Marching For Jerusalem!

UPDATE 10 am Israel time, Friday October 5, 2012:

As you can see from the israelstreet breaking news ticker, Palestinian terrorism has taken many forms since last evening from an outburst of rock and Molotov cocktail throwing at Israeli motorists and security personnel in Judea and Samaria to the firing of a Qassam missile against the men, women, and children of southern Israel.  


Special Comment on the first American presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney:

After watching a recording of the debate yesterday evening upon returning from Jerusalem (it was broadcast here in Israel at 3 am in the morning), your humble servant clearly thought that Romney was sharper, more concise, and more in command of his information. Obama seemed like his usual self–giving long, detailed, and often meandering answers to questions (when he actually answered).

More than this, one cannot help but notice how the public perception of  Obama has changed. What would have been instantly embraced four years ago by people enamored with Obama’s charisma, is not as uncritically accepted anymore –especially in the face of Romney’s more realistic, less “kumbaya-esque” approach. The halo over Obama’s head and the glazed-over look in people’s eyes when listening to him, seem to have disappeared.

What does all of this have to do with Israel?    

A week ago in this blog, your humble servant quoted Israel’s pre-eminent historian Benny Morris as saying that the Palestinians have no interest in peace: “the goals of the Palestinian national movement [are] to extinguish the Jewish national project and to inherit all of Palestine for the Arabs and Islam.”

You may recall that when U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney was in Jerusalem back in July, he ignited a firestorm of protest by stating that the Palestinians have no interest in peace. For saying this, he was castigated in the international media and by President Obama for having committed a foreign policy “gaffe”.

This morning, the Jerusalem Post has published the results of a reader poll that asked the question (paraphrased): “What do you think of Mitt Romney’s assertion that Palestinians have no interest in peace?”

Here were the possible responses and the percentage of Jerusalem Post readers who agreed with a particular response:

O Displays his lack of foreign policy savvy and diplomatic finesse (5.08%)

O Is a welcome articulation of the realistic state of the peace process (89.33%)

O Is likely just campaign talk and not necessarily indicative of what he’d do if elected (4.90%)

O I’m not sure (0.7%)

For all intents and purposes, when it comes to Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians, it appears that Benny Morris, Mitt Romney, the Israeli public, and your humble servant are all in complete agreement. 



It was another glorious day in Israel yesterday.

Up at 6:00 am here in Ashdod, we were in Jerusalem one hour (and 50 miles) later where we met up with an estimated 100,000 Israeli flag waving people for the annual Jerusalem March–the purpose of which is to show solidarity with Israel’s eternal capital.

The March is actually three marches, each with different routes and distances. Last year, we marched the “moderate distance (8 km) and difficulty route” which took us from the top of Mt. Scopus in eastern Jerusalem down through Solomon’s Gardens along the valley between the Mt. of Olives and the eastern wall of the Old City. From there we ascended to the Dung Gate and Mt. Zion–and then out into western Jerusalem.

This year we decided to take the “long distance (15 km) and most difficult” route. By 7:30 am we had taken a special “March” bus from in front of the Jerusalem Bus Station to the March start point–in Kipod (Porcupine) Park in the northwestern Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot (close to Ma’ale Adumim). From this point on, I will let some pictures I took tell a part of the story:

Kipod Park in Ramot--a neighborhood to the north and west of the city center, but absurdly classified as "East Jerusalem" by the international community. Note that Ramot is surrounded by forest containing much wildlife including porcupines--which have been highlighted by the play structure in the park. The marcher you see is holding the map given by March organizers.

And it is through the forest that the trail begins. The sheer exultation of being involved in a huge endeavor in support of Israel is hard to describe. There is a camaraderie among the marchers that you have to experience for yourself:

Most of the walkers in the march carried Israeli flags--and a lot of water.

Israeli flags, people dressed in blue and white, people singing Israeli songs  . . . it is all part of the Jerusalem March experience.

And the trail continues toward the west. Note the building on top of the mountain in the distance that looks like a parking garage or office building. It is the Givat Shaul cemetery--one can be buried on level one, two, etc. . .

Yesterday’s walk gives one a sense of the expansiveness and diversity of Jerusalem. Sometimes, in our focus on the Temple Mount and the Old City, we forget Jerusalem’s intense natural beauty. Yet, we must always remember that this is Israel, and Palestinian terrorism can happen at any time.

All along the way were two-man contingents of Border Police.

But most of the way on this walk, there is nothing but blue sky, wild flowers, and grapes (note the ones on the left of the path below):

The municipal boundaries of Jerusalem are extensive. You may think you are out for a walk in the countryside--but you are walking in Jerusalem.

History is everywhere. Note the sign announcing Enot Telem below. The Second Temple, the anti-Jewish riots of 1929 . . . :

The path goes through national and municipal forests and parks. Note that the sign for Enot Telem National Park is in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the March were the extraordinary cohorts of workers who were marching (literally). For example, whole departments of the Israel Electric Corporation marched in front and behind us carrying banners and flags and singing Palmach and Haganah songs from 1948.  It was very moving:

A battalion of marchers from the Israel Electric Corporation.

And there was an extraordinary number of young families with young children who amazingly made the steep climbs as the path continued to “semicircle” the city:

World famous Hadassah Hospital on top of another mountain.

But the last 8 kilometers were tough as the trail went up and down mountains ending with two especially steep climbs up to Ein Kerem, down the hill again, then up to Mt. Herzl passing in the vicinity Yad Vashem.

The path descends before a sharp ascent into Ein Kerem.

By the time the March was over (5 hours later), it is fair to say that almost everyone was exhausted and exhilarated. We felt like we had done something for Jerusalem and for Israel–and made a lot of friends in the process.

But you don’t have to come to Israel or Jerusalem to do something for Jerusalem or for Israel. Organize an Israel event in your own town or city, host an Israeli speaker, start planning now for an Israeli Independence Day celebration next April! 

What have you done for Israel today?

A daily feature of this blog is the recognition of those of you who support Israel by donating to this website. Each month, your humble servant places each name on this wall of support into the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Today we are highlighting “Mika from Helsinki”:


To have your own Israeli flag, simply follow two steps:

Step 1: Click on the “Support Israel Street! Donate” button in the right hand column and submit your information.

Step 2: Send an email to with the following information:

Your name (or location):

The donation that you made (for purposes of identifying you):

A. A donation of $10 puts your flag on this website for one month

B. A donation of $20 puts your flag on this website for two months

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