Dissonant Temple Mount Status in Focus as Religious, Political Forces Collide (VIDEO)

August 9, 2013 5:08 pm 6 comments

A view of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Photo: wiki commons.

Before Jerusalem becomes the stage for the US-led peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority next Wednesday, an Israeli Knesset committee will meet on Sunday to tackle a question religious Jews have been asking since 1967, when Israel gained control of the Temple Mount and left authority over the religious hotspot in the hands of the Muslim Waqf Council.

The confounding issue of Israeli police not allowing Jews to pray on the Temple Mount is being taken up by Likud lawmaker Miri Regev’s Interior Committee, according to The Temple Institute’s Rabbi Chaim Richman, who led a prayer vigil at the Temple Mount as a peaceful protest this week.

“There has been a grass roots awakening of the plight of the beleaguered Temple Mount,” Rabbi Richman told The Algemeiner in an interview. “Recently, there has been a lot of clarification, an enlightenment to be more aware of the importance of visiting there, and a great upswing of numbers, with the whole subject becoming much more a part of the national and political discourse.”

In honor of Rosh Chodesh Elul, this past Wednesday, the first day of the final month of the Hebrew calendar, a time of repentance with a daily shofar blowing, before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Repentance, ten days later, Rabbi Richman led a 7:30 AM minyan, or prayer quorum, of 200 men at the Mugrabi Gate, beyond the site where the Jewish Temple once stood, now occupied by the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque.

The protest on Wednesday aimed to draw attention to the fact that Jews were denied access to what is considered the holiest site in Judaism for nearly the entire Muslim holy month of Ramadan, “in an unprecedented move to appease Islamist threats against Jewish visitors,” Rabbi Richman said.

What concerned the rabbi and his supporters more than the attitude of the Israeli police towards Ramadan, was their disrespect for Tisha B’Av, the 9th of the previous Hebrew month of Av, when Jews mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples on that site.

“This was a big precedent, as its never happened before, even when the month of Av coincided with Ramadan; even during Roman rule Jews were allowed to pray here on Tisha B’Av,” the rabbi said. “After having received assurance from police that we would be able to ascend, we found, once we got here, fasting all day in the heat, and without any announcement that it would be closed to us.”

Zeev Elkin, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, was also denied access to the Temple Mount on Tisha B’ Av, his office said, although he was able to return for a brief, 20-minute visit the next day.

His press attache confirmed to The Algemeiner that police refused access by the political leader, adding, “The question of the Temple Mount has been an important issue for the Deputy Foreign Minister even before being the head of the coalition, and he’s been leading lots of discussion around the topic at the Knesset. He sees the Temple as very important for Jews, and he’s very interested in the question.”

But his office declined to comment on when they thought this divisive issue would be broached by US Secretary of State John Kerry, or his emissary, Ambassador Martin Indyk, or how it might be handled in the context of peace negotiations. The underlying theme of Tisha B’ Av, beyond commemorating the destruction, has been the lack of unity among Jews, with the conflict over even praying at the ruins being the example that proves the rule, Rabbi Richman said.

“Israel is the sole bastion of human rights in the Middle East, but expediency is denying Jews their due. We are well known here [in Israel] for protecting the rights of minorities through our High Court of Justice ever person has the rights to pray in all the holy places, but there is a police practice, that officially doesn’t exist; really, it’s a practice of discrimination.”

“An Orthodox man walks up to the gate, he has to identify himself as a Jew, his name is registered in a book. He’s told if he moves his lips, closes his eyes, shuffles, rip his shirt, or any other ‘sudden movement’ that might be interpreted as praying to his G-d, he could be forcibly removed, arrested, thrown in jail. Last time they let me in, I was accompanied by a a phalanx of guards, from both the Muslim Waqf and Israeli Police, who were standing there, next to me, just waiting for me to act like a Jew. It makes no sense,” he said.

Moshe Feiglin, a Knesset member who heads the Manhigut Yehudit faction of Israel’s governing Likud party, and a member of MK Regev’s Interior Committee, echoed Rabbi Richman’s sentiments, speaking to The Algemeiner while on a trip to meet supporters in New York this week. “Spirituality, politics, all of this comes together around today’s discussion of the Temple Mount; it is all one question we need to resolve,” he said.

Watch a video of the 200-man minyan at the gates of the Temple Mount, below:

6 Comments

  • The building of the third Temple and the freedom of the Jews to be ‘Jewish’ on the Temple Mount will not occur UNTIL HaShem ordains it. Please note, there are 4 back-to-back Blood Red Moons and 2 sun eclipses scheduled for Passover and Succoth in 2014/2015/2016 patterned after the same BRM in 1949/1950 and 1967/1968, just succeeding the birth of Israel and the recapturing of Jerusalem. The Jewish people did not possess the Temple Mount then because it was not time yet. Is it just a coincidence that there will be a finalization of the peace deal brokered by the US by Nisan, 2014? HaShem has declared that this will be a ‘covenant of death’ for Israel (Isaiah 28:14-18)which will begin the 70th week period (Daniel 9:24-27, the second half of which will be the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble (Jeremiah 30:7). Oh Israel, seek Adoni while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near, seek the truth (emet) above all things – and He will set you free.

  • Dearest friends of G-d, I am a Christian in South-Africa. My heart goes out to all the Jews and Christians in Jerusalem for what you should go through at this stage. I know that our beliefs might be different, but if you could just grant me a second of your time. Jesus foretold and said that we as believers in Christ will be persecuted for our faith, so we will be treated unfairly, but with that comes the most beautiful reward-eternal life with our G-d. I pray that above all things, all of us will deepen our relationship with our Heavenly Father to hear and listen what His will is, and what each of us should do for the Kingdom of Heaven. May we walk in peace, hope and above all – Love …

  • Dr Gedeon Herschberg

    This issue should be included in the so called “Peace Talks”

  • Ivan Gur-Arie

    When is this world going to stop kow towing to the muslim bloodsuckers who think that the world owes them all the freedoms and rights with respect but nothing in return. They should be slapped down like a spoiled child and made to understand right from wrong and proper behavior.

    • Elliot J. Stamler

      Islam as a religion is steeped into intolerance and hostility to all other faiths. This is not to say every Moslem is that way, especially in America, or even most–but at least a huge minority are. What is galling is that Israel out of expediency permits these bigots to exclude Jews from the Temple Mount. Why? Because Moslems claim it to be exclusively theirs. But they claim the same thing about all of Jerusalem and all of
      “Palestine.” When oh when will the Israelis stop coddling Arabs? They should be plainly told: Look, the Temple Mount is sacred to you and to us. So you and we are going to share it. Moslems and Jews will have full access to worship equally. AND THAT IS THE WAY IT’S GOING TO BE!!!

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