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Top Religious Zionist Rabbi: Allow Jewish Prayer on Temple Mount

Rabbi Benny Lau condemns anti-Jewish discrimination, supports rights of Jews to pray at the site even though he does not.
By Yaakov Levi
First Publish: 4/3/2014, 12:09 PM

Jewish man on the Temple Mount
Jewish man on the Temple Mount
Flash 90

Influential Religious Zionist Rabbi Benny Lau – a nephew of Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Meir Lau – said Thursday that he supported the rights of Yehuda Glick and his Temple Mount Faithful group to ascend the Mount to pray, even if he himself does not do so.

In a Facebook posting, Rabbi Lau, who heads the large Ramban Congregation in Jerusalem, wrote that he himself has never ascended the Mount. “I am among those who believe that everyone must be united on this before taking such a major step as ascending the Mount. The priority is unity, only then do we merit the House of G-d,” as the Temple is known in Jewish literature.

However, he said, “when I see a video in which a members of the Muslim Waqf curses Glick and find out that the victim is the one who gets punished, I cannot sit quietly. I do not agree with Glick's vision, but no one can deny that he is a loyal citizen of Israel. He serves in the IDF, he pays his taxes, and he obeys the law. In the name of “human rights and equality, he should be allow to ascend the Temple Mount and pray.”

The incident Rabbi Lau referred to took place on March 17, when police detained Glick after he videotaped the Waqf official who hurled obscene curses at him. After Glick took photographs on the Mount and shared them on the internet, police confiscated his cellular phone and detained him. Only when he agreed to stop sharing photos did police give back his phone.

A more severe incident occurred just two days ago, in which a Jewish visitor to the Mount was physically assaulted by a Waqf official - and was detained by police when he called for help.

Glick's regular peaceful visits to the Temple Mount are often met with harassment, but police concerns over offending Muslim sensitivities on Judaism's holiest site - which is also the site of the Al Aqsa Islamic complex - have often led to Glick being detained to "diffuse" the situation, instead of his attackers. Several months ago, police issued an order distancing Glick from the Temple Mount; only after a hunger strike by Glick and pressure from the political echelon did police rescind the order.

Despite being the holiest site in Judaism, Jewish access to the Temple Mount is very limited - including a blanket ban on Jewish worship there - in what activists condemn as a capitulation to Muslim extremism. Israeli police, in an attempt to appease the Muslim Waqf which was left in charge of the compound after the 1967 Six Day War, ban Jews from praying or performing any other form of worship.

Police sometimes close the Mount to Jews altogether in response to Muslim riots - for days or weeks at a time - despite evidence that such violence is usually planned in advance for the specific purpose of forcing Jews out.

The Waqf's campaign to "Islamize" the Temple Mount by purging any Jewish connection to it has also extended to the vandalism and destruction of ancient Jewish artifacts at the site, which once housed the two Holy Temple of Jerusalem.