Excerpts From Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Jerusalem Day Speech
For Zion’s sake, I will not be silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be still, until her righteousness emanates like bright light, and her salvation blazes like a torch” (Isa. 62:1). I chose to begin my remarks honoring Jerusalem with this verse because the struggle for Jerusalem is a struggle for truth—nothing more and nothing less.
There can be no justice without truth. The truth is Jerusalem is the very air our people breathe. We have an unbreakable bond with Jerusalem––one that has lasted over 3,000 years. We have never relinquished that bond. We did not relinquish it when the Temple was destroyed the first time; we did not relinquish it when the Temple was destroyed the second time; we did not relinquish this bond at any point thereafter. Sixty years after the second Temple was destroyed, the people of Israel rose up and fought again, and even then we did not relinquish that bond.
We remained devoted to Jerusalem, and we preserved Zion. The entire land and people make up this word, this concept called Zion. We did not give up!
For 2,000 years we have been saying, “We are in exile.” We have not been in exile for 2,000 years; even this is not true. We continued to live here. Where did the Rabban Gamliel work? In Sweden? Where were his wonderful writings composed? In Israel. In the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries, the people of Israel were a majority in the land of Israel. The Jews were a majority through the ninth century, and this majority was only lost after 200 years of Arab conquest––and even then we did not relinquish our bond.
Every year we said, “Next year in Jerusalem.” This aspiration––to return to Jerusalem and live and build there––has been an integral part of the people of Israel for thousands of years. And we again became a majority in this city, our city, in the mid-19th century.
We are not banishing anyone; we are not removing anyone; because the second half of the truth is that no other people has the connection the people of Israel have with Jerusalem and Zion. No other people allowed other religions freedom of worship and access to the holy places other than the people of Israel. When we renewed our hold over all parts of the city, we renewed freedom of worship and allowed members of all religions to pray and follow their faith under Israeli sovereignty.
Now there is an attempt to paint us as foreign invaders, as conquerors, as a people with no connection to this place. Our response is, No other people has such a bond with its capital as the Jewish people do with Jerusalem.
I asked Rabbi Lau how many times Jerusalem or Zion is mentioned in the Book of Books. The answer is over 700 times. Over 700!
Compare this with the holy books of other religions. Nothing comes close. There is no such bond between a people and its capital. We will continue to absorb immigrants there, and we will continue transforming it into a vibrant city.
Our future is based on our past, and our past creates our future. Only in Jerusalem is this demonstrated in a tangible and important way. “Merciful Father, do good in Your favor unto Zion; build the walls of Jerusalem” (Ps. 51:18).
We are blessed to be the generation that witnessed the redemption of Israel and its revival, and there is nothing and no one that will stand in the way of this resurrection. We will continue to develop our city, which has been united; and we will continue to tell the truth.
If there is one thing I believe in, it is that God would never lie. Thank you.