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!
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • 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.