Jerusalem Flag Dance and Parade: Real Story

Reading international headlines has made me so angry and sad.

Controversial and contentious

Bracing for violence

Israel braces for unrest ahead of right-wing Jerusalem march

Nationalist March Through Jerusalem Has Heightened Tensions Further

And those are only a few of the less disturbing headline choices for the annual Jerusalem Day – ריקודגלים Rikud Degalim – Flag Dance Parade which was postponed due to rocket attacks from Gaza.

This celebration goes back decades to remember the reunification of Jerusalem in June 1967. I walked with the Israeli flag wavers thru the Old City with the march five years ago.

Again this year, I went to see what was really happening. After days of negative hype and threats from Hamas and its affiliates, would there really be trouble and violence?

Thousands were on the streets waving Israeli flags – peacefully, though loudly at times singing, songs such as Am Yisrael Chai.

I only spotted one mask in the crowd of thousands.

But road blocks and photographers were seen throughout the route.

Waiting for the start time. Israeli time. It started later than announced.

However, the regular and foreign photographers were ready.

This was the scene on the way to Damascus Gate.

Where were all those close-up-in-your-face photos I have seen taken?

The police had large distances between the local Arab shopping area and those walking to Damascus Gate.

Plenty of Arab media was active and out on the Jerusalem streets.

The area at Damascus Gate was empty when the marchers arrived.

But filled with Israeli-flag waving, mostly young men singing and dancing.

Out of thousands, it was the one unusual one who got media attention.

Notice all the press standing on the other side of the large flag.

Here’s a short video from Damascus Gate, before moving on to Jaffa Gate.

Media reports came out as soon as possible. How accurate? You decide.

Not only wild young males participated, there were families and busloads of students, including girls who came from outside of Jerusalem.

The security was along the entire route. It seems earlier there were stones thrown at police on horses, so that would explain the eye protection, which was not needed for the Flag Parade.

I wondered how many walking realized that there were going thru what was No Man’s Land that divided Jerusalem from 1948-1967? On the right, the Old City where Jews could not go. On the left the hospital on the “border” in Jerusalem, not under Jordanian occupation.

MKs Itamar Ben-Gvir of the Otzma Yehudit party and Bezalel Smotrich head of the Religious Zionist party received media attention. However, in the crowd of marchers number two on the list Michal Woldiger was stopped multiple times for photos and by admirers.

Some Flag Parade participants joined at Jaffa Gate and did not do the walk.

The smoking and vaping is what I found upsetting.

Especially these young boys standing around and puffing away.

As the sun set, the march moved toward the Kotel, Western Wall.

The Arab market was closed and quiet, with security posted along the way.

These girls and a few press photographers in the Christian Quarter were hardly what the doomsayers predicted for the evening.

The crowd of thousands ended up at the Kotel, as usual for the end of the Flag Parade, to sing and dance, concluding with evening prayers.

More photos are presented here as a video.

Once again, I went to see what was really happening on the Jerusalem streets and missed finding trouble.

I thought the police were more polite than in the past. They honored my press pass immediately at every roadblock.

The displays of Israeli flags were impressive, plenty of blue and white.

The end of the day, it was time to go home and away from the noisy crowd.

The noisy protesters were gone from near the Prime Minister’s Residence. What a pleasure to walk undisturbed again on this Jerusalem street.

Jerusalem Day Continuing Celebrations

Jerusalem Day Continuing Celebrations

Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, in Yerushalayim, is usually a special day.

However, this year Jerusalem Day was even more special, for many reasons.

Mazel tov Netta, Mazel toy seat covers on ElAl plane

Netta mania goes on. This photo  was posted of an El Al plane for her trip back to Israel from Eurovision, winning with her song “Not Your Toy.” Notice how mazal tov, became MAZAL TOY. It was one thing for thousands to turn out in Tel Aviv to welcome her back, but I saw a video taken in Lisbon, where thousands were singing along with Netta Barzalai during the song competition, was something else.

Wow, just crazy.

Honor guard with US flag at opening of US Embassy in Jerusalem Israel

And then there was the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel. It opened with the presentation of colors by a military honor guard and a room full of US dignitaries.

