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'I Was Touching the Rock of Ages': Netanyahu Recalls Boyhood Battle for Jerusalem


This week marked the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Israel, which only came about after Israel's enemies tried to annihilate her during the Six-Day War.

To celebrate the historic milestone, prominent leaders gathered on Capitol Hill Wednesday evening.

The event included House Speaker Paul Ryan, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, U.S. governors, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others who joined by satellite. 

Dermer used his time on the stage to remind the audience of King David and Israel's long history. 

"King David chose Jerusalem as his capital to unite the tribes of Israel. Today a reunited Jerusalem once again serves to unite Jews to Israel and across the world, but it is not the Jewish people alone who have reason to celebrate today, under Israel's sovereignty, the Jewish and Arab residents of Jerusalem co-exist in an open, diverse and vibrant city, Dermer said. 

"If there is a country outside of Israel that appreciates what Jerusalem means to both Jews and non-Jews alike, it is the United States of America," he added. 

Speaker Paul Ryan also spoke about Israel's historical strides and America's loyalty to the nation of Israel that continues today. 

"Our commitment to Israel dates back to President Harry Truman, who recognized the state within minutes of her declaring her independence. It is that legacy, one that has been tried and tested over the years that we are here to reaffirm that today," Ryan said. 

"There is something so special about Jerusalem," he added. 

Governors across the U.S. then shared their thoughts on the anniversary. 

Arkansas Gov. William Asa Hutchinson boldly declared Jerusalem to be the eternal capital of Israel. 

"And still today Jerusalem remains the eternal capital of Israel. A monument of the Jewish people's love for their ancient homeland," he said. 

Toward the end of the event, Prime Minister Netanyahu shared his touching story of experiencing the Six-Day War firsthand during his youth. 

"It is a pleasure to address you from Jerusalem the eternal, undivided capital of the Jewish state of Israel. Now why do I say Jerusalem will never be divided again? Because I remember what is was like when it was divided." 

Netanyahu grew up in the middle of a war zone, and says he distinctly remembers the bombs and violence surrounding his home as a child. 

"As I grew up in the city there were places we couldn't walk because there were snipers on the walls and they shot occasionally. It was a wounded, divided city that had no future," he said.

"And then on the fifth of June I woke up to a resounding noise in my home in Jerusalem and I climbed up on the roof, and I could see the bombs bursting on the ground right behind us. These were shells fired from Jordan without provocation, and many many shells fell on Jerusalem, many were killed," he recalled.

Netanyahu describes the day of victory for Jerusalem like a lightning bolt. 

"Then we heard in the shelters, Colonel Motta Gur say, 'The Temple Mount is in our hands,' and it was like a lightning bolt… I can't describe it any other way," he said. 

"I remember just this spontaneous flood of people in Jerusalem, me among them, flowing through that gap and going through the alleys of the old city. One alley after another, one alley after another, and then we reach the wall, and we touched...I touched those stones, we have a common saying the rock of ages… I was touching the rock of ages and everything was coming from those stones to my fingers to my soul."

Netanyahu mentioned that the first thing on the nation's list was to make sure Jerusalem was a free city for everyone, which is something he explained, thrives and keeps the nation alive today. 

"The first thing is we ensured that Jerusalem is a free city for all… that's the first thing that we did… we made sure that the holy sites of Judaism, of Christianity, and Islam were available to all… unfettered, untouched," he said.

"This is something that can be appreciated in retrospect because look around us,understand what would happen to this…it's not even a square kilometer. What would happen to this less than a square mile if we weren't here… it would descend to horrible sectarian violence. It would descend into the worst barbarism that the world has seen since the outrages of World War II." 

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