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Girding for War
by Judy Lash Balint
June 6, 2001

Thirty-four years ago today, Jerusalem witnessed some of the most decisive battles of the Six Day War. On June 6, 1967, Israeli troops captured most of eastern Jerusalem outside the city walls in order to stop Arab attacks against Jewish vehicles from the neighborhoods of Abu Tor, Silwan, Sheik Jarrah and French Hill. The fierce battle of Ammunition Hill was fought on this date thirty-four years ago.

Today, it felt as if the citizens of Jerusalem were girding themselves for battle once more.

At a massive prayer vigil called by the country's leading rabbis, tens of thousands of concerned Israelis jammed the plaza in front of the Western Wall to cry out for God's mercy in these dreadful times. The crowd filled almost every corner of the holy site.

Led by prominent Sephardic and Ashkenazic rabbis, the throng stood for more than ninety minutes, reciting prayers from a four page sheet passed through the crowd. Several of the prayers were taken from the Yom Kippur ritual, emphasizing the gravity of the occasion.

But the shofar blasts heard tonight were not so much calling us to an inner accounting-rather they proclaimed the gathering of the tribe and its readiness to engage, with God's help, in another battle against those who would destroy us.

The latest tragedy, a 5 month old baby barely clinging to life after a rock was hurled at his head while he traveled in a car last night with his young parents, makes clear the need to bring the present situation to an end.

On the road winding from Dung Gate to Sultan's Pools, soldiers were stationed every fifty yards or so. One group had stopped several young Arabs who could be clearly seen standing over a pile of rocks.

Many of those who gathered at the Wall made their way into town to take part in the demonstration organized by the YESHA council and other right wing groups. The slogan on the banner framing the podium was "Let's Beat Arafat."

Organizers were careful to point out that this was not an anti-Sharon protest, but an anti-Arafat demonstration. Speakers included Moshe Arens, Effie Eitam and Yitzhak Levy. Eitam, a former high level army officer who resigned in protest over policies of the Barak administration, threatened that if Prime Minister Sharon will not change his policy of restraint, "we'll have to find someone else will do it."

There is no more talk of peace here. Arafat, Fatah and Hamas have made it abundantly clear to all but the most obtuse, wishful-thinking, far leftists, that their hatred of Jews knows no bounds. When infants, as well as teens at a disco are targets, the writing is on the wall.

In 1967 Israeli leaders knew what they had to do. Today, the people are ready. Let's hope our current leaders get the message.