Jerusalem View Photo credit: Michael Kriegal-www.flickr.com
Viewpoints-An Esra panel discussion
"Forty years since the Six Day War and Reunited Jerusalem" was the recent title of a Viewpoints evening organized by Esra. The evening was opened by Danny Bloch, moderator, noting that Naomi Shemer's prophetic song, Jerusalem of Gold, was sung by Shuli Natan just two weeks prior to the Six Day War. We were then entertained by the duo, Iris and Uzi, singing Israeli songs that touched the hearts and souls of our people during so many traumatic periods of our recent history.
Many of us who attended this Esra Viewpoints panel discussion that pitted Lova Eliav, a leading personality of the Israeli Peace Movement and Israel Harel, a journalist and spokesperson for the Judea and Samaria settlement movement, may have anticipated an evening of political fireworks or perhaps even acrimony, but instead we were treated to personal reminiscences and respectful dialogue.
Although both men clearly articulated their opposing ideological positions vis-a-vis Israel and the Palestinian conundrum they also emphasized their appreciation and respect for each other's contributions and achievements in nation building, focusing primarily on their deep and abiding commitment to Zionism and to Israel's future.
Lova Eliav, a former Secretary General of the Labor Party, founder of the Lachish area, the city of Arad and the Nitzana Youth Village, and an Israel Prize recipient, described his involvement in the 'illegal' immigration movement during the pre-state period and his close association with Levi Eshkol and their heroic efforts to house and feed the thousands of immigrants pouring into the nascent State of Israel.
Israel Harel, a paratrooper during the Six Day War, depicted the events that had led to a change in the Six Day War strategy. He explained how the army's original Jerusalem defensive strategy had evolved into the army going on the offensive and unifying Jerusalem and, as Harel put it, 'correcting an historic effort.' He also portrayed vividly and emotionally how he had stood on the Temple Mount and watched the flag of Israel being hoisted over the Jewish people's holiest site while gazing down at the Western Wall.
Eliav and Harel both outlined their vision for a solution to the present complex political situation; Eliav opting for a federation of Palestine with Jordan and Harel suggesting that a viable Palestinian state, even larger that Israel, could be established in the Sinai.
The discussion that followed was spirited and added to the vibrant evening of deferential and respectful dissent.