Overlooking the Temple Mount
Overlooking the Temple Mount Israel news photo: Flash 90

An incident last week in which Islamic Waqf officials told a young Jewish man to remove his kippah (yalmulka) on the Temple Mount represents a step forward in the Islamic organiation's struggle against Jewish ties to the site, sources told Arutz Sheva.

The young man was visiting the Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, as part of a tour group from Europe. When Waqf officials saw his kippah, they ordered him to remove it, saying, “This is a holy place.”

“It was very uncomfortable,” he said. He decided to leave rather than remove his kippah.

In response to a police commander’s suggestion that he should have filed a complaint, the young man explained, “I wouldn’t know how to. I didn’t see any police, I didn’t see anyone to tell.”

The incident left him concerned for Israel’s freedom of worship, he noted.

‘Jews Harassed All the Time’
One frequent visitor to the Temple Mount explained that while Israeli Jewish groups face strict limitations and even outright discrimination when visiting the Mount, groups from abroad are normally treated differently. He told Arutz Sheva he had never heard of a Jewish member of a non-Israeli group being harassed in the past.

“For that to happen under our jurisdiction at the holiest site is somewhat new and somewhat worrying,” he said.

The source, who is familiar with the story, said that contrary to previous reports the officials who harassed the visitor were definitely affiliated with the Waqf. “Only the Waqf walk around with walkie-talkies and also have a uniform,” he explained.

The police response to the incident was “totally standard,” he said – and not reasonable. “Why would a tourist know what the protocol is, and where to complain, when he’s accosted by people who look official?”

In any case, he added, “There wouldn’t be anything done if a complaint was made. Jews are harassed constantly when they go up there.”

Call to Limit Waqf’s Role
Yitzchak Reuven of the Temple Institute said the incident fits into a clear pattern of deliberate harassment. “It is obvious from years of experience that the Waqf's single intent vis-à-vis Jews on the Temple Mount is to make them feel unwelcome, unwanted and like trespassers anywhere they might be on the Mount,” he said.

The solution, he suggested, is for Israel’s police to get involved. “It is unacceptable that the police allow Jewish youth groups from abroad to be monitored by the Waqf without Israeli policemen present,” he said. “A policeman should either be attached to every group which goes up or should be visibly stationed across the Mount wherever such a group might be so that any incident of anti-Jewish harassment can be immediately and easily reported to the police.”

Waqf employees should not be allowed to communicate with non-Muslims “except via an Israeli policeman,” he said.

Reuven urged Jews visiting Israel to be aware of their rights. “There is absolutely no place in Israel where it is forbidden for any reason whatsoever to wear a kippah. This is your right as a Jew in the land of Israel,” he said.

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