Forty years ago this week — on the Hebrew calendar — Jerusalem was nervous.
The fighting that came to be known as the Six-Day War was still underway, and the extent of Israel’s lightning victory on three fronts was not yet fully known.
Then Mordechai Gur uttered the words that still ring through the decades, “The Temple Mount is in our hands,” and with the capture of the holiest spot in the Old City, the celebrating began.
The capital of Israel was again unified, after 19 years, and East met West where a barbed-wire boundary had separated the Jewish State from Jordan.
This week Jerusalem was exuberant.
Swelled by thousands of tourists and pilgrims, the city marked the landmark anniversary of its reunification. With parades and rallies, concerts and a Bible quiz, Jerusalem celebrated itself.
In a parade through the center of the city, above, women in a variety of ethnic dresses sing and carry Israeli flags. A young girl, left, is surrounded by large flags, and marchers, smaller flags in hand, march and chant.
“The last 40 years were only the beginning,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a special Knesset session. “I believe, I hope and I pray that we will continue to work together to reinforce Jerusalem in order to extend its boundaries.
“After 40 years of reunification we want to see a city that, instead of creating conflicts, solves them, a city which is no longer ground for bloody clashes, but a place of harmony and acceptance,” Olmert said.
As usual, politics was not far away. Most ambassadors stayed away from a major diplomatic reception at the Knesset.
Also absent was Yossi Beilin, chairman of the left-wing Mertz party, and Knesset members from Arab parties. “I did not want to lie to myself and participate in this strange event honoring the unification of Jerusalem, which never took place,” Beilin said.