948.

The reunification is particularly important to many Jews because the city had not been divided since the time of King David, around the year 1,000 BC, except for those 19 years between 1948 and 1967.

There had always been a Jewish presence in the Old City of Jerusalem until the Jordanians laid siege to it, finally forcing the Jewish defenders to surrender, and evicting all of the survivors.

The Big Picture

Yet the City of Jerusalem is much bigger than the flashpoints of the last four weeks – important as they are. This means that the vast majority of its citizens have not been involved in the recent troubles and continue with their lives as normal.

On Sunday, Jerusalem’s current and former mayors attended the inauguration ceremony of a new visitor centre in Israel’s capital. The newly renovated ‘Chain of Generations’ centre is located next to the Western Wall Plaza. It tells the story of the city and its deep connection with the Jewish people.

But a picture that is more accessible for most of us is this YouTube video compiled by artist Eitan Asraf. It is just under 8 minutes long and is well worth watching to get a better idea of the size, variety and vibrancy of the modern City of Jerusalem.