Jewish love for Jerusalem drew unexpected praise from the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization, who told religious leaders in Tehran that the Jews show their love for the city more than Muslims do, and quoted in Hebrew from an inspirational Israeli ballad to prove the point.
Addressing a clerical conference in the Iranian capital, Ramadan Shalah lamented that Palestinians and other Muslims showed insufficient love for Al-Quds, the Arabic name for Jerusalem, according to a recording obtained Monday by Israel’s Army Radio.
Shalah contrasted the inadequate Palestinian and Muslim love of the holy city with the heartfelt attachment of the Jews, and — speaking in Hebrew and Arabic — quoted the famous Israeli ballad “Jerusalem of Gold,” penned by Zionist songstress Naomi Shemer.
“What is the meaning of Jerusalem for us?” Shalah, who leads one of the most extreme terror groups in the world and is on the FBI’s most-wanted terrorists list, asked the assembled clergy last week. “Learn from the Jews, from that accursed entity [Israel]. They love Jerusalem not just as a military matter, but as a cultural one,” he declared.
“They have a song in the Israeli entity that their army sings on June 7, when they conquered the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Haram al-Sharif [the Temple Mount, in the 1967 Six Day War],” he added, and went on to quote part of the chorus of “Jerusalem of Gold.”
“Jerusalem of gold. Jerusalem of bronze. Jerusalem of light,” he chanted, saying each phrase in both Hebrew and Arabic.
“Every Israeli child and every accursed Israeli soldier says this song in their heart,” Shalah told the crowd.
The ballad, one of the most popular Hebrew songs ever, was composed for a music festival in Jerusalem that was part of the May 1967 Independence Day celebrations. The song employs ancient references, including from the Book of Lamentations and the Mishnah, to lament that Judaism’s holiest places – especially the Temple Mount – were closed to Jews by the Jordanian authorities who controlled the eastern half of the city at the time.
The song begins by describing a desolate Jerusalem, with a “wall” in her heart, a reference to the border wall dividing the Israeli and Jordanian parts of the city.
Within weeks of the song’s publication to widespread acclaim, the Six Day War broke out and Israeli forces were able to capture Jerusalem’s ancient Old City, leading Shemer to write a fourth, triumphant stanza that begins, “We returned to the water cisterns, the marketplace and the square / A ram’s horn blows at the Temple Mount in the ancient city.”
Islamic Jihad, which Salah heads, last week slammed southern Israel with a barrage of over 60 rockets, drawing Israeli airstrikes and leading to the largest flare up of violence between Gaza and Israel in over a year.
The group is considered to be one of Hamas’s largest rivals for control of the Strip and enjoys close ties with Iran.