Jerusalem Day controversy encourages some to celebrate differently

This year, Jerusalem Tolerance is advertising over 40 alternative ways to celebrate Jerusalem between Saturday June 1 and Sunday June 2.

May 26, 2019 11:29
1 minute read.
Israeli flag

Israeli flag. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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 Some Jerusalemites are hoping to celebrate Jerusalem Day a bit differently this year. 

The Israeli national holiday celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem and Israeli control over the Old City is often scrutinized for its flag march where thousands of Jews march through the Old City, including the Muslim quarter. In the past, Jews have been known to sing controversial songs like Zochreni nah” (Please Remember Me), which Samson calls for revenge against the Philistines – sometimes marchers switched the word to “Palestinians” instead. 
The organization Jerusalem Tolerance, which is a consortium of social activists trying to turn Jerusalem into a more tolerant place, is hosting its annual Jerusalemite Day, advertised as an alternative way of celebrating Jerusalem Day. 

This year, the organization is advertising over 40 alternative ways to celebrate Jerusalem between Saturday June 1 and Sunday June 2, the days Jerusalem Day falls on in the Gregorian calendar. 

Their list includes a variety of events, including a flower march – likely to counter the flag march – where participants will hand out flowers in the Old City. Events also include unique tours of holy sites and dialogue meetings. So far the Facebook event predicts a low turn out with 73 marked "going" and 135 marked "interested."

Jerusalem Day and the flag march are especially sensitive issues this year, because the march occurs during the final days of Ramadan. The left wing NGO Ir Amim submitted a petition to the High Court, asking it to change the route taken by Israelis during the march. Last Sunday, the court rejected the petition. But the judges reiterated previous rulings that the police would protect the Muslim shopkeepers and residents, as well as stop incitement and violence. 

While the flag march route was not changed because of Ramadan, the Temple Mount will be closed on Jerusalem Day for that very reason. The court even rejected a petition to reverse the position. This is the first time the site will be closed to Jews on this day in 30 years. 

According to Israel, Jerusalem is the "complete and united capital of Israel." Palestinians regard east Jerusalem as their capital. 

JTA and Udi Shaham contributed to this report. 


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