In comments clearly aimed at healing wounds, Temple Mount activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick praised the Israeli government Monday for not closing the ancient holy site to Jewish visitors — despite fierce Muslim rioting gauged to trigger just that reaction — as it has in the past.
Founder and head of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, Glick said, however, that the government still has far to go in safeguarding the rights of Jews on the Temple Mount, and reversing decades of Muslim violence, threats and harassment tolerated by security officials.
Glick has spent years working towards strengthening interfaith bonds in Jerusalem. Last October he nearly died as a result, when a radical Islamist Arab terror group marked him for death, sending an assassin to eliminate the Jewish activist. Glick was shot four times at point-blank range outside the Menachem Begin Heritage Center shortly after he delivered a lecture at the hall. Against all odds, he survived the attack.
“In general, I think yesterday we saw the government moving the police in the right direction by not closing down the Temple Mount due to Muslim extremists, and that needs to continue,” he said. “I think that anybody who saw the pictures the police released [of the rioting] understands that we’re not dealing with ordinary people who come to pray, but with people who are closer in behavior to terrorists.”
Aftermath of violent Arab riot on the Temple Mount.
“These are people whose whole goal is causing disorder and trying to frighten Jews from visiting the Temple Mount; trying to violently change the status of the Temple Mount,” he added.
“I think it’s quite obvious that these people exhibit terrorist traits. We experience this behavior every day, and the government should show their intolerance to this.”
First, he said, such groups should be outlawed like terrorists, and force should be used to expel them if necessary. Second, he suggested, a de-escalation policy should be implemented to reduce the tension and allow freedom of prayer for Jews.
“In my eyes, there’s no reason why Jews and Muslims can’t pray together, but if the radical Muslims who have taken over the Temple Mount can’t tolerate Jews praying there, the government must block them and initiate some settlement where Jews can pray in peace and quiet without being attacked on a regular basis.”
As far as he is concerned, said Glick, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan should initiate a policy to bar radicals from the Temple Mount.
“I think yesterday we saw a first step toward that when Erdan didn’t shut down the Temple Mount to tourists and allowed them to visit,” he said. “The police announced: ‘No matter what, we’re going to keep the Temple Mount open.’”
Glick described the arrest last Thursday of Avia Morris – who after being screamed at and cursed by a mob of Muslims called their prophet Muhammad a “pig” – as unfair.
“I don’t think that remark was smart or should have been said,” he said. “But I saw the film – she was on the Temple Mount for 45 minutes with non-stop harassment, surrounded by almost 100 men and women who were screaming and cursing.”
None of the attacking Muslims were arrested for their equally inflammatory rhetoric, which Glick pointed out.
“Again, I don’t think there’s any need to make such remarks, but to arrest her and none of the other people verbally attacking her is absurd and strange.”
The day after Glick praised the government for its savvy handling of a potentially explosive situation, fully half of all Israeli Arab Knesset members ascended to the Temple Mount to protest “police brutality” in containing the violence of rioting Arabs in Al Aqsa mosque.
Hana Levi Julian