Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Is Kerry Snarking Israel?

I hope Sec'y John Kerry isn't snarking Israel in his words:

I just want to make three general points.
First, as much as we oppose the actions of terrorists, we do not agree with governments that use those crimes as a pretext for prohibiting religious activities that are in fact nonviolent and legitimate. Those who misuse the terms “terrorist” and “extremist” are not fooling anybody, and trying to dictate an artificial conformity of religious expression is not a prescription for harmony. It is a prescription for frustration, anger, and rebellion. And we have learned time and again that if citizens are denied the rights to practice and express their beliefs peacefully, they are far more likely to explore other and more often than not dangerous alternatives.

From the Report on Religious Freedom

The government limited Jewish religious observance at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, though some Jewish groups sought to either legally overturn this policy or modify it to permit Jewish prayer, actions that were at times followed by a violent response from Muslim worshippers....

...The government continued to control access to the site referred to as Haram al-Sharif by Muslims (containing the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque) and the Temple Mount by Jews (who recognize it as the foundation of the first and second Jewish temples). The location has been under Israeli control since 1967 when Israel captured the eastern sector of the city (the Israeli government formally annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, and Israel applies its laws in East Jerusalem). The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a Jordanian-funded and administered Islamic trust and charitable organization, continued to administer the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. The government continued to prevent non-Muslim worship and prayer at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, although it ensured limited access to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif to everyone regardless of religious belief. This policy has repeatedly been upheld by the Supreme Court and was enforced by the police, who cite security concerns. The government instead directed Jewish worshippers to the Western Wall, the place of worship nearest the holiest site in Judaism. The Waqf restricted non-Muslims from entering the Dome of the Rock shrine and al-Aqsa Mosque and prohibited non-Muslim religious symbols from being worn on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif (a practice enforced by the Israeli National Police).

The Israeli National Police (INP) was responsible for security at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, with police stationed both inside the site and outside each entrance. The INP conducted routine patrols on the outdoor plaza, regulated traffic in and out of the site, screened non-Muslims for religious paraphernalia, and generally prohibited them from praying publicly on the site. Israeli police had exclusive control of the Mughrabi Gate entrance – the only entrance through which non-Muslims could enter the site – and in general allowed visitors through the gate during set visiting hours, although the INP sometimes restricted this access, citing security concerns.

Citing security concerns, the Israeli government restricted access to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount by Muslims from Jerusalem and the West Bank, frequently barring entry of male, and sometimes female, residents under the age of 50. The Israeli government in November stated the INP had imposed age restrictions 76 times until that point in the year, compared with 12 times in 2013 and three times in 2012. According to media reports, the Israeli government provided Muslims from Gaza very occasional access to the site, including permitting entry to 1,500 Muslim Gazans over 60 during Eid al-Adha on October 5, 6, and 7, and 200 Gazans on Fridays in December – primarily Muslims over 60. Israeli security authorities frequently restricted Muslim residents of Jerusalem from entering the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount site for Friday prayer, and imposed age restrictions on male prayer on several days during Ramadan, including every Friday and on the Night of Destiny (Laylat al Qadr). On several days in August, Israeli police prohibited all Muslim women regardless of age from visiting the site during non-Muslim visiting hours. Israeli authorities cited altercations between specific groups of female worshippers and Jewish tourists attempting to break the injunction against non-Muslim prayer on site as a reason for these temporary blanket bans. Authorities infrequently closed the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif entirely, often after skirmishes at the site between Palestinians and Israeli police. Following the October 29 shooting of an Israeli-American activist and a subsequent shootout in the Abu Tor neighborhood of East Jerusalem during which police killed the attacker during an arrest attempt, the INP on October 30, denied entry to the Temple Mount /Haram al-Sharif for all Muslims for a full day. Waqf officials described the closure as unprecedented since 1967, although some reports indicate the site was also completely closed to Muslims in 2000. On November 14, the government lifted all age restrictions on Muslims seeking to enter the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.

A wide range of Muslim officials, including representatives of the Waqf, objected to Israeli-imposed access restrictions for Muslim worshippers to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, and opposed calls from some Israeli groups to divide visiting hours between Muslims and non-Muslims and to allow non-Muslim prayer there. Waqf officials complained that Israeli police violated status quo agreements regarding control of access to the site, as the INP did not fully coordinate with the Waqf its decisions to allow non-Muslim visitors onto the site. Waqf employees were stationed inside each gate and on the plaza. They could object to the presence of particular persons, such as individuals dressed immodestly or causing disturbances, but they lacked the authority to remove persons from the site.Israeli authorities in some instances barred specific individuals from the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif site, most frequently Jerusalem Islamic Waqf employees, and also barred Jewish activists who had repeatedly violated rules against non-Muslim prayer on the site, including members of Knesset (MKs). Israeli authorities banned all non-Muslim visitors to the site for the last two weeks of Ramadan, citing security concerns. Israeli reinforcement of the ramp leading to the Mughrabi Gate of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, as well as excavations in the immediate vicinity, continued during the year despite calls from the Islamic Waqf to coordinate any excavation or construction and concerns that the excavations could destabilize the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. Israeli authorities briefly constructed a second ramp on the site in August, before removing it a few weeks later after criticism from the Waqf and Jordanian officials.

