For centuries, the Hurva Synagogue bore witness to the Jewish story in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Built in the 1700s, it was destroyed in 1772; rebuilt in the next century, it would serve as a Jerusalem landmark until its destruction by Jordan in the 1948 War of Independence.
Modern-day visitors knew it best for the haunting memorial that marked the site — a lone arch defining the space where its dome once soared and reminding viewers of Jewish resilience.
This month, a rebuilt Hurva was rededicated, and became the pretext for a series of violent protests by Palestinians. Palestinian leaders called on Arabs to descend on Jerusalem and “defend” the Temple Mount — a bizarre and opportunistic coupling of a fiercely disputed hot spot with a synagogue that is hundreds of yards and a daunting climb away. Arabs burned tires and hurled stones throughout the city Tuesday morning. The media began its ritualistic prediction of a “Third Intifada.”
As the diplomatic uproar over Israel’s plans to build 1,600 housing units in east Jerusalem proves, Jerusalem is the crucial seam in the bitter divide between Jews and Palestinians. No reasonable conception of a two-state solution ignores Jerusalem, nor pretends that there can be a peaceful future without an equitable plan for coexistence in the holy city. Israel will one day be expected to recognize a Palestinian capital in parts of what Israel now defines as the Jerusalem municipality. Yet Palestinian complaints about Jewish “encroachment” ring hollow when their leaders refuse to acknowledge even the least controversial Jewish claims to sites in Jerusalem.
The Hurva soars again, along with the hopes of the Jewish people. One hope is that a Palestinian leadership will emerge that will acknowledge the truth of Jewish history. Unfortunately, Palestinians keep acting in ways that seem to ensure that history will pass them by.