Everyday life in an extraordinary place.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Road to Jerusalem

This Postcard from Israel was originally written on 6 June 2005.

Jerusalem Day marks the anniversary of the reunification of the city in June of 1967. Prior to that time, the city was divided into Jewish and Arab-controlled sections, with the Old City included in the area controlled by the Arabs. This year, Jerusalem Day (which is observed according to the Hebrew date) will be celebrated on June 6th. While the reunification of Jerusalem was and remains a joyous occasion, I find my thoughts turning to an earlier conflict, and to the struggle for access to the city itself.

If you have ever driven to Jerusalem along Highway 1, you have likely seen the remains of armored vehicles along the roadside, and the monument above, which celebrates and remembers those who broke through the Arab blockade of Jerusalem in 1948. After ten years living in Israel, and hundreds of trips past this marker, I finally stopped to take a closer look.

This map shows the approaches to Jerusalem and the sites of the many battles that were fought in 1948. We also saw the remains of a wreath laid here during this year's Yom HaZikaron ceremony. While the history in itself was of great interest to me, it was fascinating to locate the sites where my father-in-law, then a soldier in the Palmach, fought. While before, when traveling on this road, I would give a passing thought to those who fought and died there, now I will also remember those who, like my father-in-law, fought and lived to bear sons who then went on to fight in other wars.

Though he was just a child during the Six Day War, my husband has many vivid memories of that conflict: enemy planes flying overhead, hiding under the cover of the family's orange groves, and hearing on the radio* that the kotel (Western Wall) was once again in the hands of the Jews.

*Television broadcasts didn't begin in Israel until 1968.

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