Daily Israel Report

Security Service Tries to 'Silence' Rabbi Over King David's Tomb

Temple Institute head says he felt 'like this was Russia', after being warned not to talk about reported transfer of Tomb to Vatican.
By Benny Toker, Ari Yashar
First Publish: 5/20/2014, 10:39 PM

'Silencing' Rabbi Yisrael Ariel
'Silencing' Rabbi Yisrael Ariel
Flash 90

Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, head of the Temple Institute, told Arutz Sheva that in recent days he received a letter from security sources requesting that he not "disturb the quiet" near King David's Tomb during the upcoming visit of Pope Francis, starting next Sunday.

"This Shabbat there will be a prayer rally in the David's Tomb Compound," said the rabbi, adding "unfortunately I got a notice from the Defense Department. They're trying to frighten me like this was Russia."

"They told me they don't want problems in the area of David's Tomb. Soon they'll tell me that I'm forbidden to breathe," commented Rabbi Ariel.

While the Minister of Public Security, the Chief Sephardic Rabbi and Israel's Ambassador to the Vatican have all denied reports that the government has plans to transfer to the Vatican parts of the Compound, which contains the room Christian's believe held Jesus's "Last Supper," Rabbi Ariel maintains various plans are afoot.

"They're coming up with all kinds of legal formulas to allow the Christians to have lots of prayers," said the rabbi, confirming plans reported by Arutz Sheva that would dramatically increase the number of days on which Christian services are held at the compound, from one day per year to 60.

Rabbi Ariel reported "already today, the Old City and the area of David's Tomb are full of Christians with big crosses on their shoulders. And precisely now, the eve of Jerusalem Day (next Wednesday), 47 years to the liberation of the city, the state of Israel strengthens the Christian rule of Jerusalem."

"It's not enough that the Muslims celebrate on the Temple Mount, now they'll let the Christians conduct 50 prayer services a day in the David's Tomb Compound," said the rabbi.

"Infringing Jewish rights, whitewashing Christian history"

The rabbi said that according to the law regulating holy sites it's forbidden to let Christians hold regular prayers at the Compound, noting that Jewish law forbids entering churches in most cases, which the changing of the status quo would effectively do to the site.

"According to the law on holy sites, David's Tomb is a holy site to the Jews; giving part of the Compound to Christians will create a halakhic (Jewish legal) problem for us to pray there, it's an infringement of our rights," explained the rabbi.

Rabbi Ariel also expressed his outrage over reports that the Education Ministry instructed history teachers to hold courses for their students about the pope.

"Christianity pursued the Jews in the crusades, whole communities were destroyed, hundreds of thousands of Jews were pursued. In the Tisha B'av kinot prayers we recall what happened in Worms (Germany during the crusades)," noted the rabbi.

"Let them teach the students about the burning of the Talmud, about the Inquisition, about the ghettos in Rome, about the oppressive government under the backing of the pope," Rabbi Ariel added. "Let them tell the students how Rabbi (Yitzhak) Herzog after the Holocaust asked the pope to save the children who were hidden in monasteries, and who unfortunately a portion of them to this day don't know they're Jewish."

Regarding the pope's visit, it is worth noting that he is beginning his trip in Israel in Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled Bethlehem, in a move Arab sources say is meant to "recognize Palestine" and help "end the occupation."

Reports surfaced in February from Rabbi Sergio Bergman, a member of the Argentinian parliament and close friend of Pope Francis, who said that the pope intends to define himself as the "Che Guevera of the Palestinians" and support their "struggle and rights" during his visit.

Jerusalem Councilman Aryeh King announced he would not attend an official welcoming of the pope unless he "will bring in his suitcase the treasures of the Jewish people that were stolen by his predecessors, treasures that today are located in the Vatican's basement."