Dear Madame Secretary Mrs. Hillary Clinton,
Shalom from Israel. Pardon my directness, but I was flabbergasted by some of the findings of the USA’s State Department’s newly published, “International Religious Freedom Report for 2011,” regarding religious freedom in Israel. Obviously, it goes without saying that the State Department would find fault with the characteristics of a Jewish State, using the report to scold Israel for a myriad of issues, ranging from the use of halacha for determining conversions to the “discriminatory” nature of Israel’s view towards missionaries trying to sway Israel’s citizens away from Judaism.
Yet in the State Department’s attempt for “completeness,” I did not expect the following criticism, which is in direct conflict to the US State Department’s worldview on Israel.
“The 1967 Protection of Holy Sites Law safeguards the holy sites of all religious groups, including in Jerusalem. All holy sites enjoy certain protections under the penal law, which makes it a criminal offense to damage any holy site, while historic sites are protected by the antiquities law. The government provided resources for the upkeep of holy places of all recognized religious communities, but provided significantly greater levels of government resources to Jewish holy places.
A government policy since 1967, repeatedly upheld by the Supreme Court and routinely enforced by the police citing security concerns, denies all non-Muslims opportunities to worship at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. While the government ensured limited access to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif to everyone regardless of religious beliefs, only Muslims are allowed to pray at the site, although their access has been occasionally restricted due to security concerns. Police regulated traffic in and out of the compound and removed non-Muslim visitors if they appeared to be praying. Since 2000 the Jordanian Waqf that manages the site has restricted non-Muslims from entering the Dome of the Rock shrine and Al-Aqsa Mosque. Non-Muslim religious symbols are not allowed to be worn on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.”
Is the State Department out of it’s mind? Do you honestly want there to be equal, or even semi-equal time for non-Muslims to pray, or even whisper words of prayer, on the Temple Mount?
The State Department wont let the Jerusalem-born children of US parents, to list Jerusalem, ISRAEL on their US passport for fear of upsetting the Arab world, yet you criticize Israel for not allowing Jews freedom of prayer on the Temple Mount? Does not your worldview understand that allowing Jews to openly pray, freely, on the Temple Mount will release far more anger in the Arab world that writing “Jerusalem, Israel” on a passport, and will cause far more Arab angst than the construction of Jewish homes in the West Bank?
Have you lost your minds — do you even realize what you have written? Then again, I could be naive in the reading of “non-Muslim” to include, “Jews.” I could be mistaken, and your intentions were for non-Muslims, excluding Jews, which would fully match the State Department’s policy towards Israel.
While I personally have no issue with Jews openly praying on the Temple Mount, I would appreciate your clarification on the issue.
The Muqata Blog