Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat attend City of David archeological unveiling .
(photo credit: DANIEL K. EISENBUD)
Political, religious and historic luminaries gathered underground at the City of David National Park’s archeological site on Tuesday to unveil a restored 2,000-year-old road leading to the Western Wall, and condemn last week’s UN resolution against settlement construction.
As rain and sleet poured down, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat stood together several meters under the Givati parking lot in Silwan to light a large silver hanukkia at the end of the ancient road.
Shortly after unveiling an official plaque celebrating the find, Regev took the UN Security Council member nations and US President Barack Obama to task for deeming Jewish construction beyond the 1949 Armistice Line a “flagrant violation” of international law.
“Mr. President Barack Obama, I am standing here, on Hanukka, on the same road on which my forefathers walked 2,000 years ago,” said Regev defiantly. “No resolution in any international forum is as strong as the steadfast stones on this street.”
Noting several of the 14 countries that participated in the resolution – including New Zealand, Ukraine, Senegal, and Malaysia – the minister added that “no other people in the world has such a connection and link to their land.”
Listening intently as they sat on makeshift wooden benches a few meters away with several MKs, were the three Israeli paratroopers immortalized in an iconic 1967 photograph after helping liberate the Old City and the Western Wall.
“I’m excited to be here today at this event to show where ancient pilgrims once walked near the Wall we liberated 50 years ago,” said Zion Karasenti, as fellow fighters Yitzak Yifat and Haim Oshri nodded their approval. “Nothing, and no UN resolution, will ever take the Western Wall away from us.”
The hours-long ceremony, initiated to officially begin united Jerusalem’s 50th jubilee-year celebrations, also featured rare relics, including millennia-old ballista balls, jugs and jewelry, discovered by archeologists who excavated the once well-travelled road during the Second Temple period.
The approximately 50-meter roadway, built near the Herodian Pool of Siloam, where pilgrims once immersed themselves, begins south of the City of David, and ends at the foot of the Western Wall’s Robinson’s Arch.
“Nearly 2,000 years after the Great Revolt against the Romans, our paratroopers entered Lion’s Gate, and realized the eternal dream of the Jewish people,” Regev continued, after Amar led a prayer.
“The dream of the Jews in Yemen, Germany, Ethiopia, Poland, Morocco and Russia – to return to Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people, a symbol of holiness and justice. Fifty years ago, we made that hope reality.”
“Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, returned to be unified,” added a visibly emotional Regev. “And will never agree to be divided again.”
Holding a rare coin discovered during the protracted excavation, the minister said last month’s UNESCO vote denying Judaism’s connection to its holiest site, the Temple Mount, can never obviate historic truths.
“This coin, like many other findings, is evidence of the historical truth and our deep connection to Jerusalem,” said Regev.
“UNESCO announced several weeks ago that there is no such connection. The voting in Paris is ridiculous – you cannot undo a history of thousands of years. So, today we respond to this historical distortion with a clear voice: Jews lived in Jerusalem, and the Jews will continue to live in Jerusalem.”
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