Two unrelated events Tuesday about the Temple Mount threw the spotlight on Judaism’s holiest site, which the Obama administration has been trying to avoid in its peace talk show because it knows it will spell the end of its illusory dream for a piece of peace paper.
A seemingly harmless court decision in Jerusalem backed a lawsuit by Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick, who won $8,500 in damages from the police for discrimination and arrest without cause. The second event was a front page article in The Washington Post entitled “At Temple Mount, Dreams of Prayer Raise Fears of Violence.”
The Temple Mount was restored to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967 after nearly 2,000 years of rule by foreigners, including the Jordanian occupation from 1948-1967 during which time no Jews were allowed to visit. For that matter, Jordan also prohibited Christians from visiting their sites, unless the visitors were important world dignitaries, but let’s leave that for CNN.
Unknown to most foreign and even many Israeli journalists, who know what they know by hanging out with Haaretz reporters, Jews regularly prayed on the Temple Mount in 1967.
In the following years, the Arab world started to think again about getting rid of Israel. Empowered by Moshe Dayan’s handing religious authority over the Temple Mount to Jordan, and backed by a Chief Rabbinate prohibition against Jews ascending the Temple Mount because of issues of ritual impurity, it has become a de facto Muslim site.
That has changed somewhat since many national religious rabbis have ruled that Jews may visit certain areas of the Temple Mount without fears of violating Jewish law against walking on ground that is part of the Holy of Holies in the destroyed Temples.
The Arab world, including the Palestinian Authority, has conducted a campaign in recent years to convince the world that the Jewish Temples never existed. Jerusalem police, worried more about Muslim violence than freedom, enforce Muslim rules forbidding Jews from bringing any religious articles when visiting the Temple Mount, let alone praying.
Enter Yehuda Glick, whose activism has promoted groups to ascend the site, after ritual immersion. Police routinely harass orthodox Jews while letting non-observant Jews and Christians visit. Lately, some Jews have been brazen enough to utter a prayer on the Temple Mount, prompting quick removal by police.
Glick appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court in 2009 with a complaint that the police were discriminating against him personally by not allowing him to ascend the Temple Mount. The court rejected his appeal but told him to come back again if he saw that the police methodically barred him and no one else.
Glick than armed himself with a camera and photographed police at the checkpoint at the Temple Mount. Police arrested him twice for taking pictures, and Glick went back to the court with a lawsuit for slander, false arrest and discrimination.
Tuesday’s ruling is a significant victory for him and a slap in the face of the police, who have been told in the past by the Supreme Court that the prohibition against Jews uttering a prayer on the Temple Mount is illegal discrimination. However, the Court said the police can invoke the very convenient excuse that prayer “endangers the public order.”
Of course, the presence of Jews in Israel endangers the public order, but we will leave that for the next expulsion of Jews from their homes, God forbid, because U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is worried the Arabs might try to wipe out Israel by going to the United Nations instead of by “negotiations.” Kerry wants all the credit.
The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, “The complainant was arrested not for any specific action but because of the fact that has been singled out by the defendants (perhaps correctly) as a provocateur. This consideration is not a reason for detaining him or arresting a person with any justifiable basis only because of his opinions.
“This is an action that represents discrimination and not the democratic government of Israel.”
Glick called on others to follow suit and complain to the court.
While the court delivered its decision, Americans reading The Washington Post woke up to see the front page article that could not have been better timed, not only because of the court ruling but also because it still is Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday that recalls the Hashmonean revolt against the Romans and the re-establishment of Jewish authority at the Holy Temple.
The newspaper opened up with the expected warning that Jewish demands to pray on the Temple Mount will make the Muslims furious.
The world now knows the absurdity of the Muslim prohibitions against Jews. “Many [Jewish activists] then embark upon a game of hide-and-seek with their police escorts — whispering forbidden prayers while pretending to talk into cellphones, and getting in quick but banned bows by dropping coins and then bending to pick them up,” The Washington Post reporters wrote.
The Muslim position is obvious and well-known.
“This place belongs to the Muslim people, and no others have the right to pray here,” Sheik Azzam al-Khatib, director of the Waqf, told the newspaper. “If they try to take over the mosque, this will be the end of time. This will create rage and anger not only in the West Bank but all over the Islamic world — and only God knows what will happen.”
The Muslim opposition and wild Arab propaganda that almost daily reports of Jews ”storming” or “invading” the Temple Mount, has been so gross that Jews finally have reacted, as usual, only when their backs are against the wall.
For the first time, senior Knesset leaders have vocally supported the right of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount.
Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, deputy minister of religious affairs, has proposed giving Jews an hour a day to pray there.
“There is a growing reality among sectors of the population who want to go up there and pray, and there are rabbis who are encouraging their followers to do so,” he told a recent Knesset committee. “The rabbinate needs to recognize this reality.’’
Housing Minister Uri Ariel would like nothing better than to announce plans for building the Holy Temple, but it is doubtful that Kerry would approve.
The Washington Post reported to Americans what Israelis and Jewish Press readers knew here weeks ago. “There is no such thing as the Temple Mount! It does not exist. It is not there,” said Arab Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka.
After Luked MK Miri Regev said Jews have a right to pray there, Arab MK Ahmed Tibi burst out, “Because of your games at the al-Aqsa mosque, a third intifada could erupt. You are a dangerous woman — to yourself, your children and all of us. Enough of playing with fire!”
There is nothing like the threat of violence to bring Goosebumps to Western governments that think they know more about the Middle East than people living there.
The Palestinian Authority, under the direction of Yasser Arafat, launched the Second Intifada, or the Oslo War, latching onto the excuse that Ariel Sharon provoked it by visiting the Temple Mount in his campaign for Prime Minister
The Muslim religious police hatred of Jews is so crude that the Washington Post’s reportage of it is not going to help the anti-Zionist camp.
“On a recent weekday morning, a dozen Jews led by an activist rabbi assembled at Mughrabi Gate to enter the Temple Mount,” the article stated. “Because they had skullcaps and some had long beards and were wearing religious garments, they were escorted by armed Israeli police and trailed by three escorts from the Waqf.
“Several times, one of the escorts pointed at a Jewish visitor and said to the police, ‘Watch that one!’ or ‘Hey! Is he praying?’”
Kerry and Martin Indyk can talk with Palestinian Authority and Israeli “negotiators” day and night, but they are only kicking the can down the road.
No matter what the Obama administration is able to force Israel to surrender to Mahmoud Abbas, it won’t be able to ignore the Temple Mount.
President Barack Obama previously has referred to some grand plan to place the Old City under joint Christian, Islamic and Jewish rule.
That just proves how much he and his State Dept. poodles don’t know about the Middle East.
About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.
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