Israeli Minister Rails at IDF for Failing to Cite 'Liberation' of Jerusalem in Events

Army adheres to government guidelines to mark 50 years since 'unification' of city, without mentioning 'liberation'; Miri Regev calls army's adherence to government guidelines "a disgrace"

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev at the Cannes Film Festival, May 17, 2017.
Eli Sabati/Facebook

Israel’s Culture Minister Miri Regev lashed out at the army on Monday for marking the “unification” of Jerusalem, rather that the city’s “liberation,” in official events this week to commemmorate 50 years since the Israeli military captured East Jerusalem. But the action that roused Regev’s ire was in line with a government decision.

“This is a disgrace!” she said in an interview with Army Radio, adding that she planned to complain to Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.

Regev insisted that the cabinet decision required all government events to celebrate both the city’s unification and its liberation. “Jerusalem was liberated and united, and I expect the chief of staff to obey the state’s rules,” she said, adding that the army “doesn’t make decisions on its own or separately from the government.”

But a look at the cabinet’s decision shows that what it actually approved was the holding of events in honor of “50 years of the unification of Jerusalem – the eternal capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.” This decision was adopted late last year and was the basis for all plans for official events to mark the anniversary, which falls this week.

The IDF’s educational events are focusing on Jerusalem’s unification, and commanders have been intructed not to touch issues such as the status of the West Bank, so as not to plunge the army into a political debate. In his instructions to officers, Chief Education Officer Brig. Gen. Avner Paz-Tzuk wrote, “The army’s discussion of the war will revolve around the narrative of military victory, and we’ll avoid any discussion of the diplomatic and political controversy.”

President Reuven Rivlin speaks at a May 24 event at Jerusalem's Ammunition Hill marking 50 years since the unification of Jerusalem -- against the backdrop of a large blue and white sign with the number "50."
Mark Neiman / GPO

The Culture Ministry responded by noting that the Ministerial Committee for Ceremonies and Symbols, which Regev chairs, approved the official logo for the 50th anniversary events, and that logo was subsequently approved by a cabinet decision. “This is its wording: ‘50 years since the liberation of Jerusalem – united and unifying Jerusalem,’” the statement continued. “This decision binds all government offices, agencies and organizations ... This decision was the final and determinative one.”