“Jerusalem Is Not To Be Divided,” Herut
This article which appeared in the newspaper Herut in 1949 deals with the comments of Rabbi Meir Bar-Ilan (Berlin) on the status of Jerusalem. Rabbi Bar-Ilan explained that after the UN Partition Plan of November 29, 1947, he had concurred with the UN decision that Jerusalem should be under international rule with control ceded to neither the Israelis nor the Arab countries. However, in this article, he detailed his change of mind and current belief that Jerusalem should be under Israeli control. His reasons for this were two-fold: first, while the original agreement had been for an international peace force to control Jerusalem, nothing had been done to defend the Jews of the city; and second, certain Western leaders were now disregarding the agreement and encouraging not international but Arab control of Jerusalem.
Bar-Ilan stressed that Israel is part of Jerusalem and not the reverse and that its holiness dictates its centrality to the State of Israel. He also stated that Israel is best placed to safeguard the holy places and to give full equality to the Arab residents of Jerusalem
Following the ceasefire in 1949, the Lausanne Conference attempted to once again establish Jerusalem as an international city. Israel rejected this, preferring an Arab and Jewish division between East and West Jerusalem.
Rabbi Meir Bar-Ilan was one of the foremost religious Zionist leaders at the time, after whom Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan is named. This article was published in the Herut newspaper which was owned by the major right-wing Herut party.
Jewish Studies teachers can use this resource to discuss the position of Jerusalem in Jewish literature throughout the ages. Higher-level classes can focus on the Mishnaic Tractate Kiddushin which allocates ten levels of holiness to the Land of Israel, nine of which are in Jerusalem.
History teachers can use this article to examine the aftermath of the War of Independence and the international conference which was held at Lausanne to discuss the future of Jerusalem.
Jewish History teachers can use this article when discussing Zionist leaders at the time of the establishment of the State of Israel.
Which newspaper printed this article?
When was this article printed?
What event is the article about?
What is the title of this article?
What is Rabbi Bar-Ilan’s claim?
What reasons does Rabbi Bar-Ilan give to support his claim?
According to this article, had Rabbi Bar-Ilan always thought this way? If not, what made him change his mind?
Reading Between the Lines
What was the UN decision regarding Jerusalem in 1947?
What changed regarding this situation following the War of Independence?
What did the Lausanne Conference of 1949 try to achieve?
Why did Rabbi Bar-Ilan appear before the United Nations Conciliation Commission?
What was he looking to achieve?
After all of these resolutions, conflicts, and commissions, what was the political situation in Jerusalem in the years following 1948?
Who was Rabbi Meir Bar-Ilan?
What do you think was the significance of his statements?
What was Rabbi Bar-Ilan’s view about access to the holy places of all religions and nations?
Rabbi Bar-Ilan referred to the importance of Jerusalem to all of the Jewish people.
What do you feel about Jerusalem? Do you feel the same towards this city as you do to other cities around the world?
Rabbi Bar-Ilan expressed Israel’s commitment to guaranteeing other races and nationalities free access to their holy places.
Do you think that Israel honours this commitment today?
Rabbi Bar-Ilan also expressed a commitment to equal rights for the Arab population of Israel.
What is the current situation in Israel?
Do Arabs citizens of Israel have equal rights? Are they discriminated against? In what ways?
Organise a debate for and against establishing international law and rule in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Bar-Ilan announced before the United Nations Conciliation Commission in Jerusalem:
Jerusalem Cannot Be Divided
Much blood will be spilled if they try to appoint a foreign ruler in the Old City of Jerusalem. Foreign rule over Jerusalem, which is all Jewish, should not even be considered, declared Rav Meir Bar Ilan yesterday before the UN Conciliation Commission in Jerusalem.
The Land of Israel, continued Rabbi Bar Ilan, is part of Jerusalem and not the other way around. Jerusalem is holy to all the Jewish People, to all of the Jewish diaspora; its holiness cannot be divided and therefore the city too cannot be divided. All of Jerusalem, both the old and the new as one, should be included in the State of Israel.
He was originally in favour of international status but is now opposed
I was indeed in favour of the establishment of international rule in Jerusalem after the UN decision of November 29, 1947, but I have since changed my mind for two reasons. A) According to the initial agreement, there was to be an international police force in Jerusalem to keep the peace. But this was not to be. A vicious enemy laid siege to Jerusalem and bombed the city, but the nations of the world did not lift a finger to save Jerusalem. It was the Jews of Jerusalem themselves who saved the city, sanctifying it with the blood of their sons.
The second reason for my change of mind was that the Count Bernadotte suggested giving the city to the Arabs. If it could be given to the Arabs, why could it not be a Jewish city?
And regarding the holy sites, we Jews can be their most trusted guardians, guaranteeing full access to these sites to people of all nations and religions.
One of the members of the commission asked what would be with the Arabs of the Old City. Rabbi Bar Ilan answered: “They will enjoy complete equal rights with no discrimination.”