In 1948, King Abdullah the First of Jordan, joined in a war to push the Jews into the sea after he and his fellow Arab leaders rejected the UN Partition plan that would have divided the remaining 1/3 of Palestine (2/3 of which had already been pilfered to form his government), into two states – an Arab one and a Jewish one. In the land grab that followed, Abdullah I took all of what is known as the West Bank to some, Judea and Samaria to others. He took the Old City of Jerusalem as well; the Jews gained land in the north, south, and kept Western Jerusalem, widely known as the New City.
For 19 years, Jews were denied any chance to visit the Old City, the Western Wall, the Mount of Olives. Over 40,000 headstones were vandalized, latrines built from the tombstones. In 1967, in a preemptive attempt to head off attacks by Syria and Egypt, Israel responded to the mobilization of Syrian and Egyptian troops, the closing of the Straights of Tiran, and the mounting and increasingly threatening rhetoric. As Israeli jets flew to cripple the Syrian and Egyptian air forces at the outbreak of what was to be called the Six Day War, Israel sent a very clear message to King Hussein, son of Abdullah I. Stay out of the war, Israel said. We will not attack you.
Hussein answered back that he would fight with his brothers, as he sent his forces on the attack. His motives were not nearly as noble as his words. In reality, he anticipated – incorrectly – victory for the Arabs and was afraid he would miss out on another land grab like the one that brought his father east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Hussein’s forces were pushed back beyond the Jordan River. Lost was Judea, lost was Samaria and lost was the Old City…which was, once again, reunited with the newer parts of the city, which had been under Israeli control from the beginning. And then, in a landmark move of monumental stupidity, Israel’s Moshe Dayan handed over the keys (figuratively speaking) to the Temple Mount and the game was on.
The Western Wall was clearly returned to the Jews who could once again pray before the last remnant of a Temple that was destroyed 2,000 years earlier. The Temple Mount was given to the Muslims, who have spent the last 45 years attempting to return to the 19 years of Jordanian intolerance.
Slowly over the last few years, Jews have become more and more aware of the absurdity of our being denied the right to simply whisper a prayer at our holiest site. Would worlds really fall if a Jew were to close his eyes and ask God for peace, safety and health for his family? Apparently so.
Over this Passover holiday in Israel, hundreds of infidels Jews and Christians have visited the Temple Mount. Today, two young men lowered themselves to the ground of the Holy Temple Mount and as they attempted to…yes…pray…they were attacked, beaten, arrested. In response, the Jordanian government, under the leadership of King Abdullah II issued a demand that Jews be banned from the Temple Mount.
In the past, the Jordanian government demanded cameras be installed and then when Israel welcomed the suggestion, knowing what violence there is up there is mostly not started by the few Jewish visitors, Jordan announced that it has canceled the plan and no cameras would be installed.
As I contemplated the demand by Jordan, I wondered if perhaps the Israeli government would be willing to appoint me as the temporary spokesperson to respond. I know exactly what I’d say to Abdullah:
In response to your government’s threat that there would be consequences if Jews were not banned from the Temple Mount, please note that 45 years ago, when Jordan last threatened Israel…they lost the Temple Mount and all of Judea and Samaria. If the consequences involve an attempt to bring this holy site under your control, I have to say, bring it on…but this time, Abdullah, this time we don’t give it back. This time we won’t let another idiot like Moshe Dayan hand over the keys.
Bring it on….you want no Jews on the Temple Mount…try it…and quickly find that we have learned much since you last held our holiest site and we will not return to those days. It was ours long before your precious Mohammed ever lived; it will be ours long after you are dust.
Arabs pray on the Temple Mount because WE allow it, and in our utter stupidity, rather than insisting that we TOO have a right to pray, we catered too long to an unfair and impossible situation. The site is holy to Christians, Muslims and Jews. Either everyone is free to pray there, or no one is free.
No, you will not keep it from us entirely, not now. Not ever. Your threat shows that 68 years after the 1948 war, your nation still fails to understand the Jew. We will tolerate much to avoid what bloodshed we can but if you insist on attempting to take the Temple Mount from us…there will be war…because this time, we will insist that the Temple Mount be open to all religions – as we have kept it for the last 45 years, and as you refused to do for the 19 years it was in Jordan’s hands.
You kept us from the Temple Mount for 19 years…we’ll take full control if you dare to think the consequences to be paid will be ours. We will never forbid Muslims from praying there, but nothing says the WAKF has to be in charge; nothing says that Jews who go up to Har Habayit have to be beaten and abused and if your religion is insulted by seeing Jews pray, that is your problem, not ours.
If the problem is so insurmountable that the mere sight of Jews whispering in prayers sends Muslims into rioting, I suggest we initiate a rotation plan. There are three great religions. Each can be given the Temple Mount for 8 hours a day. Each can choose to share it with others. For the record, we will allow Christians up during our 8 hours and will seek permission in return such that Jews and Christians, tolerant and accepting of each other, will be allowed 16 hours per day. Muslims may have the Temple Mount, alone and unbothered for eight hours. What eight hours would you like?
Also, I recommend that each religion be given a specific number of days in which the Temple Mount will be closed to all other religions for a period of 24 hours. How many days would you like and which ones? I recommend 10 days, as we do in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
Please note that you’ll need to remove your prayer rugs during the 16 hours that the Temple Mount is not in your control and on the full days as well. We can build three separate storage units (perhaps Keter would donate them, but if you prefer a Jordanian brand, that’s fine too). You can store your holy stuff in it and we’ll store our holy stuff as well. Not sure what the Christians have, so we’ll need to check with them as well.
Please note that you will also no longer be allowed freedom to build additional mosques up there unless we can build up there as well and I suppose we’ll have to let the Christians build up there too if they want. It might be a good idea to tell the teenagers that they can no longer play soccer up there as well, as access will now become fully equal and balanced for all. Domination of the Temple Mount has come to an end. Your people have occupied this historic and religious site for too long, abusing it by storing rocks and fireworks, endangering the infrastructure by illegal excavations.
You are correct; it is time to implement a true status quo based on equality; and there must be consequences for those who riot and refuse to accept the sanctity of the place.
Let us know when you want to begin implementing the 24 hour cycle – I suggest we do it quickly as Israelis would really love to have the Temple Mount to ourselves this coming Independence Day in a few weeks.