Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Temple Mount Makes CBS News (and more)

Israel police Tuesday permitted a limited number of Jewish worshippers to ascend Jerusalem's Temple Mount, the site of the two ancient Jewish temples that according to Jewish tradition were both destroyed on this day, in 586 B.C. and 70 A.D. It's Judaism's holiest shrine, but it's also holy to Muslims, and therefore, reports Jablinowitz, it's considered the powder keg of the Middle East. A group called the Temple Mount faithful prayed nearby, complaining that not more Jews were permitted to enter the Mount.



And Uri Orbach, in his satirical way, deals with the fundamentals of the issue. Excerpts:-

Unfortunately the Temple was destroyed in July-August. Two thousand years later, secular Israel is too busy during these two months to remember anything about what happened so long ago. In the midst of the summer break and on the beach, the Ninth of Av creeps up with stubble on its face and that Temple where cows were slaughtered, as if there were no quinoa in the world.

The Ninth of Av is not a popular day in Israel. Israeli society likes to celebrate, including Israel's festivals, but fast days are no small headache. Israelis like to think that the Ninth of Av is only related to the past, to some distant temple, which they do not particularly miss and certainly do not wish to see reappear all of a sudden.

And then, on a seemingly normal summer's eve, TV sets start airing black-and-white films with no commercials in between. Suddenly there are pictures of Jerusalem and religious people everywhere, wearing sneakers and hair on their faces as they sit on the ground at the Western Wall.

"What's going on? Who died? Oh yes, the Temple, yes the Temple, and I for a brief moment thought something happened."

What has remained of this Jewish tradition within the pace of Israeli life? Just leftovers. The Temple is perceived as the symbol of religious rule in which no one is interested in nowadays. Jerusalem on the whole is increasingly being distanced from Tel Aviv, which lives around the clock. Add to this the fact that schools undergo renovations during July-August and you'll understand why children do not even encounter the Ninth of Av within the mandatory education curriculum.

Had Israel's education focused on healthy nationalism, the understanding "of remembering the secret of redemption" would have perhaps appealed to more people. With the destruction of the Temple, hundreds of thousands of our people perished. True, it was long ago, but beyond national destruction, a massacre of our people also took place.

Since then we have experienced sacrifices and a Holocaust, massacres and the Inquisition. However, the destruction of the Temple symbolized the beginning and the reason for the painful exile that culminated in the Holocaust of European Jewry. The Holocaust was part of the deportation process of an entire people.

So despite the Ninth of Av occurring in the summer, there is national, religious and Zionist significance in remembering what happened to us as a people just 2,000 years ago. This is not about slogans and symbols of memory alone, but about education. Israeli society finds it difficult to remember events that occurred only last summer and two summers ago. To ask it to remember a sultry event of destruction and holocaust, plus a fast, plus lamentations – that's going too far.

The prevalent feeling is that the Ninth of Av is a matter for religious Jews. It's a good thing we have them so that they can mourn for us too. Even visiting the Temple Mount, which is our national right, not a religious one, is consistently portrayed as a terrible headache, so you come to us now with your Temple and all its geopolitical ramifications, and with the Arabs who are likely to become terribly angry?


Majadele cedes role in Mughrabi Gate project to cabinet

The cabinet yesterday set up a ministerial committee to oversee the Temple Mount's Mughrabi Gate project, thereby effectively depriving Culture Minister Ghaleb Majadele, who previously had ministerial responsibility for the work, of this job.

The decision follows Majadele's tour of the area a few days ago during which he reportedly ordered archaeological excavations at the site to stop.

However, both Majadele and the Israel Antiquities Authority, which is carrying out the dig, deny that he gave such an order. The authority said that the work, which is a necessary step to replacing a collapsed ramp leading to the Mughrabi Gate from the Western Wall plaza, was halted due to planning problems and not the minister's orders.

The ministerial committee will be headed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Majadele, who said he welcomed the decision, will be one of its other members, along with Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and the present and former Jerusalem affairs ministers, Rafi Eitan and Jacob Edery.

The ministerial committee is expected to approve a plan prepared by an interministerial committee, under which the collapsed ramp will be replaced by a bridge, and the space under the bridge will be used to expand the women's prayer area at the Western Wall. The plan will apparently be submitted to the Jerusalem planning commission for approval next Tuesday.

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