Three paratroopers from famed Western Wall photo return to site 50 years later

David Rubinger’s iconic photo shows Israeli paratroopers standing in front of the Western Wall in Jerusalem shortly after its capture during the Six-Day War, June 7, 1967. (David Rubinger/GPO)

From left, Israeli paratroopers Tzion Karasenti, Yitzhak Yifat and Chaim Oshri standing at the Western Wall after Israel captured the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, June 7, 1967. (David Rubinger/GPO)

JERUSALEM (JTA) – The three Israeli paratroopers whose photograph has symbolized the Jewish return to the Western Wall were back there on Jerusalem Day at the exact hour when they liberated the site 50 years ago.

Yitzhak Yifat, Tzion Karasenti and Chaim Oshri joined thousands of Jews from around the world to mark Jerusalem Day.

“Returning to the Kotel with these people was almost as exciting as my first time,” Karasenti, the first paratrooper to reach the Western Wall in 1967, said in a statement. “To see the joy in their eyes, being with the three of us on this momentous occasion made the moment even more special.”

Natan Sharansky, chair of the Jewish Agency and a former Soviet refusenik, recalled what the reunification of the city did for Soviet Jewry.

“When the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces broke through the gates of Jerusalem’s Old City, they also punched a hole in the Iron Curtain, inspiring us Soviet Jews to start our struggle for freedom,” Sharansky said in a statement. “This struggle, supported by Jews around the world, ultimately brought down the Iron Curtain and enabled a million Jews to come home to Israel.

“Sadly, there remain many around the world who deny our connection to this land and to our holiest city, including in international forums. It was therefore deeply gratifying to see the President of the United States make a point of visiting the Western Wall and emphasizing the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jewish people throughout his time in Israel. Peace will not come to this troubled region through the hateful denial of historical facts, but rather through the acceptance of the Jewish people’s ties to this land and the legitimacy of our sovereign presence here.”

Among those on hand at the Western Wall were the participants in the World Mizrachi Movement’s Yom Yerushalayim 50 Mega-Mission. British Chief Rabbi Efraim Mirvis, and his predecessor, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, accompanied the group from the religious Zionist umbrella organization.

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Trump, family make private visit to Western Wall

President Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, left, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, May 22, 2017. (Israel Bardugo)
President Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, left, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, May 22, 2017. (Israel Bardugo)

U.S. President Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, left, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, May 22, 2017. (Israel Bardugo)

JERUSALEM (JTA) – U.S. President Donald Trump visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to go to the holy site.

Trump arrived there under heavy security Monday afternoon with his wife, Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner. No Israeli politicians or officials accompanied the family. U.S. officials reportedly had rejected a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit the site with Trump.  [Read more…]

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Trump: Netanyahu may join me at the Western Wall

(JTA) – U.S. President Donald Trump said he has not ruled out inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join him when he visits Jerusalem’s Western Wall.

“We have not yet made a final decision about my visit to the Western Wall,” Trump, who is scheduled to visit Israel next week, told the Israel Hayom newspaper in an interview Thursday. “We have great respect for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the decision to have the rabbi [of the Western Wall] accompany us was primarily because that is the custom at the site. It could still change.” [Read more…]

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Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler jokes he’s ‘making aliyah,’ Jewish Agency responds ‘walk this way’

David Friedman, left, ran into Steven Tyler at the Western Wall, May 15, 2017. (Rob Ghost/Flash90)
David Friedman, left, ran into Steven Tyler at the Western Wall, May 15, 2017. (Rob Ghost/Flash90)

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, left, ran into Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler at the Western Wall, May 15, 2017. (Rob Ghost/Flash90)

(JTA) – The Jewish Agency for Israel invited Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler to apply to immigrate to Israel after the rocker said during his concert “I’m making aliyah!”

Some 50,000 fans cheered Tyler’s announcement during the concert Wednesday night at Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv, the opening of its “Aero Vederci” tour billed as the band’s last. Aerosmith last played in Israel 23 years ago. [Read more…]

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Trump and Netanyahu speak by phone, reportedly don’t discuss intelligence leaks

JERUSALEM (JTA) – U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have spoken by phone in the wake of the revelation that Trump shared Israeli intelligence with Russia.

The conversation took place late Tuesday afternoon in Israel, the Israeli media reported, citing unnamed senior Israeli officials. It is not known who initiated the call, which reportedly lasted 20 minutes. [Read more…]

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Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to UN, says Western Wall belongs to Israel

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaking at a Security Council meeting in New York City, April 12, 2017. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaking at a Security Council meeting in New York City, April 12, 2017. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

(JTA) – Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the Western Wall belongs to Israel and Israel’s capital should be in Jerusalem.

Haley made the comments during an interview Tuesday with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) in the wake of reports that a Trump administration official, responding to a request that Israeli officials accompany President Donald Trump when he visits the Western Wall, replied that the Western Wall “is not your territory, it’s part of the West Bank.” A White House spokesman later told JTA that the staffer’s remarks “do not represent the position of the United States and certainly not of the president.” [Read more…]

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Trump to visit Western Wall without Israeli leaders

WASHINGTON (JTA) – U.S. President Donald Trump will visit the Western Wall unaccompanied by Israeli leaders in order to emphasize the overarching message of his overseas tour: unifying the three Abrahamic religions against the common threat of terrorism.

“No Israeli leaders will join President Trump at the Western Wall,” H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, said Tuesday at a briefing for reporters ahead of Trump’s Middle Eastern and European tour next week. [Read more…]

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