On the 6th December 2017 President Donald Trump breaking with the traditional neutrality announced that the United States considers Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel although both the Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their political capital and as a religious site.
Since its foundation 5.000 years ago, the historical city has undergone a tumultuous past. Actually King David of the Jews that ruled the city for about 500 years before it was conquered by the Babylonians made Jerusalem as his capital around 1000 BC. The Romans occupied the city in 65 BC. In 66 AD the Jews revolted against the harsh Roman rule. The city was rebuilt in the 300s AD by Emperor Constantine, the first Christian Roman emperor, after it was destroyed by another Roman emperor Titus. In 637 AD the Muslim Arabs conquered the city. Subsequently, Christian Crusaders, the Turks and finally the British occupied Jerusalem in the hundred of years before 1948 when independent Israel was established with Jerusalem as the seat of government and proclaimed capital.
In 1980 Israel passed the “Jerusalem Law”, stating that Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel although the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution in 1980, declaring the law null and void. However, the state’s sovereignty over Jerusalem is not recognised internationally. Not to be confused as the country’s capital Tel Aviv, where most of the foreign embassies are located, becomes the economic , financial and technology hub of Israel.
One of the oldest, one of the holiest and also one of the most disputed cities in existence, Jerusalem is also known as “The City of Peace”. The Hebrew name of the city is “Yerushalayim” which comes from two words – “Ir” and “Shalem”. Ir means city and shalem comes from “Shalom”, meaning peace.
Located on a plateau in the Judean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea with more than 800,000 people, Jerusalem today is a “fascinating mixture of old and new, East and West”.
The historical area of the city now called the “Old City” of 0.9 sq. kms. surrounded by monumental defensive stone walls built in the years 1535 – 1542 by Turkish Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent has been traditionally divided into four neighbourhood quarters which are named according to the ethnic affiliation of most of the people living in them as the Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Armenian quarters. The Old City is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
My wife Carmelita and myself together with the rest of our Holy Land pilgrimage group under the spiritual guidance of Msgr. Jan Majernik from Yugoslavia visited the Old City be entering the Damascus Gate, the busiest and one of the 11 gates (only 7 are open), leading us straight into the heart of the Old City bustling market called “souk”, a great place to bargain for clothings, sweets and spices, fruits, and souvenirs. Walking though the narrow cobblestone streets and alleys of the Old City we’re mesmerized in history!