Dore Gold receives Guardian of Zion Award

"Rather than fight against unity of J'lem, world community should come forward to embrace it,” says head of the J'lem Center for Public Affairs.

Dore Gold Guardian of Zion award 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Dore Gold Guardian of Zion award 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, received on Monday night the Guardian of Zion Award presented annually by Bar-Ilan University’s Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies.
The presentation, in its 15th year, was made by Ingeborg Rennert of New York, in the presence of leading Israeli intellectuals, academics, political figures, community activists, members of the business community and philanthropists, at a gala ceremony at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel.
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Before the official ceremony, Gold delivered the annual Distinguished Rennert Lecture, which given his history and the nature of the award, was unsurprisingly titled “Defending Israel’s Rights to Jerusalem.”
“Keeping Jerusalem open for all faiths is a historical responsibility of the State of Israel. Yet, Jerusalem has been at the heart of a great internal debate in Israel and the Jewish world more broadly,” Gold said. “Many with a more particularistic orientation understand its reunification in 1967 as part of the national renewal of a people who had faced centuries of exile and even attempted genocide just a few decades earlier,” he continued.
“It is where Jews first restored a clear-cut majority back in 1863 at a time when the world began to recall and recognize their historical rights and title. Jerusalem was the meeting point between the nation’s ancient history and its modern revival.”
Turning from the particular to the universal, Gold remarked that those with a more universalistic view make a priority of integrating the modern State of Israel with the world community by using Jerusalem as a bargaining chip in a peace process presently under the auspices of the EU, Russia, the UN and the US.
“In fact, the elaborate international ceremonies of world leaders orchestrated around the signing of each peace accord in the 1990s were intended to remind Israelis that their international acceptance as well as the normalization of their relations with their Arab neighbors was tied to this very diplomatic process.”
In relating to the clash between the particularistic instincts inside Israel and its universalistic hopes that has been at the heart of the country’s political debate for four decades, Gold noted that “Jerusalem is where these two national instincts converge; for by protecting Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, the State of Israel also serves a universal mission of keeping the holy city truly free and accessible for peoples of all faiths.”
Taking as balanced an approach as possible, Gold said, “Particularists will have to understand that there are other religious groups with a stake in the future of the Holy City, while universalists will have to internalize that they have a great national legacy worth protecting for the world and that conceding it would condemn it to total uncertainty at best.”
Since the Six Day War, Gold noted that access to the Jerusalem has grown, new religious seminaries have been built, holy shrines have been restored and “Jerusalem’s ancient heritage has been unveiled as never before.” He said many of Jerusalem’s visitors has included “peace-loving pilgrims from every continent,” including from countries with which Israel has no diplomatic relations.
“What should now be clear is that no other state or international body can truly protect the peace, freedom and religious pluralism of the Holy City for all mankind. Rather than fight against the unity of Jerusalem, the world community should come forward to embrace it,” he said.
Gold also cited the legal opinions of a number of expert scholars, whom he described as giants of international law, who have written that Israel has more legal right to a united Jerusalem than anyone else.

People singled out for the Guardian of Zion Award are chosen because they have “dedicated their lives to the perpetuation and strengthening of Jerusalem.”
The first honoree was Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel.
Gold, who served as Israeli ambassador to the UN from 1997-1999, has written extensively on Jerusalem, as well as on Israel and the Middle East in general. He has served as an adviser to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during both his terms of office, and was an adviser to former prime minister Ariel Sharon.
Gold has also been a member of, or adviser to, several important Israeli delegations to the US and Europe.