It is in the silent whispers of our daily Hebrew prayers. “May it be thy will, Lord our God and God of our fathers, that the Temple be speedily rebuilt in our days and grant us a share in thy Torah. There we will serve thee with reverence, as in days of old and as in former years.”
The dream is expressed in the Israeli national anthem, “Hatikva” (“The Hope”), written in 1886 by Naphtali Herz Imber:
As long as the Jewish spirit
is yearning deep in the heart,
With eyes turned toward the East,
looking toward Zion,
Then our hope – the two-thousand-year-old hope –
will not be lost:
To be a free people in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.
During the recent Doha Debates in Dubai, Israeli MK Yossi Beilin said that Israel could provide compensation for those Palestinians who agree to give up their claim for the “right” of return to Israel.
Beilin added that Israel was prepared for even the most painful concessions for peace – a statement that clearly implied giving up the Temple Mount. He also essentially said he doesn’t like Jews who live outside Israel having an input into what concessions are made for peace.
Of course, while Jews outside Israel do not ride the buses here, they have been and continue to be subjected to acts of terrorism simply because they are Jews. As for the misguided concept of a Palestinian right of return and for Beilin’s idea of “compensation,” would not the very establishment of a separate Palestinian state be a full measure of “compensation”? Let the leaders of the new “Palestine,” if and when it is established, decide who will return to their new state.
When the Jordanians controlled the old city of Jerusalem prior to the 1967 Six-Day War, Jews were denied access to the Kotel, which many mistakenly believe to be an actual surviving wall of the Temple itself when it’s actually a retaining wall from the Temple courtyard that held back the higher ground. But even that one remnant of our holy Temple complex was off-limits to us.
Under Israeli government control, all religions have access to their holy sites, and only Arabs – not Jews – have official access to the Temple Mount, our holiest site. The ground of the Temple Mount has no historical ties or intrinsic holiness to Arabs. The mosques they’ve built there were erected specifically to obliterate that which was identifiably Jewish.
Even the ancient walls that border the Old City of Jerusalem were built by our enemies to be taller than the Temple walls so that the Temple itself would be forgotten by Jews. Remove that which identifies us as Jews and you’ve destroyed the Jews. This has always been the thinking of our enemies, and it still is.
Jews have never had peace with anyone by giving up what identifies us as Jews. When we have done so, it has served only to contribute to our self-destruction. History has shown we hardly need Nazis to destroy Jews – we Jews can do a pretty good job of it all by ourselves.
The State of Israel has made more than its share of concessions, has uprooted its people and given up land, and still there is no peace.
There is one painful concession that remains to be made, however. But this is one the Arabs will have to make. If they really want peace, they will relocate their mosques from our holiest ground. There is no need for Jews to make any further painful concessions in the pursuit of peace. But simple honesty from our Arab neighbors would be in order – and very long overdue.
The religious war against the Jews escalated when the mosques were built on our holy Temple Mount. We as Jews must allow ourselves to be Jews – to stand up for what belongs to us and quit giving away, piece by piece, our spiritual and national heritage.
Maintaining our laws and customs, safeguarding our sacred places, and standing up for ourselves are what will earn us honor and respect. This is the only formula that will eventually bring us real peace and security – and enable us to exist as proud and strong Jews.