Israel Must Guarantee Freedom Of Worship On The Temple Mount in Jerusalem

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UPDATE 8 am Israel time Monday:

Egypt has continued its headlong plunge into Islamist government over the last 24 hours. President Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood has assumed dictatorial powers to set Egyptian public policy, sign international treaties, and form an Assembly to draft a new constitution.

And Morsi’s “slow” sacking of Egyptian military officers has accelerated to breathtaking speed (Turkish PM Erdogan, by contrast, took 10 years to get rid of the non-Islamist military elite in opposition).  The following officers were forced to retire yesterday: Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi who headed the ruling military council SCAF;  Sami Annan, Tantawi’s number two man; Abd El Aziz Seif-Eldeen, the head of the Egyptian Air Force; and Mohab Mamish, the head of the Egyptian Navy.

These “retirements” come after the events of Saturday when Morsi fired the commander of the presidential guard and appointed new chiefs of security for Cairo and the police’s central security force.

Islamism is indeed on the march on Israel’s border, a march aided and abetted by the naive governments of the West.

TODAY’S BLOG:

Why is this Jerusalem policeman removing the young man and his friends from the Temple Mount? Incredibly because they are wearing a "Jewish symbol" on their heads, a kipa (yarmulke).

As regular readers of this blog know, your humble servant has repeatedly railed against the virtual exclusion of Jews, Jewish symbols, and Jewish prayer at Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Even yesterday came the bizarre news came that a group of girls belonging to the Lehava Bnei Akiva youth movement in Rishon LeZion have been forbidden by the Jerusalem police from carrying signs or saying in a procession next week through the Jewish Quarter that “The Temple Mount is Ours (Har HaBayit BeYadeinu!”). As you may not know, that sentence was famously uttered by Mordechai Gur, the commander of the 55th (Reserve) Paratroopers Brigade, when his Israeli soldiers took the Temple Mount during the 1967 war.

On the left, the iconic photograph made in 1967 when Israeli paratroopers reached the Western Wall; on the right the same three paratroopers--Zion Karasanti, Yitzhak Yifat and Haim Oshri--at the Wall in 2007. Ironically, the Jerusalem police would not permit the paratroopers in their uniforms to be on Temple Mount today (photo courtesy of Lev Lalev).

It simply defies all rational thought that the Jerusalem Police have become so cowed by the prospect of Islamic disturbance that a group of teenaged girls cannot walk with signs through the Jewish Quarter that state a simple truth: “The Temple Mount is Ours.”

So you can imagine my surprise, even shock, when I came across this paragraph yesterday criticizing the rampant religious discrimination on the Temple Mount:

“A government policy since 1967, repeatedly upheld by the Supreme Court and routinely enforced by the police citing security concerns, denies all non-Muslims opportunities to worship at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. While the government ensured limited access to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif to everyone regardless of religious beliefs, only Muslims are allowed to pray at the site, although their access has been occasionally restricted due to security concerns. Police regulated traffic in and out of the compound and removed non-Muslim visitors if they appeared to be praying. Since 2000 the Jordanian Waqf that manages the site has restricted non-Muslims from entering the Dome of the Rock shrine and Al-Aqsa Mosque. Non-Muslim religious symbols are not allowed to be worn on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.”

Where do you think this came from? Some “far right” orthodox Jewish religious group? Or perhaps an “extremist” Israeli “nationalistic organization? Or maybe even from Gershon Solomon’s  constantly defamed Temple Mount Faithful group?

Gershon Solomon (the man with the cane in the center of the picture) leading his Temple Mount Faithful group up to main entrance of the Temple Mount. Of course the Jerusalem Police will never allow him or his followers on the Mount.

You may be as surprised as your humble servant to discover that this criticism of Israeli policy is taken from the U.S. State Department’s 2011 “International Religious Freedom Report” (click here for the link) which was released to the U.S. Congress two weeks ago on July 30th.

It is unbelievable to find the U.S. State Department–which has been regularly and deservedly criticized in this blog for such things as not even recognizing that Jerusalem is the capital or even part of Israel–criticizing the Israeli government, and more specifically the Jerusalem police, for kowtowing to the Islamic Wakf and its dictates about who can come to the Mount and what they can do when they get there.

In response to the State Department declaration, it was announced yesterday that Knesset member Arye Eldad has drafted a bill that will take the power to determine who worships on the Temple Mount out of the hands of the Jerusalem Police--and out of the hands of the Islamic Wakf.

The proposed bill will mandate that the Mount must be open to Jews every day of the week except Friday (the Muslim holy day) and on certain other Muslim holidays. It also mandates that  the Mount will be open to Muslims every day except Saturday (the Jewish holy day) and on certain other Jewish holidays. More specifically, the bill states that Jews would be allowed to worship on the Temple Mount from 8:00-11:00, 14:00-18:00 and 21:00-23:00 and that Muslims could pray at the site from 4:00-7:00, 11:00-14:00 and 18:00-21:00. Christians would be able to visit the Mount during some of the Jewish and Muslim worship times.

As Eldad said: “The Temple Mount is the holiest place for the Jewish People, where the First and Second Temple stood. It is also a holy place for Muslims, and is the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It also has a special status in Christianity.” The bill is scheduled to be presented when the Knesset returns from its summer recess.

It is frankly pathetic that the Knesset must legislate religious freedom for Jews and Christians on the Temple Mount–but in the face of the religious discrimination of the Jerusalem Police and the Islamic Wakf, your humble servant wholeheartedly supports such a law.

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