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What The President Does Not Understand
A Letter to Jerusalem
By Yosef Y. Jacobson
The Kotel in Jerusalem

In my soul's imagination, I travel back 2,700 years to one of the street corners of Jerusalem, the splendid city of white gold. I could hear our prophet Isaiah wiping his tears as he uttered those moving and immortal words, "Comfort, comfort my people," says the Lord. "Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call out to her.”

Jerusalem! Today I wish to heed Isaiah's words and speak to your heart.

How many secrets does your gigantic heart contain? How many impressions, how many scars are embedded in the crevices of your ancient stones?

If I only could, even for a moment, feel all that you have absorbed over the past 4,000 years. You have been there to take in every tear, every sigh, every wound and every death. You have seen your children born and your children slaughtered, the brides married and then mutilated. You have watched millions of Jews dancing in your streets and then seen millions of them massacred on the very same thoroughfares. You have heard scores of melodies of jubilation and you have lent your ear to numerous wallows of grief. The entire story of my people is displayed on the worn and weathered lines of your stony silent face.

You have been a loyal witness to our collective drama, unique among all the peoples in the world: Our glory and our horror, our despair and our hope. Our firm faith in the existence of ultimate good and our rational skepticism caused by evil's ruthless power on this planet. Above all—you have served as the energizer in our millennia long battle to fashion a world that would reflect the infinity of human potential.

When I enter your walls, oh Jerusalem, I forget my ego. I become larger than myself, part of the eternal melody of my people Israel, reverberating throughout every inch of your soil.

In the rest of the world, people pursue meaning; in you, Jerusalem, meaning pursues people. You have been the center stage of a 4,000-year struggle to build a fragment of heaven down here on earth. This courageous effort always sustained itself from your terrain, one place in the world where heaven and earth kiss.

The Kabbalists taught us that every holy thought, every moral instinct, every sacred yearning, every spiritual experience originates within the walls of Jerusalem. You have been chosen to serve as the power-plant of holiness and morality in a hostile and depraved world.

And you never forgot us, Jerusalem. Since the day the Temple went up in flames, you did not close your eyelids for even one night's rest. Like a mother tossing and turning awaiting the return of a missing child, you have never ceased anticipating your children's return. You never came to terms with our expulsion from your sacred borders.
On this day, Jerusalem, your children are hurting. Once again, the powers of the world are attempting to expel your children from parts of your terrain. Is this the vision of a future democratic Palestinian State--that Jews are forbidden to live in certain parts of Jerusalem? Arabs may live in any part of Jerusalem; Jews are forbidden to live in certain parts of their historical capital of three-thousand years?

The President of the United States and his administration have naively come to believe that the conflict between the Jews and the Arabs is over this or that piece of land, not over the very existence of Israel. For years, many hundreds of your children were blown to pieces by the hands of their neighbors, only because territory has been ceded to them, territory which was immediately transformed into bastions of terror. Among the victims were tiny little children, teenagers, parents, grandparents. A big hole has been formed in the collective heart of Israel. No celebration is complete anymore; no serenity genuine. Too many people's laughter has been stolen in this tiny country. For the sake of peace and the sanctity of human life—both Jew and Arab life—we ought not to embolden our neighbors to begin yet the third Intifada.

Jerusalem! What we, the Jewish people, need more than anything today is a big hug and a dose of unshakable confidence to withstand the pressure to invite yet more bloodshed. We need the courage to stand up to the American President and to all of the Israel hunters in the world to declare: Do not allow Jerusalem, the heart of our hearts, to be used as a propaganda tool in the hands of people who sadly crave our destruction.
May G-d embrace you, oh Jerusalem, so that you can embrace us.





Posted on April 23, 2010
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