Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish People

This isn’t the first time this has happened, but it shocks me every time:

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Jewish father and daughter were arrested for allegedly praying on the Temple Mount, according to reports.

An Arab policeman arrested the two visitors to the mount Wednesday morning as they were being shown around the site by a relative, who is a volunteer tour guide at the site.

David Kirschenbaum took his daughter to visit the Temple Mount on the day before her wedding, The Jerusalem Post reported. Kirschenbaum told the newspaper he was pointing out sites in Jerusalem from the site and police took his daughter’s nodding for praying.

Non-Muslims are not permitted to pray on the Temple Mount, including moving their lips in silent prayer.

How did this situation come to be? From 1948 to 1967 the Jordanian occupation forbade Jews to approach the area near the Temple Mount, or indeed to enter East Jerusalem. But in 1967, Israel recaptured East Jerusalem and, supposedly, made the holy places of all three religions accessible to all. So how can a clearly antisemitic — there’s no other word — policy be in effect on the Temple Mount?

Here is an explanation, written in 2000 when Ehud Barak offered some kind of sovereignty (the exact details are not clear) over the Temple Mount to Yasser Arafat — who, of course, rejected the offer and started the second intifada:

The roots of the current standoff, it would appear, lie in decisions made by defense minister Moshe Dayan immediately after the Six Day War. A few days after the message “the Temple Mount is in our hands” crackled through his earpiece, Dayan met with Moslem leaders at al-Aksa and promised, to the astonishment of the defeated Arabs, not to interfere in their administration of the site.

Dayan’s motives appear to have been twofold: to demonstrate the Jews’ respect for freedom of religion, and to avoid provoking the immense Moslem world, thereby immortalizing a conflict that many Jews believed would end shortly after Israel’s decisive victory on the battlefield.

Yet Dayan set two conditions. Rabble-rousing sermons against the Jews would be forbidden, he wrote in his autobiography, or “we would of course take appropriate action.”

In addition, Dayan wrote, “the one thing we would introduce was freedom of Jewish access without limitation or payment. This compound, as my hosts well knew, was our Temple Mount. Here stood our Temple during ancient times, and it would be inconceivable for Jews not to be able freely to visit this holy place now that Jerusalem was under our rule.”

Both of these conditions were quickly abandoned by Israeli authorities.

Later that summer, after IDF chaplain Rabbi Shlomo Goren led prayers on the mount during Tisha Be’av, authorities backtracked and reinstated the previous ban on Jewish worship on the mount.

“It was evident that if we did not prevent Jews from praying in what was now a mosque compound, matters would get out of hand and lead to a religious clash,” Dayan wrote.

What ensued was a tenuous modus vivendi that lasted for most of the next three decades. The Wakf was allowed to continue running affairs on top of the Temple Mount in coordination, to one extent or another, with Israeli police, while Jews prayed only at the Western Wall at the mount’s base. Jews were allowed to enter the mount like any other tourists, but “suspicious” individuals – known activists or anyone who looked like an Orthodox Jew – could enter only under Wakf and police guard, and were evicted if they appeared to be moving their lips in prayer. [my emphasis]

Here we have an absolutely perfect example, a paradigm case, of the West’s abject surrender of its vital interests to its enemies. Dayan may not have understood the consequences of his actions, but the truth is that  surrender for altruistic motives is nonetheless surrender, and it doesn’t matter if it happens after a military victory.

Dayan apparently did not understand, although he had been dealing with Arabs all of his life, that his generosity would not be repaid with respect. And apparently he didn’t think it was necessary to take a firm stand against intimidation by threats of violence. He let — invited — the camel’s nose under the tent, and today the tent is occupied by the camel.

Now it may be happening that Jewish Israelis are waking up to the fact that what their soldiers died for in 1967 can be lost forever, even without further wars.

Some secular Jews say “who cares, Jerusalem is full of anti-Zionist haredim, and the religious authorities are corrupt.” This is irrelevant. Even the most secular must understand that Jerusalem is the historical heart of the Jewish state and the Jewish people, and must not be given up in the hope of placating its truly implacable enemies.*


* Note: for what it’s worth, this writer is not Orthodox. And yes, a woman was also arrested recently for praying at the Kotel with a tallit, and I was troubled by that arrest as well.

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One Response to “Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish People”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    The ironic sad and infuriating fact is that Israel’s policy on Temple Mount prayer is self- defeating. Israel promises access of all faiths to the holy places. It does this,so far as I know,with only one exception. The Jews are prevented from praying on the Temple Mount.
    So what do we do there? We provide security for the Muslims who pray there and at the same time regard our very presence there as an imposition, and abomination.