Battle for Jerusalem Set Stage for Half-Century of Conflict

Eyewitness Saw Fractious History Unfold on Temple Mount

Fresh Off Boat: Five days after arriving in Israel, Abraham Rabinovich, center, found himself on the newly conquered Temple Mount in Jerusalem in 1967.
courtesy of abraham rabinowitz
Fresh Off Boat: Five days after arriving in Israel, Abraham Rabinovich, center, found himself on the newly conquered Temple Mount in Jerusalem in 1967.

By Abraham Rabinovich

Published May 08, 2013, issue of May 31, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

Soldiers roamed the compound like tourists but were barred by sentries from entering Al-Aqsa or the Dome of the Rock. Two privates found the door to the Dome of the Rock temporarily unguarded late in the afternoon. They made their way to a balcony beneath the dome and tested the acoustics by speaking to each other from opposite ends. At one point, a third voice drifted up from the mosque floor. It was the paratroop commander, Motta Gur, summoning them down. An Israeli flag that had been hung from the top of the golden dome was ordered removed by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, who had arrived later. He would, in a few days, order de facto jurisdiction of the Mount restored to the Muslim authorities.

In storerooms at the northern end of the Mount, a dozen soldiers poked through crates of weapons until they uncovered boxes of soft drinks. As they sat on a terrace drinking, they spoke with a foreign reporter about the Jordanians they had met in battle. “They were good,” one said, “but we were better.”

Despite the bewildering speed of events, the soldiers had plainly given thought to the political implications of the battle. “They can have all the rest back,” one said, “but not our holy city.” Anther spoke of keeping all or part of the territory captured in Sinai and the West Bank. (The battle for the Golan had not yet begun.) “They started the war.” One soldier advocated returning all the territory captured, including Arab Jerusalem, in exchange for peace. In this random discussion on the Mount before the last shots were fired, the template for the major positions that would occupy the political arena in the coming half-century (and counting) was laid out.

Abraham Rabinovich is the author of “The Battle for Jerusalem: An Unintended Conquest”, and of “The Yom Kippur War: The Epic Encounter That Transformed the Middle East (Shocken, 2004)


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.