Taking Our Destiny Into Our Own Hands

We continue to ignore the tragedy.

Ari Soffer

OpEds לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Ari Soffer
A few months ago, there were two stories that gained much attention from the media in Israel, as well as internationally. The first was the much-talked-about sleaze and corruption that has hit almost every single politician and public figure in Israel. The trail has lead from more minor MKs, to the former Justice Minister Chaim Ramon, Israeli President Moshe Katzav, Prime Minster Ehud Olmert and Chief of Police Moshe Karadi. (In fact, so far had this stench of corruption emanated, that the authorities were seemingly unable to find a single "clean" public figure to take up the post of Chief of Police. Yaakov Ganot, who succeeded Karadi, was in fact implicated in a corruption scandal in 1994, although he was acquitted.)

The other major story to burst into the headlines at the time was that of the violent riots by Muslims in Jerusalem, lead by the popular Islamist leader Sheikh Raad Salah, in what they said was a response to a series of repairs being carried out on a walkway at the Rambam (or Mughrabim) Gate, which was damaged during a snowstorm not so long ago. Muslims worldwide accused the Israeli authorities of seeking to "undermine" and "vandalise" the "Al-Aksa Mosque" and its surroundings - despite the fact that the dig was located far away from the Al-Aksa complex.

In the face of a significant amount of international pressure, coupled with violent Arab intimidation, the Israeli government once again caved in, in part, agreeing to allow Turkish officials to "inspect" the site. Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski joined in calls to suspend, or even scrap, the dig altogether. Once again, the Islamic world was shown that if they want to get their own way, all they need to do is resort to violence.

At a first glance, these two stories seemed completely unrelated, but upon further examination, each is revealed as just a symptom of a far greater problem.

It is said that "he who controls the Temple Mount, controls all of Israel," and today this could not be more obviously true. After the insane move of actually handing the Temple Mount over to the Waqf (Islamic religious authority) only hours after its conquest in 1967, the Israel authorities and media, as well as the international community, have ignored the criminal desecration by the Islamic authorities of thousands of years' worth of valuable artifacts, dating back to the times of the First and Second Jewish Temples, which once stood on the Temple Mount. This blatant attempt by the Waqf to deny a Jewish connection to the Mount (as expressed in their many sermons), is only compounded by the fact that legally, only Muslims may pray on the Mount, with Jews often forbidden even to enter the area (that is, the areas that are permitted to be entered by Jewish Law). The latest rioting was, in fact, totally within the overall policy of the Waqf to deny entry to the Mount to all non-Muslims - the Rambam Gate just so happens to be the only path up to the Temple Mount that is used by non-Muslims.

What greater "sleaze" exists than when Jewish politicians hand away our holiest site?
What greater corruption can there be, what greater "sleaze" exists, than when Jewish politicians and supposed "leaders" hand away our holiest site to be desecrated? And it is not only the Temple Mount; we all remember the sites of Muslim rioters tearing apart and burning down the Tomb of Joseph, the burning down of the ancient Shalom Al Yisrael synagogue in Jericho, among other instances.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, z.tz.l., went to great pains to stress the importance of the "secular Zionist" movement of his time, in that it was rebuilding Eretz Yisrael when religious communities were shirking their duty to do so. Yet, at the very same time, he emphasised that if the secular Zionists would remain devoid of Torah, then eventually the time would come when they would turn rotten and have to be "shed" as a klippa ("shell"), which covers the holy light of the Jewish Nation.

Today, we see that the rabbi's analysis could not be truer. Corruption began the moment the politicians decided that Israel would be a mere "State of the Jews," in which Judaism was no more the state religion than Islam or Christianity. This, instead of a true, Jewish State, in which the Torah would be accepted in full by the nation and all hostile elements would be excluded.

But the religious are not blameless, either. Besides the lamentable lack of religious participation in the setting up of Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael, even today we continue to ignore the tragedy that happens before our very eyes. We pray at the Kotel, and we think that is enough. Never mind that our holiest site is still off-limits to us, and that the Wakf daily desecrates it, digging up and destroying or dumping all remains from the Temples - no, the Kotel is all we need. How sad that we have indeed forgotten Jerusalem, as it says in the Kuzari: just as the spiritual centre of Israel is Jerusalem, the spiritual centre of Jerusalem is the Temple Mount.

Right-wing, left-wing, "centrist" - they have all failed us; as have the pseudo-religious parties of the Knesset, whose MKs have had many years to shout out loud about abandoning the Temple Mount, but who have chosen not to in exchange for ministerial positions and government funding. It is time for the Jewish people as a whole to shake off these corrupt individuals and demand the Law of Israel in the Land of Israel. It is time that we stood up for the honour of Jerusalem, as it is being trampled by those who wish to deny our connection to it (and how sad it is that the Muslims are willing to take to the streets for the sake of Jerusalem, but we are not).

If we do not, then we are all complicit in the national corruption; what is at stake here is more than just the reputation of the Israeli government or of one or another minister, but the very sanctity of the Land of Israel itself.