A story is told of Natan Sharansky, before he was arrested in the former Soviet Union for the crime of studying Judaism and wanting to emigrate to Israel. On July 14, 1978, Sharansky stood before a Soviet court about to sentence him to fifteen years in prison and said, “For 2,000 years the Jewish people, my people, have been dispersed all over the world and seemingly deprived of any hope of returning. But still, each year Jews have stubbornly, and apparently without reason, said to each other, ‘L’shana ha’bah b’Yirusholayim, Next Year in Jerusalem.’ And today, when I am further than ever from my dream, from my people, and from my [wife] Avital, and when many difficult years of prison and camps lie ahead of me, I say to my wife and to my people, L’shana ha’baah b’Yirusholayim—Next Year in Jerusalem.”
For 3,000 years, the eternal city of Jerusalem has held the most exalted position in the Jewish religion and a place of unparalleled importance in Jewish life and history. Jews worldwide pray facing Jerusalem. In the daily prayers, Jews pray and say: “And to Jerusalem Your city, return in mercy, and dwell in it as You have proclaimed. And build it, soon, in our days—an eternal building.” And, in the blessings at the conclusion of a meal are the words, “Blessed are You God, for the land, and for the sustenance … And build Jerusalem, the holy city, soon in our days.’
And yet today, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denied there was any Jewish connection to Jerusalem. “Jerusalem’s identity is Arab…and there will be neither peace nor security until the Israeli occupation, settlements, and settlers leave the city.” Abbas concluded that “there will be no peace or stability before our beloved city and eternal capital is liberated from occupation and settlement.”
He makes it quite clear by this statement that there’s no room for Jews – andamongst many others, American doctor Irving Moskowitz has asked “If Jews can live in Tokyo or Chicago, Paris or Melbourne – then why not all areas of Jerusalem?“
As Cherna Moskowitz has said previously: “This seems to be a continuation of a 2,000-year-old habit of Jews being told where they can and cannot live. This spanned from the ghettos of medieval Europe, to severe zoning restrictions in czarist Russia and finally to the edicts of Nazism, where we were eventually told that we could not live at all. Can it be possible that we will accept any part of that today in our own nation? Jews should be able to live anywhere in the world. The question should be: “Is the purchase legal and are the permits in order?” Not “what faith do the families living there follow?”
Ronn Torossian is an entrepreneur, author and philanthropist.