Muslim convert to Judaism arrested for praying on Temple Mount

Former South Lebanon Army militiaman who converted from Islam to Judaism, arrested for saying 'Shema Yisrael' on Temple Mount.

David Rosenberg ,

Temple Mount
Temple Mount
Flash 90

Earlier this month, Meir Mizrachi, a former Lebanese militiaman who converted to Judaism, was arrested during a visit to the Temple Mount, after he recited a traditional Jewish prayer on the holy site.

In an interview this week with Makor Rishon, Mizrachi discussed his arrest for praying on the holiest site in Judaism, as well as his decision to leave Islam.

Forty-four-year-old Meir Mizrachi was born Munir Mundar, and grew up in a Shi’ite Muslim home in southern Lebanon. At the age of 12, Hezbollah terrorists murdered his mother and sister, after one of his older brothers joined the South Lebanon Army. Mundar’s mother and sister had also been targeted as employees of an Israeli-run base in southern Lebanon, with his mother working as a cook.

Two years after they began working on the base, Hezbollah terrorists broke into the Mundar family’s house and opened fire, killing Mundar’s mother and sister. A second sister was wounded in the attack.

Later becoming a member of the SLA, which was allied with Israel during the 1980s and 1990s, Mundar was first brought to Israel after he was injured by a mine. Mundar returned to Israel in 2000, when Israel withdraw its forces from southern Lebanon.

More than 6,000 SLA militiamen and their relatives sought refuge in Israel after the IDF withdrew, while thousands more were captured and tried in Lebanon.

Years after he crossed the border and was given Israeli citizenship, Mundar began the process to convert to Judaism, completing his conversion at a Haifa rabbinical court two years ago. Mundar adopted the Hebrew name Meir Mizrachi as part of the conversion process.

“I was born a Muslim, and many of you will say that I just want to benefit from your country and give nothing in return,” Mizrachi wrote in a 2016 social media post quoted by Ami Magazine.

“So I want you to know that I have fought for Israel. I have fought for the safety of every citizen…. I want you to know that I am studying Torah, and after a long process, I have completed my conversion. I am a proud Jew.”

The turning point for Mundar came in 2013 on Yom Kippur, when he was invited to take part in prayer services. It was the first time Mundar had been exposed to traditional Jewish prayer, and the experience ultimately led him to apply for conversion with the Haifa rabbinate court.

Mizrachi says he was motivated to convert by his faith, formed by decades of experiences with Jews both in southern Lebanon and Israel.

“As a Muslim,” Mizrachi told Makor Rishon, “I suffered. No one would look at me. Whenever anything happened with the SLA, always it was only the Jews that saved us.” Mizrachi emphasized that he is religiously observant, keeping the Sabbath and holidays according to Jewish tradition.

During the Passover holiday earlier this month, Mizrachi was arrested after he recited the traditional “Shema Yisrael” prayer on the Temple Mount.

The holiest site in Judaism, the Temple Mount is under the authority of the Jordanian Waqf, an Islamic trust, which prohibits non-Muslim prayer, and places extensive restrictions on non-Muslim visitors.

“The Muslims believe in the Koran,” Mizrachi said, expressing skepticism over Muslim claims of a religious connection to the Temple Mount.

“If they can show me one chapter, verse, or even one word from the Koran that even hints at the Temple Mount, I’d be ready to let them have it. But it’s just a myth. Just talk. The head of Hamas gave an interview a few years back to an Egyptian channel and admitted that all of the Arabs in the country are immigrants from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. They came from Arab countries. They have no tradition, no connection tying them to here. In the Bible, Jerusalem is mentioned many times. In the Koran [Jerusalem] is never mentioned. They [Muslims] are occupiers here, no us.”

“It doesn’t bother me that I was arrested, it bothers me the fact that a Jew like me was arrested for reciting the ‘Shema’. If it would be the other way around, if someone Muslim would recite part of the Koran or something like that, all of the Muslims would back him. So why aren’t we like them, backing each other up?”

Mizrachi blamed the Israeli left for the restrictions placed on Jews on the Temple Mount, accusing them of supporting terrorists.

“The left rules here, and the left backs terrorists. During this past Independence Day, I participated in a protest rally against an ‘alternative ceremony’, and I saw [at the alternative event] the families of terrorists who had murdered Jews… coming to the [alternative] ceremony, alongside the left-wingers who support them.”

Earlier this month, an Israeli teen was banned from the Temple Mount for half a year, after he carried an Israeli flag on the holy site during Israeli Independence Day.

The teen, an activist in the "Temple Mount Faithful" movement, went to the Temple Mount on Independence Day together with another group of Jews who visited the site.

The boy was arrested by the police and released after a hearing was held in which it was decided to distance him from the Temple Mount. Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevi signed valid for six months.