A Matter of Temple Mount Regulations

Yisrael Medad,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Yisrael Medad
I am a resident of Shiloh, with my wife and children, and now grandchildren, since 1981, having come on Aliyah in 1970. I have served in a volunteer capacity as a Yesha Council spokesperson, twice a member of Amana's secretariat, Benjamin Regional Council plenum member and mayor of Shiloh. I was a parliamentary aide for Geula Cohen and two other MKs, an advisor to a Minister, vice-chairman and executive director of Israel's Media Watch and currently, am Information and Content Resource coordinator for the Begin Heritage Center.

A thought came to me (no, not in a brilliant flash of light) regarding the Temple Mount.

One of the central difficulties in advancing the full implementation of the Law for the Protection of the Holy Places is the position of the High Court of Jusice which views the issue not fully in terms of juridicial application.

The Law states:

Protection of Holy Places Law 5727 (1967)*

The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places.

Whosoever desecrates or otherwise violates a Holy Place shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of seven years.

Whosoever does anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of five years.

This Law shall add to, and not derogate from, any other law.

The Minister of Religious Affairs is charged with the implementation of this Law, and he may, after consultation with, or upon the proposal of, representatives of the religions concerned and with the consent of the Minister of Justice make regulations as to any matter relating to such implementation.

There are several problems.

In the first instance, the whole policy of the governments of Israel since 1967 has been - do not alter in any way the status quo.  That might be acceptable but as we know, or should, the status quo only applies to Jews.  Muslims have constructed two undergound mosques (and we recently discovered that the Barclay Gate vestibule has also been rennovated) in  addition to gardening (to cover up Herodian paving stones), walkways, building open-air prayer platforms Iwnere they play soccer) and they hold political demonstrations within the esplanade.  Oh, and besides Sheikh Raed Salah being prosecuted for incitement, have you ever heard of a Muslim tried for hurting my feelings when they destroy historical and cultural and religious artifacts on the Temple Mount?

In the second instance, the "sensitivity" quotient of the site, that is, its "flashpoint level", is what concerns the justices, not justice, not human rights, not what the law guarantees.  To estimate that, the justices depend on the ... police.  They have no independent verification method to confirm what the police tell them.

And in the third instance, that last element in the law - the "regulations" - is a real stumbling-block.  In the last forty-six years, they have not been made. So, the judges say, how can we provide you with assistance if there exist no regulations.

What would those regulations define?  Well, the days Jews can enter freely; the hours of those days; the places where Jews can exercise their freedom of access, their freedom of worship.

A Catch-22 situation in a sense.  If there are no regulations, the argument goes, how can we permit you to do something, like praying, if it is administratively non-existent?  After all, in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron there are regulations.

All this has bothered me for decades.  But the flash came.

If the lack of regulations handicap the court from providing Jews our rights, well, the lack of such should equally handicap the government from preventing us from having our rights fulfilled.  Full bureaucratic equality.

What's 'good' for the government, and is 'bad' for us, should be turned on its head: what's 'bad' for the government must be 'good' for us.  If the regulations are required for us to possess and exercise rights, regulations must be applicable to the government in order for it to prevent us our rights.  But, since the regulations do not exist, how can the government deny us rights, except in the case of immediate threats to public order.

Is that flashy or what?