Latest update: August 12th, 2012
MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) is a rational person in a mad region, which is why to most Israelis his idea would seem dangerous if not outright deadly. He wants to extend the modus vivendi which is in place at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, which is sacred to both Jews and Arabs—to Temple Mount, which is also sacred to both faiths.
Not a good way to win friends and influence strangers in the Middle east, as he very quickly found out.
On Wednesday, MK Eldad submitted a bill to schedule separate prayer hours for Jews and Muslims on Temple Mount, at about the same time that the U.S. government Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor issued its International Religious Freedom Report for 2011, where, in the section regarding “Israel and the occupied territories” the report laments:
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.
Turns out everything you thought you knew was wrong. It’s our U.S. government which is rebuking Israel for blocking Jews from praying in the house of their Father in Heaven.
I would take that one to the UN Security Council and hope for a resounding condemnation…
“The Temple Mount is the holiest place to the people of Israel, the place where the First and Second Temples stood,” said MK Eldad to Arutz 7. “The Temple Mount is also a holy place to Muslims, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque stands, and the Temple Mount is special to Christianity as well.”
He also proposed that “in order to allow freedom of worship and the right to visit the Mount, special visiting days should be established for Jews and Muslims, and hours during which the Mount will be open only to Jews or only to Muslims.”
The bill suggests a separation that would permit each religious group access to the Temple Mount during their daily prayers. Jews pray three times on weekdays, for on Shabbat, and Muslims have five prayers each day.
MK Eldad also wants to give each group full access on its holidays. Jews on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the first and last days of Sukkot and Passover, Shavuot, and Tisha B’Av; the Muslims on Id al-Fitr, Id al-Adha, and Ashura.
And what happens when both Jews and Muslims have a holiday on the same day? They should split. says MK Eldad. Half the day to each faith.
Simple, logical, and absolutely doable anywhere in, say, New Jersey, or Canada.
On Thursday an official from the Al Aqsa Foundation denounced the proposal. Sheikh Kamal Al-Khatib told reporters: “The stars in the sky are closer to us than Israel is from taking a place in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
He may be right, based on Israel’s track record since the day after the Six Day War.
And the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO) called on its member states and the international community to take action following a threat to “move” Al-Aqsa Mosque and replace it with a Jewish temple.
Just like that. How did seeking to share equally an area which is sacred to everyone become a plot to uproot and remove the Mosque?
It turns out that back on the night of Tisha B’Av, during the Women in Green’s march around the walls of Jerusalem, MK Eldad did say: “…When the time comes to build the Holy Temple, and that will be soon, we will then cut up the structure which is there now. We will cut it up, and they can take it wherever they want – because that is where the Third Holy Temple should and will stand – speedily in our days!”
OK, so he got carried away a little… But seriously, Israel has been willing to sit down and listen to Palestinian leaders with actual blood on their hands – the least the other side can do is listen to an elected official who’s proposing a respectful, new order.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, ISESCO condemned the “suggestion by an extreme right-wing Member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, that the mosque must be taken down and rebuilt elsewhere in order to build a temple in its place. Aryeh Eldad’s remarks represent incitement to carry out a terrorist and criminal act.”
There you go. Terrorist and criminal. Apparently, those guys were absent from daycare when the whole sharing thing was being discussed.
Maybe MK Eldad should have started out with a bill calling for the dismantling of the mosque and then he could bargain down to equal prayer time. This is the orient, we approach trade differently.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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