Free Zion! Our new defiant slogan

Living under threat, the Yemenite community in Silwan were evacuated for safety concerns by the Jewish National Committee, and by 1945, no Jews remained in Silwan.

July 20, 2019 20:58
Free Zion! Our new defiant slogan

Jerusalem’s Pilgrimage Road. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

I was reading an article in The Jerusalem Post about the newly discovered Pilgrimage Road, a pathway that Jewish pilgrims took to the ancient Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The site was stumbled upon by accident. A rusty water pipe burst in Silwan, a place where after 1948, Arabs moved into the homes of Yemenite Jews forced to flee by marauding Arab rioters and the invading Jordanian army, while the nascent state of Israel perilously held onto territory by its fingertips from aggressive Arab armies launching a war of annihilation against the new Jewish state.

In the 1880s, Jews from Yemen began to make their way to Jerusalem on foot, a journey drawn by the magnet of the Jewish Temple. The pilgrimage trek took half a year. They arrived destitute, but elated, to make their new homes in Silwan within touching distance of all that was sacred by the Old City walls.

By 1910, these Jews had sufficient money to purchase a scratch of ground on the Mount of Olives to bury their dead. They lived in relative peace alongside their Muslim and Christian neighbors until the deadly Arab pogrom, initiated by the infamous Jew-hating Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini. Over a three-year period between 1936-1939, hundreds of Jews were killed and many more injured throughout pre-state Palestine.

Living under threat, the Yemenite community in Silwan were evacuated for safety concerns by the Jewish National Committee, and by 1945, no Jews remained in Silwan.

When the Jordanian Army conquered Jerusalem, they forced Jews out of the Old City, including the Silwan Jews, and destroyed synagogues and yeshivas. The Jordanians dug up the Jewish gravestones on the Mount of Olives and used them as paving stones in Jerusalem.

Arab families began to occupy evacuated Jewish homes, including those in Silwan. Properties and farming land were stolen from absentee Jews by Arabs without registering ownership. The area remained under Jordanian occupation until 1967, when Israel succeeded in liberating the territory during yet another war of Arab aggression forced on the Jewish state.

Today, it remains a contentious area as Jewish organizations fight to reestablish Jewish ownership and a Jewish presence in Silwan. Part of that effort includes extensive archaeological projects that constantly uncover startling evidence of a three-millennial Jewish sovereignty. These projects include the City of David, the residence of King David, the water channels that provided water to the Old City and the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, and the pools that were the cleansing stations for Jewish pilgrims before their ascent to the holy shrine.

The most recent discovery is the Pilgrimage Road, the walkway that led masses from the mikveh in Silwan – known as the Pool of Siloam – up to the Jewish Temple. It was along this road that ancient Jewish scholars strode to fulfill their religious obligations at the Temple. Jesus must have walked along this road.

The site was opened to great fanfare on June 30, 2019. It further reinforces Israel’s justified sovereignty over Jerusalem. The archaeological site adds to the abundant evidence of Jewish presence over 2,000 years ago, well before the beginning of Islam in 633 BCE.

Documentary narration of Jewish history has been verified by artifacts found at the site, including catapult projectiles used against Jewish rebels by Romans destroying Judaism’s most holy site and killing Jews in the process.

A significant discovery was made at the site in November 2016. Coins, minted during this period by Jews about to battle mighty Roman invaders, were uncovered. The coins feature a menorah and bear the inscription, “Two years to the Great Revolt,” a message that the struggle for Zion was not over. This was the clarion call of the Jewish rebels to defy and oppose the foreign rule of Rome. More such coins have been found recently in the archaeological excavations at this site with the slogan “For the Redemption of Zion” emblazoned on them. The coins have come to be called the “Free Zion” coins.

This is the spirit in which the Pilgrimage Road, and everything connected to the contemporary Jewish struggle of re-constituting Jewish sovereignty on this land and capital city, is based. It is the cry for the battle against contemporary delegitimizers of Jewish history and the state of Israel.

This is evidence of Jews dating back three millennia to today and evidence that we were the ones that created, not conquered or destroyed, ancient artifacts as the Jordanians and the Palestinian Arabs have done in Jerusalem. We cherished and preserved them, no matter what dynasty they are.

The Palestinians, despite their bluster, have no history of sovereignty and no ancient deeds of ownership. Their “history” is a myth; a fiction dredged up by dark malevolent minds to block the light of inspection onto genuine Jewish legitimacy and heritage.

Today, there is a call to “Free Palestine.” They advance the argument that this Palestine must be “from the river to the sea.”  Yet they cannot find one ancient coin, one artefact, one proven fact to show that a sovereign Palestine ever existed, anywhere.

Against their history bluster there is only one crystal clear answer. Prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, going back in history as far as you can go, there was only one other legitimate sovereignty in the land of Israel, and that was Judea. Judea, where the word Jews derives. So today, we must raise the cry that is found on that tiny coin that speaks to us from two thousand years ago.

Free Zion!

I propose that a banner is raised. A banner carrying the image of that defiant Jewish coin and the words “Free Zion!”

This banner, badge, flag, emblem, icon, should we displayed by every Zionist, and every pro-Israel activist be they Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or secular supporters of truth. The truth of the legitimacy of Jewish self-determination and the right of Israel to exist in peace in our historic and legitimate land.

The writer is the International Public Diplomacy Director at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. He is a writer, speaker and author of ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism,’ ‘BDS for IDIOTS,’ and ‘1917, From Palestine to the Land of Israel.’

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