Jerusalem

Temple Mount belongs to the Jewish people

The traditional Tisha B’Av walk around the Temple Mount will be held next week on the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av to commemorate the destruction of the two Jewish Temples in Jerusalem. This year, the walk will depart later than usual (11:30pm) so that Muslims worshippers can complete their Ramadan celebrations on the Temple Mount.

The decision has been made by police who cite security concerns. But organizers of the walk have described it as a “disgrace.” Nadia Mataro, co-director of grassroots Zionist organization Women in Green, told Arutz Sheva that “the Arabs ascend the Temple Mount but the Jews can only pray at the Western Wall. In a sovereign state, the Jews’ events will only be held after the Arabs’ events are finished. Why? Why can’t they start their events later, so that we can march earlier?”

Israel should never have relinquished control of the Temple Mount. During the Six-Day War, the Jewish state captured the Temple Mount and East Jerusalem from Jordan. Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol assured that “no harm whatsoever shall come to the places sacred to all religions.” Israel passed the Preservation of the Holy Places Law and agreed to leave administration of the site in the hands of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, an Islamic trust that has controlled the area since the 12th century.

This was a massive mistake. Yes, it was a magnanimous gesture designed to demonstrate Israel’s goodwill and religious tolerance. But it has allowed the Muslim authorities to rob the Jewish people of their cultural inheritance and delegitimize Israel’s historic right to Jerusalem.

As well as turning a blind eye to vandalism, the Waqf allows illegal digging to take place. Palestinian excavations of Temple Mount have damaged its structural integrity, and valuable artifacts and important historical remnants have literally been thrown away into rubbish dumps.

Among finds uncovered in rubble removed from the Temple Mount are: the imprint of a seal belonging to a priestly Jewish family mentioned in the Tanakh; more than 4,300 coins from various periods, many of which are from the Jewish revolt that preceded the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE; and arrowheads shot by Babylonian invaders 2,500 years ago.

The throwing away of evidence is a central tenet of Palestinian nationalism, which denies there was ever a Jewish temple in Jerusalem. The phenomenon known as “Temple denial” started when Yasser Arafat used the Camp David Summit in 2000 to insist that a Jewish Temple had never existed in Jerusalem. The idea immediately caught on and has become a mainstay of anti-Zionist discourse.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Jews who visit the Temple Mount are pelted with rocks and hassled by hostile Muslims. At other times, Israeli police have clashed with Arabs rioters after being attacked with stones and firebombs. There is also institutional harassment of Jews. In 2012, a young British Jewish student was accosted by the Waqf who demanded that he remove his “offensive” yarmulke. The student later told reporters that while he has experienced anti-Semitism in England, he “never thought that in Judaism’s holiest site I would be subjugated to such discrimination.”

It is plain to see that Islamic control of the Temple Mount is motivated by politics, not religion. If the site is so important to Muslims, why didn’t a single foreign Arab leader come to pray in the al-Aqsa Mosque during the two decades of Jordanian occupation? And why do Muslims pray with their backsides towards the Temple Mount? And why is Jerusalem not mentioned once in the Koran?

In contrast, the Temple Mount is Judaism’s most holy and revered site. Judaism regards the Temple Mount as the place where God chose the Divine Presence to rest. According to the Talmud, it was from the Temple Mount that God gathered the dust used to create Adam. The site is also the location of Abraham’s binding of Isaac, and of two Jewish Temples, both of which were destroyed by foreign invaders. Many Israelis believe there should be a third Jewish Temple. In 2010, a public opinion poll conducted by Channel 99 showed that 50 per cent of Israelis want the Temple to be rebuilt.

This is the aim of The Temple Institute, a Jerusalem-based religious organization that has started to restore and construct the sacred vessels for the service of the Holy Temple. According to the institute, “Jewish history has a trajectory, which began when the patriarch Abraham smashed his father’s idols. That trajectory has spanned the millennia, and it is obvious that we are rapidly approaching climactic times, in which the Holy Temple will once again become the focal point for mankind’s spiritual focus.”

It is time for Israel to once again make history and recapture the Temple Mount, thereby rescinding the authority of the Waqf. The symbolic importance of taking control should not be underestimated. It would send a clear message to the Palestinians and to the world that Jerusalem is a Jewish city and will never be divided. Reclaiming the Temple Mount will also make it abundantly clear that the State of Israel is an eternal fact on the ground.

