Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Leigh Goes Low

Jeremy Leigh, M.A.,(or PhD already) is Coordinator of the Richard J. Scheuer Israel Seminar at the HUC-JIR/Jerusalem.

His opinion piece, "At UNESCO, Jews Have No Standing, but Historical Revisionism Does", was published in Haaretz this past week. In short, he would want us to be convinced that that UNESCO vote ignoring the intrinsic and essential value of the Jews' and Judaism's and Israel's connections with Jerusalem, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount

is a gift for Israeli belligerents who can say yet again: There is no one to talk to. No partner. It fuels an immoral alliance of interests between Arab and Jewish rejectionists

To his credit, he notes that

The last lie hatched up by hostile revisionists and deniers...[resulted in]...[s]cores of Jews being knifed, shot or mown down by terrorists in cars...the words of this resolution have the potential to kill.

Nevertheless, it seems he cannot clearly and simply distinguish for his readers between those "Israeli belligerents" and those "Jewish rejectionists" and those "[Arab? Muslim? Palestinian?] terrorists".

That's one moral fault.

Another is his dumbing down the differences between Islam and Judaism vis a vis the Temple Mount, describing a supposed Jewish reaction so:

One can already hear the cries of the rabble rousers on the Israeli/Jewish side demanding to see evidence that Mohammed actually ascended to heaven from the rock on the Haram el Sharif, 

Must they all be "rabble rousers"? Maybe some are scholars? Academics? Intellectuals? Persons who could point to the irrationality of this situation not only by Muhammed's Flight which, in the Quran, is not linked to Jerusalem (but to locations in Saudi Arabia), but by the fact that the Jewish Temples are mentioned explicitly in the Quran, as is Solomon.  Or that the Waqf in its 1924 Guidebook and in other editions admits the Temples existence.  Or that the first Arabic name for Jerusalem was Bayt Al-Maqdas, yes, Beit HaMikdash, or...the Place of the Temple.

To be ever bending-over-backwards, he also dumbs down the Jewish connection immediately after that section, writing

'Belief' rather than 'proof' could - should - also have currency in UNESCO terms. But of course, that would have to work for the benefit of Jewish tradition regarding the Temple Mount, as well.

In other words, Islam and Judaism are the same as regards belief, rather than proof, in a tradition as if Jewish history equals Islamic history regarding Jerusalem is how I read that text even as he adds that the UNESCO decision text is

a contention that nullifies Jewish history and culture

He concludes by positing that

the UNESCO vote will remain as a true test of moral backbone, for Jewish liberals as much as for Western states, as well as the entire Muslim world.

But if he is truly looking for a challenge and a test of moral backbone, being employed at a Reform Jewish educational institution, why not ask himself (and his staff and students) that if he can support the demand of gender equality of religious expression at the Western Wall, why hasn't he come out on behalf of Jewish spiritual expression to be permitted at the Temple Mount?  Does he not know that Muslims are demanding prayer rights at the Cordoba Cathedral in Spain while they deny Jewish rights here in Jerusalem?  That isn't fair. That doesn't form the basis of coexistence and compromise that are the requirements for peace.

One doesn't have to be a fanatic or extremist or even a belligerent soul to seek equality.  And if Leigh portrays Jews who seek freedom of religion at the Temple Mount as of such a negative mold, then that is quite a low blow.


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