“The Temple Mount is in Our Hands!”
Last week was sublime. A Jubilee moment for me (and that’s from a good Southern Baptist boy).
I was in Israel, my seventh trip to the Jewish state, and as I made travel plans prior, it occurred to me I would be there the very week of the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War. Also, as it happened, I was scheduled to be in Jerusalem on Wednesday, June 7.
The day the IDF captured Jerusalem’s Old City in 1967.
Most of my time was spent in Tel Aviv, but on Wednesday, I went “up to Jerusalem,” passing various places of biblical interest along the way. By the time we entered the rocky hills around the ancient capital, I was pressing my face to the car window again.
I engaged a cab driver in conversation as we drove close to the Old City; he was dropping me at Jaffa Gate.
(2017 is a year of wonderful anniversaries for Israel. In addition to the Six Day War, it is the centennial of the British takeover of Palestine from the Ottoman Turks. That battlefield victory paved the way for the establishment of Israel a generation later.)
“What were you doing 50 years ago today?” I asked. The driver was an older gentleman.
“I was here, a paratrooper.” I was now listening intently.
“We were fighting in the Sinai, and they pulled us out to come back here in order to take the Old City. Afterward, I was sent back. By Friday morning, I was swimming in the Suez Canal!”
Wow. Israel’s citizen soldiers, from the prime minister to the cab driver, were filled with pride this month. In a war forced on them by hate-filled regional dictators, Israel captured all the biblical heartland, from Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. From the Sinai, where Moses once walked, to the Golan Heights and the region of several tribes of Israel, the Jewish state greatly increased its land area.
Another bonus from my trip was visiting with my good friend, Brian Schrauger (www.jerusalemjournal.net), the only independent, on-the-ground reporter who would identify as a Christian Zionist. His reporting and research skills are without peer. He also proved to be a great guide, even though I’d been to Jerusalem many times.
After stopping at Golden Gate (where Ezekiel tells us the Messiah will enter in the last days), we made our way to Lion’s Gate. This was the entry point for Israeli paratroopers on June 7, 1967, as they raced to secure the Old City.
At Ben Gurion Airport, I picked up a copy of the Jerusalem Report, which featured the Six Day War. Inside were several inspiring stories, including one in which an officer listened as Gen. Uzi Narkiss and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan discussed the best entry point the day before the assault against Jordanian League positions.
“Why don’t you go in Lion’s Gate?” Dayan asked off-handedly. Narkiss and other planners had not considered it (Lion’s Gate is on the east side, opposite the Mount of Olives); four other gates were possibilities.
Narkiss was impressed.
“Moshe, since the time of King David until now, no one has conquered Jerusalem from the east.”
Dayan stared intently.
“Then this will be the second time and the last time.”
The next morning, approval was given for the IDF to attack Jordanian positions. By mid-morning, paratroopers had raced onto the Temple Mount. Not since the time of the Maccabees in the second century B.C. had the Jews been in control of the area. It had been the dream of every generation since to liberate Jerusalem.
Brian and I walked through Lion’s Gate and not far down the narrow alley, looked to the left toward another alley that ends with a large doorway, straight onto the Temple Mount.
We were not allowed onto the Temple Mount, because we have to defer to Arab sensibilities due to Ramadan.
It infuriates me. A Christian pilgrim (and Jewish worshippers) cannot enter a holy site because the world is afraid of making Muslims mad.
That is grotesque.
Being in Jerusalem on the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War was one of the great moments of my life.
The city is Israel’s eternal capital. Praise be to God.