David Friedman US Ambassador to Israel

US Ambassador David Friedman said, “Jerusalem, Israel” and led a live-streamed ceremony with international media coverage.

We will have to wait to see if babies born to US citizens in Jerusalem, Israel, will have that written on their US passports. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem” is what was written until now.

The celebrations, feasts and events with officials for the US Embassy opening are still going on.

Oh, Jerusalem.

View from Tower of David to Mount of Olives Jerusalem Israel

Here is one view of the Mount of Olives on Yom Yerushalayim from the top of the Tower of David.

Actors on Jerusalem Day at Tower of David

The Tower of David, open free of charge on Yom Yerushalayim, is a popular destination for celebrating the holiday. Actors dressed as historical figures, included Golda Meir.

Actors dressed as Ben Gurion and Chaim Weixmann at Tower of David on Jerusalem Day

Ben Gurion and Chaim Weizmann were near the entrance, a day for the young and not so young.

Music event on Jerusalem Day in Tower of David

Hundreds came to hear live music and be greeted by the Mayor of Jerusalem.  Oh and thank you Berman Bakery, for the fresh and free sweets all day.

Israel flag on Churva Synagogue on Jerusalem Day

The Hurva Synagogue was draped with an Israeli flag. After the morning rain, you could see the Dead Sea and Jordan in distance.

Women dressed as Israeli flag on Jerusalem Day in Jerusalem Israel

This woman took the prize for best theme outfit of the day.

Jerusalem Day celebrations on Agron Street in Jerusalem Israel

The enthusiasm, singing, and dancing of the Flag Parade filled Agron Street.

Dancing with Israeli flags on Jerusalem Day in Jerusalem Israel

This group stopped to sing and blow the shofar as they proceeded to the Kotel, Western Wall.

Erick Stakelbeck filming at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem Israel

Watchman star, Erick Stakelbeck. was filming near Jaffa Gate, with the Tower of David in the background.

Watchman Erick Stakelbeck filming near Jaffa Gate.

The crew was ready and the camera started rolling.

Jerusalem Day filming of Watchman episode by Erick Stakelbeck interrupted by boys singing

When a group of young Israelis danced on to the set and scene.  I asked if that was planned and part of the show. It was not.

Jerusalem Day Israeli boys interrupt filming of Watchman episode by Erick Stakelbeck near Jaffa Gate.

But instead of being overly upset, Stakelbeck joined, smiled and danced around for a few minutes.

Jerusalem Day street closings for Flag Parade

Some streets were blocked for the Flag Parade. This year the gathering points and route were somewhat different.

Yes, it is loud, sometimes very loud. But it is not violent, and not only young males with too much testosterone participating.

Families came to walk and watch. All ages are out on the streets. Young Israeli women were on a different and alternate street.

I did not do the whole walk as in past years. With an earlier start time, and threatening weather, the marchers were spread out and the Old City route was not as congested as in past.  Buses from around the country were arriving all afternoon.

Tens of thousands ended the march at the Kotel, Western Wall, at the end of the day as the sun set. Singing and dancing filled the plaza and overflowed.

On Jerusalem Day three Muslim girls walk in Mamilla Mall

With all of that, Arab girls were out shopping in Mamilla Mall.

Two women wearing hijab sit inside Aroma Cafe in Jerusalem Israel Mailla Mall on Jerusalem Day

Two Arab women were sitting in the Mamilla Aroma Cafe.

The violent protests along the southern border from Gaza were distressing and for Nakba Day, there are reports of new violence.

Cherry season in Israel, Machane Yehuda Market

Life may not be a bowl of cherries. But fresh cherries are piled high in the shuk, Machane Yehuda Market.

In areas under Jordanian occupation from 1948-1967, where Jews did not go, on Yom Yerushalayim there was celebrating and dancing on those streets.

There were so many other local and official celebrations, I cannot begin to list them all. The day ended with prizes, more music and fireworks at the Tower of David at night.

The Embassy of Guatemala is opening and the month of Ramadan is starting.

So much happening on Jerusalem streets.

Jerusalem Day – 45 Years United

The list of events that took place in Jerusalem

on Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, is too long to print.

