TAKE THE TEMPLE MOUNT, PLEASE
By Yisrael Medad
Since 1967, Jews have not been permitted
to pray on the site,
either as an individual or in a prayer quorum.
One of the most resonating declarations in the history of the State of Israel, originating as if from the nation's soul, was that of Motta Gur, Paratroop Division commander, on the morning of Wednesday, June 8, 1967. His voice was heard over the army walkie-talkies and then, recorded, over the radio announcing that "The Temple Mount is in our hands!"
And now, 33 years later, the Temple Mount, as a Jewish sacred site, continues to slip through our fingers, as our hands open to achieve a dubious peace with the PLO's Yasser Arafat. The place which Prime Minister Ehud Barak termed the "nation's sanctified treasures" was almost immediately shunned after 1967 and its Jewish character relegated to benign neglect. Moshe Dayan symbolically handed over the key to the Temple Mount gates to the Moslem Wakf officials on June 17 and committed the site to their administration.
Throughout the three decades since then, Jews have not been permitted to pray on the site, either as an individual or in a prayer quorum. If he is too overtly recognizable as a Jew, if his fringes are outside his trousers or if he is carrying a Bible or other religious book, he will be banned from entrance. If he does succeed in passing through the green doors, he will be accompanied by an Israeli policeman and a Wakf guard, lest he murmur a Psalm.
A JEW, Jewish law dictates, does not belong on the Temple Mount, except if he de-Judaizes himself and assumes the form of a neutral tourist. The Chief Rabbinate doesn't want him there. The police do not want him there. And his government doesn't want him there.
The Antiquities Department cannot excavate there but volunteers of the Islamic Movement together with the Wakf employees bring in bulldozers and gouge out tons of earth containing artifacts and debris from over 2,000 years ago. Jewish history in dirt and stones are desecrated, both religiously and scientifically.
The same Barak who left the negotiating table at Camp David over the Temple Mount issue, allows the destructive activity to continue unabated while claiming in a conversation with Norwegian Foreign Minister Thorbjorn Jagland last week that "We are barred, for religious reasons, from conducting excavations on the Temple Mount." Barak's office later added that Israel wants an arrangement that would ban all archaeological excavations there. But Moslem digging and construction continues unabated.
The law of the land guarantees free access to the site. But the High Court of Justice, which backed women's wishes to pray at the Western Wall, denied that same basic freedom and right of prayer at a site most respected by them. How easy it is for the judges to ignore the secular law they have elevated to near-sanctity when Jewish sensitivity is the issue.
The camp of political progressives and liberals, normally so critical of clericalism, have championed any and all proposals that would wrest Jewish sovereignty from the site, including the idea of a "Divine sovereignty," which even arch-visionary Shimon Peres has ridiculed.
The Temple was twice destroyed by enemies of the Jews. We are now witnessing another effort to erase its memory from our national consciousness. How odd of Jews to be so confused.
(c) Jerusalem Post 2000
Yisrael Medad is active in promoting Jewish Rights on The Temple Mount.