Monday, October 20, 2008

So, Jews Can Pray On the Temple Mount

Ever since 1967, when the Israel authorities banned/prohibited/disallowed non-Muslim religious activity such as praying, reading Psalms or special Tisha B'Av texts, the High Court of Justice has consistently upheld this outrageous infringement not only on civili liberties and basic human rights but has not taken the initiative to declare that this ban is illegal. Here's a petition on the matter.

Almost immediately after Israel's conquest of East Jerusalem, Warhaftig [then Minister for Religious Affairs] had consulted extensively with Muslim imams and qadis, Jewish rabbis and Christian priests, and, two months later, he set up a council to ensure regular consultations. Ever the nationalist, he insisted that the Temple Mount, once the site of Solomon's temple and now home to the Dome of the Rock, was Jewish property. Yet he banned Jews - including the future chief rabbi Shlomo Goren - from entering the site lest they offend Muslim worshippers.

The law of the land is that prayer is indeed permitted as is free access but that special administrative arrangements needs to be implemented.(**) The Ministry of religions conveniently has not, 41 years dwon the road, instituted those arrangements and therefore, no prayer!

The Basic Law: Jerusalem the Capital copies langauge from the 1967 Law thus:-

The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings towards those places.

A typical Israeli political maneuver of convenience.(*)

That may change:-

Temple Institute Director Released

Temple Institute Director Yehuda Glick [see here] was released on Sunday night after being arrested earlier in the day. Glick was arrested while waiting to visit the Temple Mount.

Police accused Glick of “provocation” for allegedly praying on the Mount on previous occasions and planning to bring a book with him on his visit. In a precedent-setting ruling, a Jerusalem judge [Maurice Ben-Attar] said that Jews are allowed to pray on the Mount, and that an area should be set aside for Jewish prayer as is done in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hevron.

Maybe even Christains will be able to praise the Lord, too.

For background, my monograph. And this summary on legal aspects of Waqf destruction.


For example, here Israel explains the law but only as regardds Islamic holy sites:

As to the protection and preservation of Islamic holy places, it has been already been mentioned that Israeli law grants freedom of worship and ensures the safekeeping of and access to holy places to members of all faiths. Sections 170-173 of the Penal Law, 5737-1977, provide as follows:
“A person who destroys, damages or desecrates a place of worship or any object which is held sacred by a group of persons with the intention of thereby reviling their religion or with the knowledge that they are likely to consider such destruction, damage or desecration as an insult to their religion is liable to imprisonment for three years.”
“A person who willfully and without proving lawful justification or excuse disturbs any meeting of persons lawfully assembled for religious worship or willfully assaults a person officiating at any such meeting or any of the persons there assembled is liable to imprisonment for one year.”
The Protection of Holy Places Law, 5727-1967, expands on the guarantees contained in the Penal Law by mandating that holy places of all religions be protected from any "desecration or other violations", and prohibiting any act that might impair the free access of members of all religions to their holy places or "anything likely to violate the sensitivities of the members of the different religions with regard to those places."
Desecration or other violations of holy places are punishable by seven years' imprisonment; impairment of free access and violation of religious sensitivities, as outlined above, are punishable by five years' imprisonment.
Violation of this law, unlike the parallel provisions in the Penal Law, 1977 does not require criminal intent or knowledge, but, rather, it is sufficient simply if the offender had constructive knowledge that such a violation was likely to be caused as a result of the conduct.


Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, meeting on 7 June with the spiritual leaders of all communities, declared:

"Since our forces have been in control in the entire city and surroundings, quiet has been restored. You may rest assured that no harm of any kind will be allowed to befall the religious Holy Places. I have asked the Minister of Religious Affairs to contact the religious leaders in the Old City in order to ensure orderly contact between them and our forces and enable them to pursue their religious activities unhindered. At my request the Minister of Religious Affairs has issued the following instructions:

(a) The arrangements at the Western Wall shall be determined by the Chief Rabbis of Israel.

(b) The arrangements in places sacred to the Moslems shall be determined by a Council of Moslem religious dignitaries.

(c) The arrangements in places sacred to the Christians shall be determined by a Council of Christian religious dignitaries."

139. Meeting with them again on 27 June) the Prime Minister declared:

"It is my pleasure to inform you that the Holy Places in Jerusalem are now open to all who wish to worship at them - members of all faiths, without discrimination. The Government of Israel has made it a cardinal principle of its policy to preserve the Holy Places, to ensure their religious and universal character, and to guarantee free access. Through regular consultation with you, Heads of the communities, and with those designated by you, at the appropriate levels, for this purpose, we will continue to maintain this policy and to see that it is most faithfully carried out. In these consultations, I hope that you will feel free to put forward your proposals, since the aims I have mentioned are, I am certain, aims that we share in common. Every such proposal will be given full and sympathetic consideration. It is our intention to entrust the internal administration and arrangements of the Holy Places to the religious leaders of the communities to which they respectively belong: the task of carrying out all necessary procedures is in the hands of the Minister of Religious Affairs."

140. The same day, the Knesset passed the "Protection of Holy Places Law" 5727-1967, as follows:

"1. The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places.

"2. Whoever desecrates or otherwise violates a Holy Place shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of seven years.

"3. This law shall add to and not derogate from any other law.

"4. The Minister of Religious Affairs is charged with the implementation of this law and he may after consultation with or upon the proposal of representatives of the religions concerned and with the consent of the Minister of Justice make regulations as to any matter relating to such implementation.

5. This law shall come into force on the date of its adoption by the Knesset."


To recall:-


by the late Chief Rabbi, Rav Shlomo Goren
(Yibane HaMikdash, issue 110, originally in Darchei Torah)

With the first military deployment in the liberated and united Jerusalem, I decided that the time has come to establish facts on the ground, and I started to organize Jewish prayer services on the Temple Mount, in areas permissible for those defiled by contact with the dead to enter.

In these great days, I could not free myself from the thought that, from a historical perspective, the designation of the Western Wall Plaza for Jewish prayer is only the result of Jews being banned from the Temple Mount by the Crusaders and by Moslems together. Hence, an intolerable situation has been created, that even after the liberation of the Temple Mount, the Moslems remained up on the Temple Mount, and we stayed down below, them inside and us outside.

Prayer by the Western Wall is a sign of destruction and exile, and not freedom and redemption, since Jewish prayer by the Western Wall started only in the 16th century. Before that, Jews had prayed on the Temple Mount for centuries, and when they were expelled, they prayed on the Mountain of Olives, across from the Eastern Gate. Jews have been praying by the Western Wall for only about three hundred years.

In the framework of the function of the Military Rabbinate, we held organized study and prayer on the Temple Mount -- Shacharit (morning service), Mincha (afternoon service), and Ma'ariv (evening service), and Torah reading on Shabbat, Monday, and Thursday on the Temple Mount Plaza itself, inside the Mugrabi Gate, near our study center. Once, the Waqaf people tried to close the Shevatim Gate, on the northeastern end of the Temple Mount, from a gathering of officers of the Military Rabbinate that was held on the Temple Mount. We broke through the gate and entered. That taught them the Temple Mount is ours officially and practically.

On the 9th of Av, 5727 (1967 CE), I held a Mincha service for a small group on the Temple Mount Plaza across from the steps going up south of the Dome of the Rock, a place that is permissible to enter according to all Halachic authorities. This Mincha service on the 9th of Av on the Temple Mount raised many reactions in the media in Israel and abroad. Jewish writers hostile to religion in the State started incitement against our efforts to renew Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.

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