Op-Ed: What Have We Become?
Temple Mount, Har HaBayit, is where Judaism's holiest site exists, where the two holy Temples of Israel stood, and where some Jewish traditions teach that the creation of the world began. Jews pray at the Kotel (the Western Wall) but not on the Temple Mount. Why is this?
To quote CAMERA, the excellent pro-Israel letter writing organization, which knows its facts: “The Western Wall is the remnant of the outer retaining wall built by Herod to level the ground and expand the area of the compound housing the Second Jewish Temple. Its holiness derives from its proximity to the Temple site. For the last several hundred years, Jews have prayed at the Western Wall because it was the closest accessible place to the holiest site.”
The sight of Jews worshipping in fervent prayer at the Kotel while high above on the Temple Mount, the Holiest of all Jewish sites bar none, Muslim worshippers look down upon the Jews with contempt, sneering and occasionally throwing rocks upon the heads of the Jews, is a shameful, desolating and humiliating spectacle.
How can it be that this epicenter of Judaism, the Mount itself, where the Biblical Isaac was brought for sacrifice, where the Holy of Holies and Ark of the Covenant housing the Ten Commandments once stood, and where the Temple was rebuilt before being destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, now is occupied by the Jew-hating Muslim Waqf?
How is it that these Islamists, aided and abetted by an Israeli police force, are in virtual control?
This degrading, shaming and demeaning state of affairs must end, whatever the consequences. Where now lies the spirit of the Maccabees who rid the Temple of pagan despoilers and rededicated it to the One and Only G-d?
We know that on the very last day of the defensive and miraculous Six Day War, the war the Jewish state was forced to fight against Arab and Muslim aggression, Moshe Dayan committed a calamitous act when he gave the keys to the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest of all sites, to the Jordanian religious occupying body, the notorious Waqf.
Jewish deliverance and liberation was fatally betrayed on that shameful day; a cause now for profound lamentation. And what bitter fruit must we now consume?
Jews who visit the Mount are subject to humiliating and severe restrictions. On Judaism’s holiest site, a Jew must not pray; not even the suspicion of lips moving is permitted. That is a “crime” for which the Jewish police, acting on behalf of the Waqf, will arrest you or the Muslim Arabs, those who call themselves Palestinians, will viciously attack you.
On the Temple Mount, deference, dhimmi like deference, to the “lordly” Muslim authorities is the order of the day. If, a Muslim believes he is offended, Jews suffer. Have Jews not learned from the centuries of degradation at the hands of the Church in Europe and at the hands of the Mosque throughout Islam? Must it again be repeated now in the reconstituted Jewish state and in the very heart of the Jewish eternal capital city: Jerusalem?
Despite court orders rejecting attempts to intimidate and drive Jews from the Mount, which illegally infringe upon the right to freedom of religion, no such effort is made to curb the appalling anti-Jewish extremism of the Waqf. What have Jews become if this towering outrage is allowed to continue?
To their credit, Temple Mount activists, those brave Jews who fight against the abandonment of the Temple Mount by the Israeli government, have often cited such restrictions as an added imperative for Jews to frequent the Temple Mount; as a way of asserting Jewish rights at the holiest site in Israel.
Though the Temples are long since destroyed, the site remains forever the epicenter of Jewish prayer - not exclusively for the followers of Islam - and must become once again the destination for mass Jewish pilgrimage.
It is true that some respected Orthodox rabbis, including Zionist ones, oppose Jews ascending to the Temple Mount for fear of treading on areas which are universally agreed to be "out of bounds" according to Jewish law and due to their extreme sanctity. However, they, too, mourn the control given to the Wakf and would like the Mount to be a sacred site off limits to all until proper research can be conducted on where the forbidden areas are located.
According to the opinion of Rabbi Richman, and the Temple Mount activists speaking of those rabbis who fear ascending to the Mount:
“The Rambam himself clearly disagrees with them, and defines moreh mikdash as a positive command to ascend the mount, but in a certain way that shows one's awe for the place and for the sake of performing a mitzvah such as prayer, as opposed to just a casual visit."
Rabbi Richman pointed out that, “People were aliya laregel for hundreds of years after the destruction of the Second Temple and that in the 15th century, the Jewish scholar, Rabbi David ben Zimra (known as the Radbaz), spoke of the custom of Jerusalem's Jews ascending to the Temple Mount on a regular basis to pray.”
Other rabbis claim that the areas frequented are not known accurately today.
While Jews today stand against the Western Wall (the Kotel) praying, above them upon the Temple Mount the Muslim Waqf is relentlessly destroying Jewish antiquities, ripping from the very soil all evidence of Jewish history, even using bulldozers while being protected by the Israeli police.
It is a monumental blot on Israel’s leadership and Jewry everywhere that this cultural and religious holocaust is being allowed to continue daily within the very heart of Jerusalem and the Jewish state.
Cowardice and fear of Muslim extremism is encouraging the Waqf to continue to commit these outrages. What the Islamists on the Mount are perpetrating is a relentless extirpation of everything that binds the Jewish people and faith to the holiest of all Jewish sites. It should not be allowed to continue for one hour more. The Israeli police on the Mount are complicit in an act of cultural and religious genocide.
With Kerry and Obama eagerly attempting to wrest Judea and Samaria, the ancestral and biblical heartland, away from the Jewish people and the Waqf systematically destroying all evidence of Jewish patrimony on the Temple Mount, much of this Jewish generation in Israel and in the Diaspora is tragically found wanting.
Will Jews ever wake up before it is too late?
Victor Sharpe is a freelance writer and author of the acclaimed trilogy, Politicide: The attempted murder of the Jewish state.