This week was Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Reunification Day – which recognizes that Jerusalem is now a united city, open for all religions to worship in their holy spaces. This includes hundreds of thousands of Muslims who gather on the Temple Mount every year—including this year—to observe Ramadhan. We celebrate Jerusalem Day along with Jews around the world.

The reunification of Jerusalem during the Six-day war enabled Jews to return to their holy sites, including the Kotel (Western Wall), after almost 20 years of exile from these areas. Recognizing the sensitivity of the situation, in his declaration on that day Defense Minister Moshe Dayan said “To our Arab neighbors we extend, also at this hour—and with added emphasis at this hour—our hand in peace. And to our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens, we solemnly promise full religious freedom and rights. We did not come to Jerusalem for the sake of other peoples’ holy places, and not to interfere with the adherents of other faiths, but in order to safeguard its entirety, and to live there together with others, in unity.”

Once a joyful celebration of Jerusalem as a city of peace for all, the traditional Jerusalem Flag Day March has more recently been co-opted by far-right nationalist extremists who have spewed hate and provoked violence in their marches through the Old City. Their actions are not at all in the spirit of harmony expressed by Dayan. This year, marchers and some government leaders spewed hateful rhetoric such as “May your village burn” and “Death to Arabs,” vandalized property, and assaulted journalists and Palestinian residents.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor condemns these actions. Vandalism and acts of violence and hate against anyone for any reason are completely unacceptable.

We laud and seek to amplify the actions of Israelis who seek peaceful co-existence and who showed up to counter this hateful march. Activists with the organization Standing Together, which recently established a “humanitarian guard” to protect aid convoys to Gaza, stood between violent youth and Palestinian locals and filmed tense moments in an attempt to avoid escalation. Another group of Israelis associated with the Tag Meir coexistence organization went through the Old City passing out flowers to Arab residents – a “Flower March” tradition developed to counter the hate emanating from the Flag March. And Monday, two hundred people led by rabbis, sheikhs and priests marched through the center of Jerusalem in a display of cross-religious solidarity and to send a message of peace, justice and equality.

Also this week, we express our sorrow at the civilian lives lost in the IDF’s strike against an UNWRA school in Gaza. After calling off this strike twice before, the IDF used a precision weapon to target Hamas terrorists who were breaking international law by operating in the school. While at least 9 terrorists, including some who were involved in the 10/7 attacks, were reportedly killed in this strike, we mourn the tragic death of each civilian affected by this conflict.