Many Jewish leaders continued to promote the view that Jewish law prohibited Jews from entering the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, a view strongly supported by the ultra-Orthodox or Haredi community. Increasing numbers of the “national religious” community, however, supported ascending to the site. Some prominent members of the ruling coalition in the Knesset called for reversing the policy of banning non-Muslim prayer at the site, and the Knesset’s Interior Committee held hearings to discuss the issue and press the INP to allow Jewish visitors to pray there. These discussions intensified following the October 29 attack on a Jewish activist (and U.S. citizen) well known for advocating Jewish prayer at the site. Some Israeli officials, including cabinet members, visited the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif and issued statements asserting Israeli control over it. For example, on September 24, Minister of Housing and Construction Uri Ariel visited the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif and stated, “the sovereignty over the Temple Mount is in our hands and we must strengthen it.” Some coalition members of the Knesset (MKs) and Israeli NGOs, such as the Temple Institute and Temple Mount Faithful, called on the Israeli government to implement a time-sharing plan at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif that would set aside certain hours for Jewish worship, similar to one used at the Ibrahimi Mosque/Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The Ministry of Tourism also reportedly was considering a plan to open another gate to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif to non-Muslims – a move condemned by Muslim leaders as a change from the status quo at the site. Despite an Israeli High Court ruling stating that “Jews, even though their right to the Temple Mount exists and stands historically, are not permitted to currently actualize their right to perform public prayer on the Temple Mount,” the government considered international agreements with Jordan restricting Jewish prayer at the site to remain authoritative. The prime minister reiterated repeatedly his support for maintaining the status quo arrangement at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif – as did Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino – and following the October attack on a Jewish activist, specifically called on Knesset members and Israeli officials to avoid inflaming tensions through provocative actions such as visits to the site. MK Moshe Feiglin, however, visited the site several times following the attack, and the attorney general, on November 25, upheld the right of MKs to visit the site according to the visitation rules for members of the non-Muslim public.

Despite Israeli government prohibitions against non-Muslim worship at the site, some Jewish groups escorted by Israeli police performed religious acts such as prayers and prostration. The police then acted to prevent Jewish persons from praying and arrested those who did. Waqf officials criticized the visits. In some instances the visits sparked violence between Palestinians at the site who responded to the visits of Jews by directing violence – usually rocks and firecrackers – at the visitors and at the Israeli police, sometimes leading to clashes with the police. Jewish visits to the site increased compared to 2013, particularly during Jewish holidays in September and October. During this period, Israeli police at times imposed restrictions on Muslim and non-Muslim access to the site, for example on September 24, limiting access to Muslims under age 50. In several instances Israeli police prevented non-Muslim access to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in anticipation of clashes. Israeli police also temporarily denied Muslims access to the site on at least one day during September to accommodate Jewish visits. Clashes sometimes occurred in areas of the Old City and East Jerusalem where Muslim worshippers who had been denied entry to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif had gathered to pray, such as on the last Friday of Ramadan when worshippers from Jerusalem’s Wadi Joz neighborhood, blocked from the Old City by Israeli police, prayed in the street, and then clashed with police after the conclusion of prayers. Following the U.S. Secretary of State’s November engagement with Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli leaders in Amman, all sides took significant steps to reduce tensions, and the government facilitated freer access for Muslims to the site...


Although many Orthodox rabbis continued to discourage Jewish visits to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount site, other prominent rabbis reiterated their view that entering the site was permissible, and Jewish proponents of accessing and performing religious rituals at the site were increasingly vocal. For example, groups such as the Temple Mount Faithful and the Temple Institute regularly called for increased Jewish access and prayer at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, as well as the construction of a Third Jewish Temple on the site. The Temple Institute in August began a crowdfunding campaign to finance architectural plans for the Third Temple, and a promotional video on its website depicted the Third Temple built atop the al-Aqsa Mosque site. The northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, a political and religious group opposed to participation in local or national governance, frequently called on members to “defend” al-Aqsa mosque and spoke of the religious site as “under attack.” Multiple reports indicated tens of members of the movement may have received funding to remain present at the site to counter violations of the status quo. 



NormanF said...


Israel is more Philistine about basic human rights than the Arabs.

It says something - not in a complimentary way - when Jews have to be arrested for doing an innocent thing so Jew-hating Arabs don't get upset.

No, wait - they are upset anyway and the ban on Jewish prayer has proven counterproductive - in fact the anti-Semitic apartheid regime on the Temple Mount the Israeli government is struggling to maintain in the face of Arab terror, is being eroded by Arab incitement, hate and lies.

In the end, we may look back on all this as heralding a change for the better in the captivity of Jerusalem.

TFH said...

I guess that what he means to say but can not because of political correctness is that many Jews are abusing the good will they got afther the nazi holocaust to abuse the arabs who have lived on the so called biblical jewish grounds.

Viator said...

Jews are not the only race that has faced attempts of extincion. Bu, hu, poor you. Get over it! Rather than wallowing in your own self pity you might try to help those who are really facing genocide today! There are more than one f.y.i.