Op-Ed: On the Temple Mount? Don't Even Think!
On Arutz Sheva last Week: First Published: 12/13/2012, 3:16 PM
Veteran Educator Arrested for 'Crime of Prayer'
Veteran Israeli educator, Education Prize awardee Sarah Eliash was arrested on the Temple Mount on charges of praying at the site
Veteran Israeli educator and Education Prize awardee Sarah Eliash was arrested this week on the Temple Mount on charges of praying at the site, activists in organizations advocating open Jewish prayer at the site said.
And on Arutz Sheva this week: First Published 12/18//12, 2:49 P.M>
And now, for my article.
I was arrested. Yes, arrested in my home town of New York City. To be more precise, I was arrested on Thursday night, December 12, 2012 at approximately 7:30 PM on the corner of 96th Street & 3rd Avenue. To be perfectly exact, my wife and I stood at 1711 – 3rd Avenue in New York City waiting for the light to change so that we might cross the street.
And then, in a flash and with no warning, three police cars screeched to a halt in front of us and six police officers stepped out of the cars with their batons ready to strike me. One officer, a female, had actually un-holstered her gun while shouting at me to drop to the floor and stretch out prone. Of course I complied.
Within minutes, six more vehicles came to a screeching halt in front of us. One of the vehicles was emblazoned with the words “BOMB SQUAD” as a number of heavily armed police officers jumped out even before the vehicle came to a stop. The area looked like a war zone.
My wife watched in horror and total shock as I was handcuffed, pulled upright by the collar of my coat and shoved into a police lorry which whisked to the 23rd. precinct on 102nd street. Handcuffed, finger-printed, I was remanded to the holding pen where I sat and waited for my wife (she walked to the station) so that she would contact my attorney to pay me a visit and try to get me released. I was humiliated, confused and outraged.
Why was I arrested? Hold on to your seats, dear readers, because you are bound to either call me a liar, shake your head in disbelief or simply heave at the audacity of it all.
You see, it was our misfortune to be standing in front of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, probably the largest Islamic Center in the United States. We didn’t go in, we did not walk near it nor did we touch the gates surrounding the massive compound. We did not spit, litter or make any derogatory gestures. I didn’t even look at the direction of the building. We patiently waited for the light to change.
However, it seems that from within the compound a worshiper or the gardner or perhaps just a regular visitor noticed my lips moving as if I’m whispering. Or better yet, as if I’m praying. That, my readers, ignited his fuse and he immediately called in New York's Finest. The rest, as I mentioned above, is history.
Preposterous, you say? Impossible? You say that no one, ever, is arrested anywhere in the US for whispering a silent prayer…or even a loud one. You insist that it’s simply a fable which I created in order to defame NY, to slander the New York City fine police force and to besmirch the good name of the upstanding citizens of the Moslem faith? You are sure that there isn’t a living Judge who would ever tolerate such curtailment of innocent, free speech, not to mention, hindering simple, religious practices.
And, for the record, I was not praying. I was whistling Dixie!
Dear reader, you are right. The above is a fantasy, a made up story, a pure and simple fable. This cannot happen in NY and for that matter, as this is being written, nowhere in the United States. The constitution protects any person, Jewish, Moslem, Christian, Buddhist, etc., from such unwarranted and despicable acts.
But it can, and it does happen in the State of Israel. And in Jerusalem, of all places. It happens on the holiest site to Judaism, the Temple Mount.. It occurs on a regular basis. The arrests come swiftly at the whim of the Waqf, the Moslem religious authority which controls the Mount. It is strictly forbidden for a Jew to utter a prayer or even to whisper it to himself. Never mind whisper.
If one is suspected of such crime, he or she will be arrested and carried off to the nearest police station to be booked and to have to answer to a criminal charge.
Are you reading this? Do you believe what you are reading? Let me explain it more succinctly. A Jew, any Jew, a man, a woman, child, young or old and of any shape or height, is forbidden by law – Israeli law – to pray, to gesture as if praying, or to whisper even a word which G-d forbid may be construed as a prayer. And even if you did not commit such a horrendous crime, the thought police, can still have you arrested on the suspicion of wanting to pray. In other words, your mind, your thoughts are now under suspicion.
Is this clear now? You can be arrested on suspicion of wanting to pray. How exactly do they know that you were thinking of praying? In fact, how do they know you were thinking at all?
Next time when you visit the Kotel, stand back a few feet from the Wall and simply observe the multitudes of tourists who come to the Wall to pray. Watch how Christians, Shintoists, Buddhists, Moslems and other religions approach the Wall, bend their head to touch the hallowed stones and mutter a prayer or two. They come here, to the remnants of our Holy Temple to beseech, to plead, to thank. And they are always welcome. After all, the Prophets said: “…For Your House Shall Be Called a House of Prayer for All Nations….”
But, re-read the above prophesy. For All Nations - other nations. A mere few feet from the wall, is the Jewish Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest of holy and Jews – only Jews - are forbidden to even think of praying. Christians are tolerated as is every other religion. Not Jews.
Next time you visit Jerusalem, stay as far away from the Temple Mount as possible. You don’t want anyone to think that you may be thinking of committing such a horrendous crime.
Better yet, don’t even think!