 

 

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Time to recapture the Temple Mount

Recent reports of Arabs throwing stones on Temple Mount and the ongoing harassment of Jewish worshippers during Sukkot tells me that liberating Judaism’s holiest site from Muslim occupation is long overdue.

The government’s appeasement of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, which controls the Temple Mount, is an affront to the Jewish people. After all, the Temple Mount is where HaShem chose to rest the Divine Presence.

It is a disgrace that Jews are abused and pelted with stones. It is a scandal that Jews are subject to expulsion by the police if they are caught openly praying on the Temple Mount.

Earlier this year, a young British Jewish student was accosted by Waqf officials, who demanded that he remove his yarmulke, which they said they found to be “offensive.” The student later told reporters that while he has experienced anti-Semitism in England, he “never thought that in Judaism’s holiest site I would be subjugated to such discrimination.”

Meanwhile, the Waqf allows illegal digging to take place. In the process, valuable artifacts and important historical remnants from the two Jewish temples are being thrown away. It is clear that this is an attempt to disconnect the people of Israel from their inheritance.

UNESCO, the UN’s cultural agency, has done nothing to prevent such blatant cultural and historical vandalism. Not only is this shameful, it is a violation of its promise to “create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values.”

It is patently clear that non-Jews cannot be trusted to protect Jewish sites. Following Jordan’s occupation of Judea and Samaria, the Arabs went to great efforts to erase Jewish history. The graveyard on the Mount of Olives was desecrated and all but one of the thirty five synagogues in the Old City were destroyed.

It is obvious that Islamic control of the Temple Mount is motivated by politics, not religion. During the Jordanian occupation, no foreign Arab leader came to pray in the al-Aqsa Mosque. The fact that Muslims continue to pray with their backsides toward the Temple Mount is an affront to HaShem and the Jewish people.

While it is still forbidden for Jews to set foot upon the actual location of the Holy Temple, the rabbinic prohibition against visiting the Tempe Mount is giving way to a heartfelt desire to reincorporate the site into Jewish religious life. It is significant that a number of rabbis have visited the complex, as well as schoolchildren.

Therefore, it is time for Israel to once again make history and recapture the Temple Mount. Whether this can be achieved without causing another intifada remains to be seen. But the symbolic importance of taking control should not be underestimated. It would send a clear message to the Palestinians (and to the world) that Jerusalem is a Jewish city and will never be divided.

Protect the Temple Mount

Friends of Israel are being urged to support a campaign that aims to stop the desecration of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Among the groups campaigning to end the vandalism are the British Israel Coalition, British Muslims for Israel and Anglican Friends of Israel.

The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, the trust that controls and manages the Temple Mount, is accused of desecrating Judaism’s holiest site. Illegal digging has destroyed historical remnants of Jerusalem’s Jewish history. Since the mid-1990s, the Waqf has carried out excavation work, drilled into ancient stones and painted over rare Jewish works at the site.

The Waqf has allowed illegal digging through the use of tractors, and thrown away valuable artifacts from the two Jewish Temples. Archaeologists have sifted through Waqf-sanctioned rubbish heaps and found decorated utensils from the King Solomon era, as well as coins and clay dating back to the second Temple.

Other Jewish religious sites under attack include Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus) and the 3,000 year-old Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

The Waqf also denies Jewish and other non-Muslim visitors to visit and worship freely on the Temple Mount. Jewish worshipers are discriminated against and harassed on a regular basis by the Waqf. The threat of anti-Jewish violence has left the Israeli authorities with little choice but to prevent Jewish worship on the Temple Mount.

Earlier this year, a young British Jewish student was accosted by Waqf officials, who demanded that he remove his yarmulke, which they said they found to be “offensive.” The student later told reporters that while he has experienced anti-Semitism in England, he “never thought that in Judaism’s holiest site I would be subjugated to such discrimination.”

It is clear that the Waqf is attempting to disconnect the people of Israel from its inheritance by either denying the presence of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem or destroying evidence of its existence. This attempt to de-Judaize the Temple Mount cannot be allowed to continue.

Meanwhile UNESCO has done nothing to prevent such blatant cultural and historical vandalism. Not only is this shameful, it is a violation of its promise to “create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values.”

Historical treasures such as the Temple Mount must be protected regardless of politics and religious identification. The inaction of UNESCO in the face of this concerted vandalism of Jewish holy sites is utterly unjustifiable.