Recent reports of Arabs throwing stones on Temple Mount and the ongoing harassment of Jewish worshippers during Sukkot tells me that liberating Judaism’s holiest site from Muslim occupation is long overdue.
The government’s appeasement of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, which controls the Temple Mount, is an affront to the Jewish people. After all, the Temple Mount is where HaShem chose to rest the Divine Presence.
It is a disgrace that Jews are abused and pelted with stones. It is a scandal that Jews are subject to expulsion by the police if they are caught openly praying on the Temple Mount.
Earlier this year, a young British Jewish student was accosted by Waqf officials, who demanded that he remove his yarmulke, which they said they found to be “offensive.” The student later told reporters that while he has experienced anti-Semitism in England, he “never thought that in Judaism’s holiest site I would be subjugated to such discrimination.”
Meanwhile, the Waqf allows illegal digging to take place. In the process, valuable artifacts and important historical remnants from the two Jewish temples are being thrown away. It is clear that this is an attempt to disconnect the people of Israel from their inheritance.
UNESCO, the UN’s cultural agency, has done nothing to prevent such blatant cultural and historical vandalism. Not only is this shameful, it is a violation of its promise to “create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values.”
It is patently clear that non-Jews cannot be trusted to protect Jewish sites. Following Jordan’s occupation of Judea and Samaria, the Arabs went to great efforts to erase Jewish history. The graveyard on the Mount of Olives was desecrated and all but one of the thirty five synagogues in the Old City were destroyed.
It is obvious that Islamic control of the Temple Mount is motivated by politics, not religion. During the Jordanian occupation, no foreign Arab leader came to pray in the al-Aqsa Mosque. The fact that Muslims continue to pray with their backsides toward the Temple Mount is an affront to HaShem and the Jewish people.
While it is still forbidden for Jews to set foot upon the actual location of the Holy Temple, the rabbinic prohibition against visiting the Tempe Mount is giving way to a heartfelt desire to reincorporate the site into Jewish religious life. It is significant that a number of rabbis have visited the complex, as well as schoolchildren.
Therefore, it is time for Israel to once again make history and recapture the Temple Mount. Whether this can be achieved without causing another intifada remains to be seen. But the symbolic importance of taking control should not be underestimated. It would send a clear message to the Palestinians (and to the world) that Jerusalem is a Jewish city and will never be divided.