The Temple Mount 5780: A generation dispossessed

Eli Ezra,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Eli Ezra
Eli Ezra was born and educated in England, and graduated from University with Bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. In 2005, he moved to Israel and spent a couple of years working in the engineering industry. He later moved back to London to further his career. Eli Hopes to eventually move back to Israel and live there permenantly.

The date was 7th of June 1967, The IDF had just liberated the Temple Mount from the arabs in a stunning military victory. The Temple mount was in Jewish hands for the for the first time in nearly 2000 years, and the Israeli Soldiers were wandering around in an almost dreamlike state.

It was at this point, a few hours after the Temple Mount was liberated that an extraordinary conversation took place. The conversation was between Gen. Uzi Narkiss and chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren, and it varies depending on which version of the story you believe.

According to Narkiss’s Version, Goren suggested that they pack the Dome of the Rock with 100Kg of explosives and ‘rid themselves of it once and for all’ . He told Narkiss that his name would go down in the history books, and that this was their golden opportunity because tomorrow it would already be too late. Narkiss refused, telling Goren that he was already assured of his place in the history of Jerusalem, and that he would throw Goren in Jail if he did not desist. Goren walked away dejectedly.

Another version of the story according to Goren’s former aid Rabbi Menachem HaCohen, says that Goren told Narkiss that it would not have been a 'terrible shame' if during the course of the war, a bomb would have dropped on the shrine obliterating it. Narkiss replied saying that he was glad this did not happen.

Both versions agree that Goren made the suggestion to blow up the mosque, and that Narkiss refused.

In a tape recording of a speech made in 1967 to a military convention, Goren could be heard saying:

“I told this to the defence minister (Moshe Dayan) and he said, 'I understand what you are saying, but do you really think we should have blown up the mosque?' and I said, 'Certainly we should have blown it up.'

"It is a tragedy for generations that we did not do so. ... I myself would have gone up there and wiped it off the ground completely so that there was no trace that there was ever a Mosque of Omar there."

A short time after the liberation of the Temple Mount, the decision was made to return the keys of the Temple Mount to the Waqf, In what must be considered in hindsight, as one of the greatest missed opportunities in Jewish history, when an ideological defeat was somehow snatched from the jaws of an extraordinary military victory.

Just what was the message that was sent out by the Israeli government when they made this historic blunder? That we do not really belong here? We do not know what we are doing here? Take it! You were here first? If these rootless zionists thought that they could trade the Temple Mount in exchange for peaceful co-existence with the arabs, then history has proven that they were very much mistaken, and the struggle for the Temple Mount remains at the core of the Israel-arab conflict. The ramifications of that fateful decision have now returned to haunt us.

The Temple Mount is the holiest place in Judaism, but the arabs cannot and will never accept the right of Jews to pray there. The entire arab world understands that if they were to accept the right of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, it would be a tacit admission that the Jewish life in Israel predates the arab presence in the land. This would not only undermine the arab claim to Jerusalem but also their claim to the land of Israel, and call the entire arab narrative into question.

For their part, the Israeli government has always seen the Temple Mount as something of an unwanted burden. Israel was founded as a western style democracy and a secular state in 1948. Successive Israeli governments have understood that imposing sovereignty over Temple Mount has the potential to act as a catalyst, transforming the secular nature of the state of Israel and into a Jewish one; and which would cause  an earthquake that would shake Medinat Yisrael to its very foundations. They are also fearful that upsetting the delicate status quo on the Temple Mount could spark a religious war with the arabs that would leave Israel isolated, and threaten the very existence of the Medinat Yisrael . In Short the Israeli government has neither the will or the desire to uphold the Jewish right of prayer on the Temple Mount.

In fact the decision to hand the Keys to the Temple Mount to the arabs is a prime example of how the land for peace formula is a flawed concept and should be consigned to the dust bin of history.  It is this rootless zionist mentality of Israel’s leaders that has caused the borders of the state of Israel to recede, encouraged our enemies, and led to a long defeat of Zionism over the past 40 years. And by surrendering sovereignty over our holiest site we have called into question our historic right to our ancestral homeland. After all, it is this same rootless Zionist mentality that has led us to bring Judea and Samaria to the negotiating table and agree to discuss the status of certain settlements.  By even agreeing to negotiate over these settlements the Israeli government have not only undermined the legitimacy of the rest of the settlements in Judea and Samaria, but the legitimacy of The Jewish State itself.

