Jerusalem , A Sephardic Perspective.
by Albert Bivas

     In the wake of the 25th anniversary of the “liberation” and “reunification” of Jerusalem, I have pondered on the importance given to this event, its elevation to some kind of a miracle, a messianic happening, a joyful event.
Jerusalem was already united for hundreds of years prior to the creation of the state of Israel that led to its division and to the event of its subsequent “reunification” nineteen years later.  It was already liberated too, in the sense that anyone including Jews, Christians and Moslems could visit it any time and worship in its sacred places.  The only obstacles to these pilgrimages were distance and perhaps cost and time.  This is still so today as it was prior to June of 1967 except that it is somewhat remedied by technology of the airplane.

     For all of us living in the Middle East it was as simple then to go to Jerusalem as for those living in today’s Israel or yesterday’s Palestine.  Furthermore if this “reunification” -- “liberation” is such a milestone in our history, why have we had an interlude of 19 years (1948 through 1967) capped by a war at each end and a third one in the middle of that period with all consequent casualties?  Could this interlude be like the 40 years that our ancestors, the Hebrews, wandered in the desert on their way from Egypt to Eretz Canaan and were given the 10 Commandments?  This is truly a milestone in our history.  Generally such an interlude, a waiting period, would be to prepare us for an important event through some sort of atonement, repentance, purification, cleansing of our souls, bodies and spirits so that we merit and appreciate the gift given to us.  However, in June of 1967 nothing of that magnitude happened.  On the contrary, we had since that date, a war of attrition, boycotts, economic sanctions, social distress, a high rate of exile from the land, a surprised enemies’ attack in 1973 followed by more economic and social disruptions, including the now famous/infamous Intifada.  Before 1948 we were a people in the Middle East living in different states, belonging to, nationals of those states we lived in, perhaps by choice, with the freedom to move anywhere within that region as we pleased, to congregate with our respective coreligionists and at the same time having affinities with our respective co-nationals.  Now we are Jews locked in our own territories, a fortress, our independent state, surrounded by people who are now our enemies.  We do not trust them.  They do not trust us.  They hate us.  We hate them.  We spend most of our resources in military hardware and training to protect what we once had with trust.  Is this the Liberation?  The Unification of our Holy City?  The Promised Land?  The Messianic Era as envisioned by our prophets and verbalized to us by Isaiah as follows: 
        “...these will hammer their swords into plowshares, 
        their spears into sickles.                   
        Nation will not lift sword against nation,
        there will be no more training for war..."? 
We still have training for war, our swords have not been hammered into plowshares, nor our spears into sickles...  Instead of swords we lift even more terrible tools of destruction.  No, this event of June of 1967 is not yet the time to celebrate...  but do we still dare to hope that one day soon Jerusalem will be called the City of Integrity, the Faithful City because “Zion will be redeemed by justice, and her penitents by integrity...”            

Albert Bivas

Published in Los Muestros