Jordans Desecration of Jerusalem
For more than 100 years, the Jews have been the majority of Jerusalem's inhabitants. Even over the long centuries of exile, Jews had persisted in maintaining and reinvigorating their presence there. King David built his citadel in Jerusalem, and the city has been central to Jewish history since biblical times. In fact, Zionism, the movement of modern Jewish nationalism, meant simply the “Return to Zion.”
Before the United Nations voted in favor of the Patition Plan on November 29, 1947 supporting Israel's establishment, the Arab Legion of Jordan launched its attack on the city. The Jordanian army blocked Jerusalem's roads and and cut off the city's access to water. The Iraqi and Egyptian armies attacked the city from the south, attempting to link up with the Jordanians for the final offensive.
After bitter fighting, the ill-armed and hastily-improvised Jewish defense forces repulsed the Egyptian and Iraqi attacks. However, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City was particularly vulnerable and, after a valiant defense, fell to the vastly superior arms and numbers of the Arab Legion. The Quarter's surviving inhabitants were evacuated to the New City, the four-fifths of the capital the defenders had succeeded in holding. Jordan proceeded to annex the remainder, which its army had conquered during the fighting.
The Old City, and the Jewish Quarter, officially fell on May 27, 1948. Israel's army liberated Jerusalem's Old City from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, nearly twenty years later. Under Jordanian control, the Jewish Quarter was completely neglected and virtually destroyed.
The following is a photographic record that is but a sample of the destruction. All but one of the thirty five houses of worship that graced the Old City for centuries were in shambles. The state of the revered Jewish graveyard on the Mount of Olives was in complete disarray.
It is the story of hundreds of Torah scrolls, reverently preserved for generations, plundered and burned to ashes; of thousands of holy books committed to the flames; of synagogues razed to the ground or covered into hollow shells of their glorious former selves, their interiors used as hen houses and stables, filled with dung-heaps, garbage and carcasses, or as sites for latrines and sewage canals; of tens of thousands of tombstones broken into pieces or used as flagstones, steps and building materials; of large areas of the cemetery leveled and converted into parking lots and a filling station; of graves ripped and skeletal bones scattered, and an asphalt short-cut through the pitiful remains to provide a short-cut to a new hotel built incongruously upon the Mount of Olives.
King Hussein of Jordan claimed “the right faithfully to guard the Holy Places that our Arab hand has known how to guard these thousand years and more” in a speech in Beirut, Lebanon on August 24, 1967.
During those two decades that the Old City of Jerusalem was under Jordanian control, the Jordanian government engaged in activities totally removed from the guarding of Holy Places, as the pictorial documentation of the following pages will show.