Daniel Ben-Simon
Daniel Ben-SimonIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Former Labor MK Daniel Ben-Simon cut short a visit to the Temple Mount on Sunday, after he personally witnessed the discrimination by Israeli police towards Jewish visitors to the holy site.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva about the experience on Monday, Ben-Simon said he was surprised, already at the start of his visit, to see that Jews are forced to wait in long, crowded lines to enter one of the holiest sites in the world.

Ben-Simon said that when he finally reached the end of the line-up after a long and unpleasant wait, he was told that the Temple Mount is closed due to what was described as “tension”. He later discovered that the source of this tension is a Quran that fell from the hands of a Muslim worshiper who came to the Temple Mount.

The Arab worshiper claimed that an Israeli police officer had deliberately dropped the book from her hand, but Ben-Simon expressed doubt at the truthfulness of the story and said it was unacceptable that the area was closed off to Jews because of such a minor event.

"Because of a fallen book they close the Temple Mount to hundreds of people who are waiting to get in?” he said. “The Minister of Internal Security must be summoned and asked about the reality in which the police are on high alert because of a fallen book. Who’s in charge here? All this is done without explanation.”

Later in the afternoon Ben-Simon, who was visiting the compound as part of research he is conducting for a book he’s planning to write, returned to the Temple Mount, getting in this time, and was shocked by what he discovered.

“I was surprised by the intensity of the tension. People looking at you from all sides, examining the movements of your lips, and heaven forbid if they move in what seems like a prayer," he said. "When I saw this I asked my companions to leave. This is not a visit. I do not feel comfortable when Waqf and police accompany each step I make. I cut the visit short and left within ten minutes.”

Ben-Simon admitted that despite having served as an MK, he was previously unaware that this reality is what Jews are always facing on the Temple Mount, and said that most Israeli MKs do not visit the site and are unaware of this absurd reality.

"The vast majority of those present were tourists. Israelis do not visit," he said, adding, "This is an unpleasant experience that I would not like to go through again. I expect to get a little respect in a place of prayer.”

The former parliamentarian said he finds it difficult to understand how Israel got to the current situation. He likened the corridor leading to the Temple Mount to a military facility where one cannot look left and right, fearing his looks may be interpreted incorrectly and cause rage.

Ben-Simon said the Israeli system should examine the situation at the Temple Mount, though he admitted it would be hard to change things in the current political reality.

At the same time, Ben-Simon said, it is “an impossible situation that anyone who comes to the Temple Mount is suspected of wanting to blow up the compound.” He added that delegations of Knesset members should be taken on a tour of the Temple Mount so they can see the situation firsthand and then closely examine appropriate ways to solve it.

"I did not know the problem existed when I was a Knesset member,” he admitted.

Israel liberated the Temple Mount during the 1967 Six Day War, leaving the Waqf in charge of the compound.

The Waqf, in return, has removed every sign of ancient Jewish presence at the Jewish holy site. At the entrance to the Temple Mount, a Waqf sign says, “The Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard and everything in it is Islamic property.”

Israeli Police, in an attempt to appease the Waqf, discriminate against Jews. They limit the number of Jewish worshippers allowed on the Temple Mount at one time in order to prevent conflict with Muslim worshippers. They often close the Mount to Jews in response to Muslim riots, as Ben-Simon saw for himself on Sunday, despite evidence that Muslim riots have been planned in advance for the specific purpose of forcing Jews out.

Arabs continuously accuse Israel of "Judaizing" the Temple Mount, sometimes resorting to ridiculous propaganda such as accusing Israel of using chemicals to erode the foundations of the mosque in order to cause it to collapse.

At the same time the Waqf consistently destroys Jewish antiquities on the Temple Mount in a direct violation of a ruling by the Supreme Court.