Wednesday, February 23, 2011

             When Israel's Jerusalem Was In Jordan's Hands                                   
Nadene Goldfoot
Some of Israel was once in Jordan's hands. This was because when Israel declared itself a state in May 1948 with the UN in agreement, Jordan then invaded and occupied East Jerusalem.  They drove out the Jews living there and into exile from their homes.   Jews were not allowed to live in their ancient historic places.  While Jordan illegally occupied the land for 18 years, Jews could not go to the Wailing Wall "Western Wall" in Jerusalem.  They could not visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs or even Rachel's Tomb.  Finally, the War of 1967 put an end to the first time division of Jerusalem and Israelis were able to be in all parts of it. 

The Masada, a place of last refuge for Jews before being attacked and killed by the Romans and now a place of initiating IDF soldiers as well as a tourist attraction was forbidden to Jews until March of 1949.  This is when IDF  units moved from Be'er Sheva to the Dead Sea at Sodom and Ein Gedi.

March 1949 was  a time that an armistice was drawn up between Jordan and Israel.  If one remembers, Jordan was the land that was supposed to go to Israel originally and instead they complained so much that they got it instead.  Then on April 24, 1949, an armistice line was agreed on at Rhodes.  It was not a border but just a line where the fighting stopped.  This fighting happened when Israel was attacked by all surrounding nations when it declared itself a state.  It's called the War of Independence.  Moshe Dayan and Yosef Tabenkin were brigade commanders then and wanted to capture the Old City of Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron at that time but were stopped by the cease-fire of October 22, 1948.

The Jordanians treated Jerusalem with much disrespect while it was in their hands.  The cemeteries were vandalized.  They uprooted tombstones, and then plowed the land which scattered skeletons and bones all about.  38000 tombstones were smashed or damaged and used for flooring for their latrines and for paving material for roads.  They made 4 roads right through cemeteries.  The graves of famous personages were destroyed.  The Intercontinental Hotel was built right over a cemetery as well as a gas station.  The Mount of Olives, a cemetery that Jews have used for 3,000 years and held 150,000 graves, was desecrated when in Jordan's hands along with others. 

As Oregonians study Oregon in the 4th and 8th grades and take field trips to sites to remember their history, so do Israeli students.  They take trips to the tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  These are their reminders that the Land of Israel is the ancient homeland of the Jewish people.   Many of us had been gone for 2,000 years, but we have returned to join the remnant left here and are building it up again.

Much has been said about the 1967 borders.  This line shouldn't deter Israelis from going and remembering their history and why they live in Israel.

Just as Americans remember their history of 1776 and the Revolution, Israelis cannot forget their leaders who fought for the creation of Israel before and after May 1948.  They have the right to study and see the places.  Whatever would have happened to the Jewish religion if Jews did not remember Pesach "Passover"?  These historic sites should be held in esteem just like any other country's historic sites. 

Resource:   by Moshe Arens, Born 1925 in Lithuania, immigrated in 1948; US ambassador to USA in 82-82; Minister of Defense in 90-92 and Jan 99.  Engineer educated at MIT.

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