Saturday, September 21, 2013

Temple Mount in the Mainstream Media

It's been a Temple Mount week in the mainstream press.

On September 13, in The Guardian, Giles Fraser published comment.  Sort of in "honor" of Yom Kippur.

Here's his summary of the situation:

The Temple, of course, was destroyed by the Romans in AD70. From then on, Judaism became a religion of books and teachers, rather than one of temples, sacrifices and priests. And though religious Jews pray daily for the restoration of the Temple, they are forbidden onto the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – politically because, since the late 7th century, it has been the site of the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock; theologically because, according to Jewish law, it would be wrong for any Jew to walk over the site of the Holy of Holies without the proper purity preparation and potentially thinking impure thoughts. And no one now knows where its exact location was. So Jewish access to Temple Mount has been strictly forbidden (by religious, not secular, law) for centuries ...

Without being too picayune, that's fair.

What isn't is this:
The orthodox position has long been that the Temple can only be rebuilt and sacrifices resumed when the Jewish messiah returns. There have been a few dissenting voices to this consensus – most notably, Maimonides – but since the foundation of the state of Israel, the idea of Jews returning to Temple Mount prior to the arrival of the messiah has been the obsession of a tiny minority. 

Actually, Maimonides would seem to hold to that position ("In the future, the Messianic king will arise and renew the Davidic dynasty, restoring it to its initial sovereignty. He will build the Temple and gather the dispersed of Israel.") and there are others who consider the rebuilding of the Temple, or the preparation for it, as a precondition, like the Rabbis mentioned below.
Consider this:
The rebuilding of the Temple was a central tenet of religious Zionism from its very beginning. Over 150 years ago Rabbi Tzvi Kalisher, the forefather of religious Zionism, sparked a debate with two of the most important halachic opinions of his time, Rabbi Akiva Eiger and Rabbi Moshe Sofer [the Chatam Sofer], when he suggested purchasing the Temple Mount and renewing animal sacrifices.  Eiger and Sofer did not rule out the idea of renewing animal sacrifices. They merely pointed to a number of technicalities, including the difficulty of purchasing the Temple Mount from Ottoman authorities.

In 1843 R. Kalischer first published his views in two volumes called "Emunah Yesharim” (An Honest Faith) and in 1862 published “Drishat Zion” (The Search for Zion). Using proof texts from the Bible and Talmud R. Kalischer argued that the salvation of the Jews as foretold by the prophets could take place through natural means, by self-help as opposed to waiting for the messiah. Therefore the settlement of Palestine should start immediately and even the revival of sacrifices was permissible in the Holy land. Only when many pious Jews lived in the land would G-D heed their prayers and speed the days of the redemption.

What's the situation today?
...Back in March, the housing and construction minister Uri Ariel, who advocates the rebuilding of the Temple, visited the site as a "tourist". In April, Knesset member Miri Regev emphasised: "I do not understand why a Jew is not allowed to pray in the most sacred place for him – the Temple Mount." Religious services Minister, Naftali Bennett, has announced he will work for legislation guaranteeing Jewish access...

Fraser thinks:

It would be hard to overstate how dangerous an idea this is... a billion Muslims worldwide would go ballistic...

Now, I could be cheeky and ask Fraser: and they are not going ballistic already?  Since 1948, at least?  Or, as Benny Morris has finally concluded, that the Arab opposition was always couched in jihadist terms?

But why cannot Fraser find fault with the Muslims?  A bit of coexistence and sharing, which works well in Hebron, could be installed.  Can't he,  priest-in-charge at St Mary's Newington in south London and the former canon chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral, consider that, as a Christian, at least?  Has he no heart?  After all, Jesus had a relationship with the Temple:-

Luke 2 - 41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

A Jewish relationship.

And today, a week later, we have in the New York Times:

The new Temple Mount reality is that more mainstream Jews are lining up to enter, as a widening group of Israeli politicians and rabbis challenge the longstanding rules constraining Jewish access and conduct. Brides go on their wedding days, synagogue and religious-school groups make regular outings, and many surreptitiously skirt the ban on non-Muslim prayer, like a Russian immigrant who daily recites the morning liturgy in his mind, as he did decades ago in the Soviet Union.

The Muslim reaction?

“We reject these religious visits,” Sheik Ekrima Sa’eed Sabri, who oversees Muslim affairs in Jerusalem, said in an interview. “Our duty is to warn,” he added. “If they want to make peace in this region, they should stay away from Al Aksa.”


“Before, it was some settlers from here, some extremists from there; now we start to hear it from the real officials,” said Adnan Husseini, the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem. “When they get inside with this big number, it’s sure that they will make some kind of religious activities and there will be more friction between them and the people inside the mosque.”

Unfortunately, Jodi Rudoren repeats the falsehood that
In 2000, a visit by Ariel Sharon, then Israel’s opposition leader, accompanied by 1,000 police officers, prompted a violent outbreak and, many argue, set off the second intifada.

The story carries this photograph but the caption doesn't mention what he's holding:

She notes

At three recent Parliament hearings, religious lawmakers and cabinet ministers questioned the status quo, in which non-Muslims can enter the site only for a few hours five days a week, and those identified by the police as Jews are separated, escorted by police officers and admonished not to dance, sing, bow down or even move their lips in prayer...activists have stepped up their campaign for access and prayer at the Temple Mount, part of a broader push to cement Jewish control of all of Jerusalem... a senior Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the government supports “in principle” Jews’ rights to pray there, adding, “we’ve got to do it in a measured way, a sensitive way.”

And she finds the religious scholar who has extreme concessionist views, too, echoing the priest above:
...we’re talking about a movement that wants to change the status quo from its roots,” said Yedidia Z. Stern, a vice president of the Israel Democracy Institute, an Orthodox Jew with liberal leanings who has watched the change with concern. “You’re dealing with the ultimate TNT in our national existence here.”

But, for balance, she quotes Max Freidzon, a Russian immigrant:-

“The situation is the same like it was in the Soviet Union,” said Mr. Freidzon, 46, citing the police escorts, the identification checks, and the ban on religious texts and on a minyan, the 10-person quorum required for public communal prayer. “Step by step, the situation will change. It’s necessary to pray here, and to make here minyan, and to build here temple.”

I understand the Temple Institute had been suggesting to Ms. Ruderon this story for close to 18 months, since she first arrived in Israel.  I first sent her material last September.

Finally, her story is published.

And it, too, contributes to our progress.


I sent this is:

In her report, Jodi Rudoren intimates that activity seeking to permit Jews greater access to and full religious freedom within the Temple Mount is in violation of a "status quo" ("Jews Challenge Rules to Claim Heart of Jerusalem", Sept. 21) and is somehow deleterious despite the 1967 Law for the Protection of Holy Places which guarantees those rights.
In contradistinction, her sympathetic treatment of a parallel issue, that of the Jewish feminists ("Standoff at Western Wall Over Praying by Women", May 10), where a status quo too is being altered, reads much differently. 


Yisrael Medad

Secretary, The Public Council for the Temple Mount

POB 31603

Jerusalem, 91136



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