In a Dec. 3 letter, Sanford Kluger attacked my assertion of the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jewish people for thousands of years. He did so on the basis of well-known conquests of the region by empires whose armies seized the territory periodically.
However, the mighty Roman army had to fight a difficult war against a Jewish population defending its land, including its holy temple in Jerusalem. When Roman armies arrived, Jerusalem had been a Jewish city for over 1,000 years – from the time of David, as Mr. Kluger correctly informs us. After the conquest the Romans did not declare Jerusalem their capital. They already had one called Rome. No other conquerors before or since claimed it as their capital. They considered the area a colony.
The Greeks wanted to wipe out Jewish religion and culture. At that time there was a Jewish temple that furnished the leadership to fight back and prevail. To commemorate that event we celebrate Chanukah. Subsequently a Jewish kingdom ruled the land.
These great empires are gone but the Jewish people survived and continued to revere Jerusalem no matter who occupied their city. I stress the word “occupied.” They continued to express their loyalty to Jerusalem in tradition, custom, and prayer for centuries.
Passover seders end with the words “next year in Jerusalem.” At weddings bridegrooms break a glass to remember the destroyed temple. During the years Jews were scattered in other lands, many returned to Jerusalem despite difficulties and life-threatening dangers. No other people has this history of attachment to Jerusalem. Why seek to deny it?
Finally, a correction: Mr. Kluger stated that I “contend” that Arabs did not reside in the city before 1948. 1 did not write that. They were there and interacted with Jews. Was this inserted for history or contemporary politics?