Temple Mount Report Fuels Concern About Future of Holy Site

January 8, 2014 8:02 am 0 comments

A view of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Photo: Berthold Werner.

JNS.orgA recently revealed Israeli State Comptroller’s report that remains under a government gag order has ignited concern over the Muslim Waqf’s attempts to erase Jewish ties on the Temple Mount—Judaism’s holiest site—and Israeli authorities’ neglect of those activities.

The classified document, whose contents were published by the New York-based newspaper The Jewish Voice, details ongoing illegal excavations being carried out on the Temple Mount by the Muslim Waqf (trust) and places blame on those responsible for overseeing the site—namely the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Jerusalem Municipality, and the Israeli police. The report suggests that those Israeli bodies have been turning a blind eye to the damage caused by the Waqf pertaining to ancient Jewish archeological findings.

In response to the leak, attorney Aviad Visoly—chairman of the Joint Staff Movement of the Jewish Temple Mount Organizations, an umbrella for 27 bodies that advocate for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount—says that he has sent a letter to the state comptroller requesting an immediate removal of the gag order so that Members of Knesset can discuss its findings.

Visoly tells JNS.org that the goal of the Muslims on the Temple Mount “is to eliminate all remnants of Jewish history.” Nevertheless, he is optimistic that as a result of the report, along with a “tremendous rise” in the willingness of Jews to visit the Temple Mount, “we are on the verge of a revolution of a state of affairs in which for the first time in 2,000 years, Jews will be able to pray freely on the Temple Mount.” Visoly says that currently around 100,000 non-Muslims visit the site per year, with approximately a third of them being Jewish. Israel’s Chief Rabbinate opposes visits by Jews to the Temple Mount due to the concern that they may inadvertently step into an area that, according to halacha, is forbidden to enter unless one is ritually pure.

Yisrael Medad, the secretary of the El Har Hashem Temple Mount advocacy group and a member of the Temple Mount organizations’ coordinating council, tells JNS.org that while according to Israeli law Jewish worship on the Temple Mount is legal, there is “collusion between the government, police, and the courts, who don’t want any problems.” Police at the site forbid Jewish prayer, claiming that allowing it will cause the Muslims to riot or could even ignite another violent intifada (uprising).

Medad says that over the years, Israeli courts “have blindly accepted claims by the police that [Jewish worship] is illegal on the Temple Mount,” but that information contained in the comptroller’s report itself debunks that myth. Medad cites one instance in 1967 when Jewish prayer was temporarily banned, while the report explains in a footnote “that it appears that no general decision was made to forbid Jews from praying on the Temple Mount.”

According to Medad, the report shows “that whatever laudatory government aims are in protecting law and order, the status quo only exists for the Jews, and even worse, the Muslims are destroying archeological artifacts.”

“It’s one thing to say that the Temple Mount should be kept off the heater, but what they are actually doing is giving in on every single issue to Muslim fanaticism and destroying or not protecting anything Jewish there,” he says.

Like all Israeli governments since 1967, the current government “doesn’t want to give the Jews any rights on the Temple Mount other than free access to the site,” says Medad. Israeli authorities “haven’t done the minimum to protect Jewish history, archeology, and construction, which [by doing so] doesn’t have to ignite World War III,” he adds.

Yitzchak Reuven—assistant-director of the International Department at The Temple Institute, an educational, not-for-profit organization which focuses on the universal significance of the Holy Temple as a house of peace and prayer for all nations—tells JNS.org that he believes the comptroller’s document proves that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has in effect given the Israeli police full authority on the site to act on behalf of the Jerusalem Municipality, the body which is supposed to approve all construction in the city, and on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, which is tasked with maintaining a presence at all sites relating to historical archeological digs.

Reuven expresses grave concern in regard to extensive construction work currently being carried out by the Waqf “without supervision or authorization.” He says that the police “never say no the Muslim Waqf [for carrying out their projects], but always give them the green light.”Regarding the 1994 peace agreement between Israel and Jordan, which was supposed to ensure freedom of worship for all monotheistic faiths on the Temple Mount, Reuven says that “Jordan and [the Jordanian] Waqf have essentially reneged on the agreement, but nobody says anything about it.”

Israel has “willfully not exercising sovereignty over Temple Mount, thus creating a vacuum which the Waqf has filled,” claims Reuven. As a result, he says that Jews who ascend to visit the site are often screamed at and intimidated by Muslims who are hired and compensated by Raed Salah, the leader of the Northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, to sit on the Temple Mount for the purpose of disrupting visits by Jews as well as other non-Muslims.

“If the Muslims decided to cause a scene, the police [won’t stop them but] will remove the Jews from the area, since the Jews represent a path of least resistance. In light of the report, it seems incontrovertible that the police are getting specific instructions from their superiors and ultimately from the Prime Minister’s office that their jobs will be on the line, if they screw up [and there are disturbances],” Reuven says.

“The Temple Mount is used as an alarm by the Muslims to terrify a lot of people by saying that the Muslim world will rise up anytime a Jew moves a stone [at the site],” adds Reuven. “Israel has educated its own people to replace the importance and yearning of the Temple Mount with the Western Wall.”

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    JNS.org – Five months after Israeli forces tried to assassinate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif in Gaza, Deif appears to have signed a letter that the terrorist group claims he wrote in hiding. The letter, addressed to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, expressed Deif’s condolences for the death of Hezbollah terrorists during Sunday’s reported Israeli airstrike in Syria. Deif is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, but he has not been seen in public for years. According to the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    JNS.org – The cracks that had been simply painted over for so long began to show in Ferguson, Mo., in November 2014, but in truth they had begun to open wide much earlier—on Saturday, July 13, 2013. That is when a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of culpability for the death of a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin. The cracks receded from view over time, as other news obscured them. Then came the evening of Aug. 9, 2014, [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    A controversial scene in the season finale of Homeland sparked outrage by comparing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to a fictional Taliban leader, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. In the season 4 finale episode, which aired on Dec. 21, CIA black ops director Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham, justifies a deal he made with a Taliban leader by referencing Begin. He makes the remarks in a conversation with former CIA director Saul Berenson, a Jewish character played by Mandy [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.