Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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 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 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 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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.

Current day month ye@r *


  • Arts and Culture Features Jerry Seinfeld to Make Comedy Debut in Israel

    Jerry Seinfeld to Make Comedy Debut in Israel – Famed Jewish-American comedian and actor Jerry Seinfeld is slated to make his comedic debut in Israel later this year. Seinfeld, who was born in Brooklyn to Jewish parents from the Ukraine and Syria, will perform in Tel Aviv’s Mitvtachim Menorah Arena on Dec. 19 as part of a world tour. The comedian is most known for his enormously popular NBC sitcom Seinfeld, which ran from 1989-1998 and is widely considered one of the greatest TV series of all time. […]

    Read more →
  • Features Food American Kids Taste Israeli Food, Offer Tidbits About the Country (VIDEO)

    American Kids Taste Israeli Food, Offer Tidbits About the Country (VIDEO)

    A new video circulating online shows eight American children reacting — mostly positively — to their first taste of Israeli eggplant salad/dip, known in Hebrew as “salat hatzilim” and in other parts of the Levant as baba ganoush. The clip, by, features U.S. youngsters given a plate with schnitzel, slices of pita, hummus and baba ganoush. “If someone had a name like that, they’d be so sad,” one boy said, mispronouncing it as “ba-ga-doosh.” A few of the kids were able to identify correctly the elements on the plate […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Pioneers/Philanthropists ‘Start-Up Nation’ Israel to Host Forbes Magazine Young Entrepreneurs Summit

    ‘Start-Up Nation’ Israel to Host Forbes Magazine Young Entrepreneurs Summit – Forbes magazine announced Tuesday that it will host its Under 30 EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) Summit in Israel for the first time in April 2016. The conference is expected to bring together some 600 young entrepreneurs, with 200 from Europe, 200 from the U.S., and 200 from Israel. The summit has been hosted in Philadelphia for the past two years. It will include presentations, speeches, a pitch competition, and cultural immersion opportunities in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Beliefs and concepts What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David?

    What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David? –  “What’s that huge white bridal dress floating over the Tower of David?” That’s what visitors to Jerusalem’s Old City asked last week. The wedding gown, created by leading Israeli artist Motti Mizrachi, is part of the 2nd Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art, an event that blew into town as the Sukkot holiday got underway. Mizrachi, who lives and works in Tel Aviv, created the dress that floats majestically over the Tower of David, the main exhibition site […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    Israel is a holiday destination on many travelers’ bucket lists. No matter the style of holiday you are after, Israel has the answer. Whether you prefer to relax by the beach, hike up mountains in the desert, visit religious and historical sites, eat your way through the country or just enjoy some retail therapy, your journey through Israel will be one to remember. While there are obviously so many things to see and do, here is a list of 10 of […]

    Read more →
  • Pioneers/Philanthropists US & Canada Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO

    Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO – Jewish American fashion mogul Ralph Lauren announced his plan to step down as chief executive officer of the renowned fashion brand. The head of Gap Inc’s Old Navy brand will take over the position. The 75-year-old Lauren, who founded Ralph Lauren Corp. in 1967, will continue to serve as executive chairman and will continue leading the fashion house’s design team, according to a statement by the company. After the announcement, Ralph Lauren shares rose 3.79 percent while Gap shares […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Sports US & Canada Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish boxer Dustin Fleischer, who said his quest is to become the first world champion descended from a Holocaust survivor, stayed unbeaten with a first-round knockout. Fleischer, nicknamed “The White Tiger,” moved to 4-0 with the defeat of Ira Frank on Saturday night in Beach Haven, New Jersey, near his home, he reported after the fight on his Facebook page. The 26-year-old welterweight has won all his bouts by knockout. Read full story at JTA.

    Read more →
  • Featured Israel Pioneers/Philanthropists Meet Israel’s Santa Claus, the Trustee Tasked With Handing Out Leona Helmsley’s Billions (INTERVIEW)

    Meet Israel’s Santa Claus, the Trustee Tasked With Handing Out Leona Helmsley’s Billions (INTERVIEW)

    Renowned New York attorney Sandor (Sandy) Frankel, one of four trustees of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, was in Israel earlier this month to look at additional philanthropic options and to observe the progress of those endeavors already funded – to the tune of multi-millions. Frankel, who recently joined the prestigious Park Avenue law firm Otterbourg P.C., met with Israeli politicians and other bigwigs to get a sense from them about which projects in the country […]

    Read more →