If Israel has no right to the Temple Mount, then it has no right to Judea and Samaria. If Israel has no right to Judea and Samaria, then what right does it have to Haifa, Tel Aviv or Beersheba? The last thing Israel needs is the emergence of a terrorist entity in Judea and Samaria, akin to the regime in Gaza, with designs over the rest of Israel. In other words, the more we cut away from the cloth of Zionism, the more our enemies will be encouraged by this and continue to tug at its threads, in the hope it will come apart at the seams or even lead to it unravelling entirely.

The Israeli government fails to understand that Israel is no ordinary land, it is the Land that God promised to his chosen people, a Holy land, and by attempting to carve it up like just another piece of real estate they are not only going against the Torah and the principles of Judaism. If the Land of Israel can be compared to a delicious cake, then Jerusalem would surely be the icing on this cake, and the Temple Mount would be the cherry on top of the icing on the cake.

In recent years there are thee further examples of Israel's failure to assert sovereignty over the Temple Mount that stand out. The decision in 1994 to allow the major renovation of the dome of the rock can in hindsight be seen as a prime example. The project was funded by King Hussein, who raised £4.4 million by selling one of his properties in London. This money was used to gild the dome of the rock, which was previously composed of a leaky aluminium composite. The new gold dome represented a reassertion of Islam's claim to Jerusalem's holy sites and an islamisation of the Temple Mount, which now dominates the Jerusalem skyline. If the leaders of Israel thought that this act of goodwill would improve relations with their arab neighbours, they were very much mistaken. Despite a peace treaty being signed between Israel and Jordan, diplomatic relations between the two countries are now widely seen as being at an all time low.

A further example of Israel's abdication of sovereignty on the Temple Mount, is their impotence to prevent repeated descrations by the muslim waqf. This began in 1996 when "renovation" work began in the Solomon's stable are in order to convert it into a new mosque. In the process 400 truck loads of soil containing valuable historic and archaeological artefacts were removed from the Solomon's Stable area and dumped in the Kidron Valley, in a form of archaeological terrorism and can be seen as an attempt by the waqf to erase the historic Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, and represents a further attempt to Islamise it .

In 1999 Prime minister Ehud Barak gave his oral consent to the construction of a huge new entrance to this new mosque, which was carried out by bulldozer and without archaeological supervision. According to Israeli law, a salvage excavation to record any archaeology in the proposed construction zone must be conducted prior to any such construction. No such excavation took place. And despite a law being passed in 2005, little or nothing has been done in practice to stop the repeated archeological crimes of the Waqf, their flagrant violations of Israeli law or their nefarious activities on the Temple Mount.

The entire history of the relationshiship between Medinat Yisrael and the Temple Mount is in fact, a litany of failures an missed opportunities to impose sovereignty over our holiest site. This has led to the creation of a power vacuum which has been filled with terrorists and jihadists who regularly preach antisemitic hatred from the al aqsa mosque, and are committed to Israel's destruction.

This failure to impose sovereignty of the Temple Mount has recently led to the death of an Israeli police officer who was shot at point blank range by an arab terrorist who was operating from the Temple Mount. This tragic death could have been easily prevented if the Israeli police had not given arab terrorists free hand to act with impunity on the Temple Mount. The Israeli Police did make a belated attempt to impose tighter security restrictions. Unfortunately these efforts came too late to save the life of the police officer and were removed after the Israeli government were forced into yet another embarrassing capitulation, following outrage from the muslim world and an arab boycott of the Temple Mount. The entire episode only served to prove the old adage “whoever controls the Temple Mount, controls Jerusalem”.

All of these factors have contributed to the creation of a section of Israeli youth that have been increasingly abandoned, betrayed, and dispossessed by the state and their own leaders. They have been stereotyped as as being religious zealots and extremists because of their beliefs.  Their strong desire to live in a Jewish state governed by Torah law has now brought them into a collision course with Medinat Yisrael, and on occasion they have acted by taking the law into their own hands. A criticism that has often been made of Israel’s leaders is that they are not real jews but zionists. I would argue, however, that they are in fact not even real Zionists. After all, what is Zionism without Mount Zion ?(the Temple Mount)

In order for us to prevail, we must be prepared to fight for what is most precious to us, and to return to traditional Jewish values.  The holiday of Chanukah commemorates the rededication of the Temple, and the message of Chanukah is to bring light into dark places. If ever the Temple Mount needed rededication it is now, and I hope one day we will bring the light of Chanukah back to the Temple Mount.