The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has issued an unprecedented press release condemning the Israeli government for perceived discrimination against Jews on the Temple Mount. The rare display of public dissent was prompted by recent clampdowns by Israeli police on visits by Jews, as well as the draconian measures police employ to “guard the calm.”
“The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) believes that unfettered access and freedom to pray at a holy site is a basic, universally recognized right, which certainly should be accorded to Jews in the Jewish State of Israel,” the statement began. “More Jews have wanted to visit the Temple Mount in recent years . . . To their dismay, when they do visit they are subject to blatant discrimination and humiliation by the Israeli police, who are cooperating with and hoping to appease the extremist Muslim Wakf authority on the Mount.”
The press release cited the fact that Jews “have to endure . . . humiliation as they are followed and filmed by Israeli police and representatives of the Wakf . . . prohibitions against visiting the Mount more than once a day . . . ” and “arrests for ‘crimes,’ such as – praying, even silently if one’s lips are moving . . . studying Torah . . . [and] closing one’s eyes.” It also provided recent examples, like the arrest of a 67-year-old man who was quietly reciting a blessing before taking a sip of water, as required by Jewish law.
The statement goes on to criticize the disparate treatment Muslims receive: “Remarkably, if your appearance or behavior openly shows you are a Muslim you are treated with respect, and there is no disruption whatsoever for pursuing your religious activities as you wish to practice.” The disparity is all the more disturbing in light of the fact that “not one act of desecration or disrespect for Muslim holy places has been committed by Jews on the Temple Mount. No Jews ever have terrorized Muslims there or engaged in rioting.” On the other hand, “the worst acts of Temple Mount violence and desecrations have been perpetrated by Muslims, such as raining rocks on Jewish worshippers below at the Western Wall.”
The statement ends by calling on the Israeli government to “end the discriminatory policy that is applied on the Temple Mount,” and urges other prominent American Jewish organizations to join in their campaign.