Spreading Dark Rumors of ‘Talmudic Rituals,’ Jordanian Islamic Authority Bans Visitors From Sacred Jewish Site
Religious authorities in Jordan announced on Friday that the Tomb of Aaron the High Priest would be closed to tourists visiting without prior permission, after a group of Israeli pilgrims conducted an “illegal” prayer service at the site.
Abdul Nasser Musa Abu al-Basal, who controls Islamic affairs and holy sites in Jordan and eastern Jerusalem on behalf of the Waqf, an Islamic charity, was reported to have made the decision after video of the prayer service was widely shared online.
Tradition holds that Aaron — the first of the “Kohanim,” or Jewish priests, and the brother of Moses, who led the Israelite Exodus from Egypt — was buried on Mt. Hor, near Petra. The site is known locally as Jabal Haroun.
Jordanian news outlets excitedly depicted the Israeli visitors as militant Jewish settlers determined to extend the occupation of the West Bank to the East Bank, replete with demonizing references to the Jewish Talmud.
One broadcaster claimed that “Jordanians were shocked to see the Jewish rabbis freely performing their Talmudic rituals [sic] within Jordanian territory, especially in the south, which the [Israeli] occupation promotes as Jewish soil.”
The same report quoted an unnamed woman saying that “the problem with the Zionists is they think that any place of worship is theirs, and they have the right to take it over.”
Without elaborating further, the report alleged that “the rabbis” who had arrived at the tomb “were themselves breaking into the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque [in Jerusalem] on a daily basis without any restraint.”
Rony Ayalon, a tour guide with the Israeli group, asserted that the group had coordinated its visit in advance. He also claimed Jordanian authorities had treated the tourists in a humiliating manner from the moment they arrived at the border.
“They stripped everyone down,” Ayalon told the Ynet news site. “Women had their head coverings removed, men had their kippahs taken off…anyone found with a religious object had it confiscated.”