Muslims pray on Temple Mount facing Mecca
Muslims pray on Temple Mount facing MeccaSliman Khader/Flash 90

The Temple Mount is not really in our hands. We pray at the feet of the Arabs as they throw rocks at us.

The Arabs have structures on the Temple Mount. They have the Dome of the Rock, the Al Aqsa Mosque, and other structures. What do we have there?

The Arabs have olive groves on the Temple Mount. Their children play soccer there while their wives have picnics and the men pray. Jews are hardly even allowed entrance, and when we do get to enter, we are led as tourists, to observe the Arabs in their domain, where they exert ownership.

It is true that Jews have military and political control of the Temple Mount, but only generically as ‘Israelis,’ not as Jews. We share our national identity with the Arabs and serve their interests, and even then, we are seen as an army of occupation.

Our control of the Temple Mount is not even recognized by our own government. We gave control back to the Islamic Waqf, a Jordanian trust controlled and funded by the King of Jordan. This “waqf” is basically an endowment for the administration of property owned by Muslims.

Our own government does not recognize Jewish ownership of its Holiest and arguably its only truly Holy site, the only place on earth where Jews can observe many of God’s Commandments. This is the Place God Chose to Rest His Name and yet we chose to hand it over to our enemies.

God Answered our prayers and Returned us to the Land of Israel and to the Temple Mount itself, to the Holy of Holies, but we act as if we are here as Western colonists or as an army of occupation.

An Army of Occupation?

When the UN voted to allow the formation of a Jewish state in Israel, it did not grant us control of Jerusalem. The UN designated Jerusalem an international city, intending to administer the holy sites of the monotheistic religions, not grant Jews or Arabs control over them.

According to the established precedent, Jews would pray at the Western Wall, Muslims on the Temple Mount, and Christians at their various churches. This was acceptable to the Jews, as we were hardly granted access to the Temple Mount in the past, and we got used to it. Our own rabbis even warned against going there, lest we inadvertently desecrate the Holiest Site to Judaism.

Yet this plan did not come to fruition. The Arabs rejected the UN Partition Plan, and Jordan violently seized control of the Old City of Jerusalem, expelling all Jews and barring our entrance. The Western Wall Plaza was turned into a garbage dump and centuries-old synagogues were blown up. No “status quo” or religious freedom existed for the Jews. We were shot at from the Old City walls.

When we returned in the Six Day War, the just response would have been to blow up the Arab mosques and bar their entrance to the Temple Mount. We were no longer committed to past agreements broken by the Arabs and dishonored by the world. We could have expelled the Arabs from Jerusalem as they had done to us. Instead, we shamed ourselves as an army of occupation, embarrassed by our own miraculous success.

As if We Are the Romans

We act as if we are the Romans and the Arabs are the Jews. Towards the end of the Second Temple period, Roman legions occupied Jerusalem, daring to station troops on the Temple Mount.

With each new outrage committed by the Romans, desecrating the sanctity of the Temple or of the Temple Mount, Jews became ever more enraged, willing to riot and rebel against Rome. We revolted multiple times, willing to die en masse for the Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount was as sensitive a site then as it is now, but for more obvious reasons. It contained the Holy of Holies to Israel, the seat of God’s Throne on earth, and the House of His Glory. Its sanctification is a national obligation for Israel, in accordance with the strict requirements of the Torah and the severe consequences of failure.

Yet more than the service of God and the sanctification of His Holy Sanctuary, the Temple Mount, or the Temple itself, with its Altar and courtyards, serve a role in defining Israel as a nation. Without it, Israel is like a body without a soul.

Israel has never remained a nation long in its Land without a Tabernacle or Temple. Their destruction has been the mark of our exile and banishment from God. To have the Arabs tread upon the Temple Mount, while Jews wail below at the Wailing Wall, is a sign of our continued exile.

And yet, in the irony of things, the Arabs pretend to be the Jews of the past, defending the sanctity of the Temple Mount, outraged by the police presence there. With each Jewish mention of a return to the Temple Mount, the Arabs riot violently and decry the desecration of their mosque, as if it were the Jewish Temple.

The Arabs are willing to die for their mosque on the Temple Mount, like the Jews of the past who were willing to die for their Temple, and they are willing to revolt en masse against Israel and start a religious war over it. On the other hand, Jews are afraid to offend the Arabs and incite their anger, backing down to their outrageous demands.

The Temple Mount is most Holy to Israel. The Arabs placing their mosque there to block us from serving God does not make it holy to them. That is why the Arabs pray on the Temple Mount with their backsides to the Dome of the Rock and their heads to Mecca, desecrating the Holy of Holies of Israel in a most shameful way.

The Arabs desecrate God and His Holy Name, which remains attached to the Temple Mount. Their presence on the Temple Mount is a desecration.

Yshai Amichaiis a father of six and an author with a legal education, whose books advocate upholding the Torah as a national Constitution. He may be contacted at: [email protected]