I will start with this despicable video: “Jews Blocked From Drinking Water on the Temple Mount.”
Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, was established in 2013 by Yehuda Joshua Glick. Born in the USA, now an Israeli Orthodox rabbi and a politician, Glick’s dogma is the expansion of Jewish access to the Temple Mount.
In June 2016, I attempted visiting Temple Mount. I was denied entry and subsequently expressed my dismay.
What is The Temple Mount?
The Temple Mount, or Har HaBáyit, means the “Mount of the House.” ‘House’ is referring to the two Jewish sacred Temples that once stood on this hilltop located in the city of Jerusalem.
Under the Mosques built there, the Jewish people’s roots and their history in the land of Israel are hidden and can be revealed.
In simple terms, Temple Mount symbolizes the heart and soul that binds the Jews into one nation.
Recently, when visiting Israel, I sat with Yaacov Hayman, the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation’s Director, regarding discrimination against Jews on the Temple Mount.
“The Foundation took upon itself a two-fold task: the first ask is to raise the consciousness of the Jews in Israel and the Diaspora that the Temple Mount is the holiest place for Jews and for humanity. The second task is to encourage Jews to visit the site, in order to bring an end to the discrimination and harassment of Jews one experiences while vising the site,” Yaacov explains.
In Israel’s Six Day War victory, Israel regained sovereignty over Temple Mount that was held hostage by Jordan for nineteen long years.
Sadly, and when looking back it was a huge mistake, the government of Israel of that time handed back the keys of the Temple Mount to the Waqf of Jordan.
The Waqf is an Islamic religious trust that controls and manages the current Islamic edifices on and around the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, including the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, both are built on the Temple Mount platform where the two Jewish Temples once stood.
In Arabic the Temple Mount is called Haram al-Sharif, meaning, “the Noble Sanctuary.”
Though they are intransigent and would like the state of affairs to differ, the Arab-Muslims understand well that the Jews are ‘here to stay’ in their homeland and Jerusalem is their capital city.
In 1948, hostile Arab nations were faced with the fact that Jews had returned to their ancient land in order to establish their third commonwealth in the newly declared sovereign state of Israel. The Six Day War, in 1967 brought about Jewish sovereignty on Temple Mount. However, out of fear of Arab violence, Israel does not enforce its sovereignty on the Temple Mount on all that is connected to Jewish rights.
Moreover, the Muslims have taken full advantage of Israel’s non-intervention policy and have illegally built two additional mosques on the Mount.
The Change Must Come and Fast
A change in the Temple Mount discriminatory status must be made bottom up. Jews must exercise their rights there. If not, nothing will change and the discrimination and harassment of non-Muslim visitors will continue.
Nowadays, visiting hours to non-Muslims are 07:30 AM-to-10:30 AM and 12:30 PM-to-1:30 PM, excluding Friday and Saturday, meaning a working person can rarely go there. Identifiably Jewish visitors are clamped into a group of 20-25 and if you miss your group your visit time is limited. Despite these severe limitations, Jewish visitations to the Temple Mount are increasing yearly and are now approaching 50,000 annually.
In the past, the Mount was opened to visitors on Shabbat. However, when, in 2000, the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ascended the Mount on Shabbat, violent riots ensued and the site was closed for three years. Then, in 2003, the Temple Mount was re-opened to non-Muslims, but this did not include being open on Shabbat (Sabbath).
Sadly, the discrimination against Jews on the Temple Mount is a blatant contradiction of Israel’s status as a Jewish and Democratic state.
Jews must demand a change in visiting hours. Jews must demand a change in the ‘status quo,’ as politicians address the state of affairs on Temple Mount, which is a one-way street against Jewish interests. So long as this status quo continues, it paradoxically negates Jewish interests while encouraging Arab interests in the country that sees itself as the nation state of the Jewish people.
Temple Mount From a Jewish Perspective
According to the Prophet Isaiah, Temple Mount is a place of prayer for all people. However, the Muslims controlling the Mount do not practice religious tolerance.
The solution is for Israel to exercise complete control and sovereignty over the Temple Mount, allowing freedom of worship there as is practiced everywhere else in Israel. There is no rational reason as to why there cannot be shared sacred space on the Temple Mount, just as there is in the Cave of the Patriarchs, in Hebron.
Unfortunately, the Temple Mount is contracted out to Jordanian, Islamist-jihadist extremists who have no concept of mutual respect and coexistence. Although Jordan is largely considered to be a “moderate” Arab state, that has signed a peace treaty with Israel, the fact is that it aids and abets the practice of jihad and radicalization on the Temple Mount, with no desire to live in peace with the Jewish state.
As is with every sacred place Jews oversee in the land of Israel, if Temple Mount is controlled and managed by Jews, all people of all religions will be able to visit and/or pray there. The Muslim paper tiger will be finally dealt with the proper way. If we in Israel will be determined to enforce civil and religious rights on the Temple Mount, there would be no entrance for harassing jihadists.
So long as Muslims disrespect the Jews and are determined to deny them equal access to the Temple Mount, there is no chance of peace. It is only Israel that can ensure a shared sacred place, thereby, guaranteeing genuine peace.
The Future Goals
The first goal is to increase the number of Jews visiting the Mount to at least 200,000 annually. Larger numbers if Jews vising the Temple Mount will make discriminating against them impossible. The police will not be able to arrest a large number of Jews who pray, as they do now with a smaller number. With a large number of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, equality will become mainstream and the Jewish return to the Temple Mount will become fact.
“After accomplishing our first goal, the second goal of building the Third Jewish Temple will be just a mater of time,” Yaacov adds. “The best way to bring Jews to the Temple Mount is to first to bring the Temple Mount to the Jews,” says Yaacov. “We will visit schools, synagogues, community centers, and give lectures and spread the word, one Jew at a time. We will produce informative videos and will offer tours on the Temple Mount.”
Israel Independence Fund funds the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation. The Temple Mount Heritage Foundation needs financial support to help build its organization and achieve its goals.
As the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation raises the public’s consciousness, they will right the wrong.