"Har Hazesim photo","picture buses", "photo Yom Yerushalayim"

Thousands of people traveled by bus,

"photo bide ride","image bikes" , "picture Yom Yerushalayim"

hundreds rode bikes in from Gush Eztion

"photo flag parade","Image crowd flag parade","Picture Jerusalem"

and tens of thousands marched in the annual Flag Dance parade.

"picture Jerusalem streets", "photo Jerusalem", "image Jerusalem"

Jerusalem was a traffic nightmare with many sudden street closings.

"image Segway","photo jerusalems

 A Segway was one way to get through the sidewalk traffic.

With so many lectures, tours and varied activities available now,

people tend to forget that from 1948-1967, 

the Old City and the Kotel, the Western Wall, were under Jordanian rule.

 Jerusalem was a small, sleepy town divided by a wall and barbed wire,

a place where some Jews could not even see their former homes. 

"picture Old City walls", "photo soldiers", "Image Jerusalem"

  Jordanian snipers no longer shoot down over No Man’s-Land,

 now Israeli soldiers watch out from the walls of the Old City.

Distances are not so great,

"picture east Jerusalem","photo East Jerusalem", "Image east jerusalem"

and on a clear day Jordan is visible from the promenade of the Tayelet,

"image Al quds","photos Al Quds, "picture Al Quds"

located in an area once mostly agricultural and under British control,

"picture Al Quds", "photo Jerusaelm" "image Old City'

 but now famous for its view of the Old City Walls.

On Yom Yerushalayim I went on a walking tour of the area.

"photo UN building", "image UN Jerusalem" "picture Jerusalem"

We saw the United Nations headquarters 

'picture Jerusalem", "photo Tolerance monument","image Tolerance"

and a Monument of Tolerance.

How ironic that it was dedicated rather quietly,

around the time that 8 Mercaz Harav students were murdered.

To get to the center of Jerusalem, 

"picture Flags", "photo Flag dance","image Jerusalem"

where thousands of boys

"picture girls dancing", "image Jerusalem","photo flags"

and girls filled the streets singing and dancing,

I passed through the Liberty Bell Park.

"picture Arab girls", "photo Arab girls", "image Arab girls"

   Arab women and families who ignored PA-issued warnings 

were there as usual enjoying the pleasant weather.

"picture Jerusalem street", "photo Jerusalem", "image parade"

Tens of thousands of people filled the Jerusalem streets.

"picture Jerusalem flag", "photo large flag","image Jerusalem street"

Not all were religious, not all were teens, not all had Israeli flags,

and not one fired a weapon.

While I do not condone their bad behavior,

a statistically insignificant number of trouble-makers at Damascus Gate

 got the mainstream media attention.

 I would like to share with you a few scenes you may not have seen.

"picture Israeli soldiers","photo Israeli soldiers", "image Israeli soldiers"

 Mamilla Mall was packed with crowds coming and going to Jaffa Gate.

"picture Hurva" "photo Rova", "IMAGE old city"

Music and dancing filled the Rova, The Jewish Quarter plaza,

in front of the Hurva Synagogue, which in 1948 

was completely destroyed by the Jordanians and recently rebuilt.

"picture Kosel", "photo Al Quds","image Wailing Wall"

The Plaza near the Kotel, the Western Wall,

was full of people even before the Flag Parade arrived.

"picture Al Quds","image Wailing Wall", "photo sign"

Remember 

from 1948-1967

" photo Jaffa Gate", "image girls", "picture Old City Walls"

 the plaza outside Jaffa Gate was not a safe place.

"picture Jerusalem street", "Photo Jerusalem","image Yemin Moshe"

Families did not stroll in the Yemin Moshe neighborhood.

"picture flag","photo Jerusalem street", "image Israeli flag"

Walking around The Old City Walls was impossible.

"picture east Jerusalem","photo Jerusalem" ,"image Jerusalem"

Jordanian east Jerusalem was off-limits. 

"picture Israeli flag", "photo sunset", "image Jerusalem"

The sun was setting after a beautiful Jerusalem spring day.

Then the party moved to Gan Sacher, Sacher Park

where live music blared all night for a crowd of thousands,

oh…and what a Sleepless Night it was:

Jerusalem Day  #45

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