Our ancestors composed this tearful lament over 2500 years ago. Exiled from their beloved land, they sat down and mourned by the rivers of Babylon.
The Jewish people never forgot Jerusalem. 3 times a day, we pray in the direction of Jerusalem and ask G-d that "our eyes may behold in mercy Your return to Zion". For 2000 years, 3 times a day without fail, we looked towards Jerusalem and prayed for its rebuilding. We observe 4 fasts anually over the destruction of Jerusalem, culminating in the fast of the 9th of Av, the most tragic day i nthe Jewish calendar, when both Temples were destroyed. At the end of every Yom Kippur fast and Passover seder, we declare: "Next Year in Jerusalem!"
Jerusalem is mentioned 700 times in the Hebrew Bible. It is never mentioned in the Qur'an. Muslims pray towards Mecca, with their backs to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was never the capital of any Muslim nation. The only times Jerusalem was a capital was when Jews ruled Israel: during the Davidic kingdom, the Hasmonean dynasty and in the modern state of Israel.
G-d has returned Jerusalem to us after 2000 years of longing, mourning, hoping and praying. Never will we be distanced from her again.
I amuse myself with the many similarities between the Palestinian and Jewish peoples. The Hebrew bible is a chronicle of the Jewish people written almost as an autobiography summarising events and lessons learned in over 3500 years of their history. For Jews the 'national' is so entangled with the 'religious' that both may seem as one. That's primarily because the bible, a religious text, is also their national narrative.
Palestinians are not a religious group in their own, despite being overwhelmingly Muslim, their history and plight is not a religious matter but rather a national one. But Palestinians have the same nostalgia to the very same places that Jews have longed for. The Hebrew bible has seven hundred mentions of Jerusalem, But if you survey Palestinian literature and culture in the past century you will find that Jerusalem is at the heart of the Palestinian national identity. There is no single Palestinian home I have entered that did not have a picture of Jerusalem. Not in Palestine, not in Jordan and not in Syria and probably not anywhere else in the world. So the attachment to the symbol is ever present. At the beginning of every year, on Land Day, on Nakbeh Memorial day, on Independence Day and every other national or religious event, we Palestinians which each others three things: Return, Independence and a state with Jeruslaem as its capital.
I don't believe in God. It is So obvious that G-d did not return the Jews to Jerusalem. It was the efforts of Zionist leaders and the grace of the government of the United Kingdom and the continuous military build up in the twenties, thirties and forties of Jewish armed power which fought against the British and the Palestinians. Then Israel was established, and it did unto the Palestinians what the Romans did unto the Jews. The same distruction of their property, dispossession, and exodus. But, just the same, we will have our own Bar-Kochba, and that state will last.