Monday, September 21, 2015

The Shlemiel's Guide to the Temple Mount

The official UN press site has published this regarding the Temple Mount events this past week:-

...the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, said..."As the Middle East faces a vicious tide of terror and extremism, such serious provocations have the potential to ignite violence well beyond the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. I urge all political, community and religious leaders to ensure that visitors and worshippers demonstrate restraint and respect for the sanctity of the area. All sides have a responsibility to refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric."  Mr Mladenov said the historic status quo of the area must be preserved in line with agreements between Israel and Jordan. 

Since we Jews are prohibited to worship at the Temple Mount, there is, of course, no symmetry.  And how are we provocative?  The UN's Security Council statement is worse:

17 September 2015
SC/12052-PAL/2196Security Council Press Statement on Situation in Jerusalem

The members of the Security Council expressed their grave concern regarding escalating tensions in Jerusalem, especially surrounding the Haram al-Sharif compound, including recent clashes in and around the site.

The members of the Security Council called for the exercise of restraint, refraining from provocative actions and rhetoric and upholding unchanged the historic status quo at the Haram al-Sharif — in word and in practice.  The members of the Security Council called for full respect for international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law, as may be applicable in Jerusalem.

The members of the Security Council urged all sides to work cooperatively together to lower tensions and discourage violence at holy sites in Jerusalem.

The members of the Security Council appealed for the restoration of calm and called for full respect for the sanctity of the Haram al-Sharif, noting the importance of the special role of Jordan, as confirmed in the 1994 peace treaty between Jordan and Israel, and encouraged increased coordination between Israel and Jordan’s Awqaf department.  The members of the Security Council underscored that Muslim worshippers at the Haram al-Sharif must be allowed to worship in peace, free from violence, threats and provocations. The members of the Security Council further underscored that visitors and worshippers must demonstrate restraint and respect for the sanctity of the area and for maintaining the historic status quo at the holy sites.  The members of the Security Council urged that the status quo of the Haram al-Sharif should be maintained and visitors should be without fear of violence or intimidation.

The members of the Security Council called for the immediate cessation of violence and for all appropriate steps to be taken to ensure that violence ceases, that provocative actions are avoided and that the situation returns to normality in a way which promotes the prospects for Middle East peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. 

No "Temple Mount".

IMRA sent me this:

Jordan's diplomacy has recently scored a success as the UN Security Council, under intense Jordanian lobbying, released a statement recognising the Al-Haram al-Sharif" by its name, instead of Israel's preferred reference to it as "the Temple Mount".

A compromise on Mount Moriah?  No.  No sharing or freedom of access.  No religious tolerance and understanding.  This despite the peace treaty signed between Israel and Jordan and its Article 9:

Each party will provide freedom of access to places of religious and historical significance...The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.

Here is PM Netanyahu on Sunday:

I would like to say something about the Temple Mount. Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo. We are not altering the status quo. Elements that incite with baseless, wild provocations – to the effect that Israel is trying to prevent Muslim prayer on the Temple Mount or wants to destroy the mosques, or other wild things that are being said – it is they who are inciting. This incitement comes from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Movement in Israel, Hamas, and – to our chagrin – with the active participation of the Palestinian Authority...not only the throwing of firebombs, but also something new - bringing explosives and pipe bombs onto the Temple Mount. Explosives in the Al-Aqsa Mosque are explosives.  Explosives in Al-Aqsa Mosque – that is changing the status quo. Israel will maintain the status quo. It will act responsibly, but with determination, to ensure that the existing arrangements are maintained. We have no plans to change them, but we also have no intention of allowing anyone to cause the deterioration of the arrangements on the Temple Mount by resorting to explosive and widespread violence.

Shlomi Eldar interviewed one of the Wicked Witches of the Waqf (and here's a previous piece):

...On the Muslim side are two organizations acting together, one for men, one for women, who call themselves the Mourabitoun and Mourabitat, respectively. Their names are taken from a phrase in the Quran that obliges every Muslim to be a “mourabit” (defender) of Islam’s holy places and to protect them against heathens who threaten to desecrate them...Israeli security services claim that Hamas also funnels money to the organizations. In November 2013, Shin Bet shut down the Jerusalem offices of Amara al-Aqsa, claiming that the organization served as a conduit for funding activities at Al-Aqsa, including those of the Mourabitoun.  On Sept. 9, acting on a request by Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan and the recommendation of Shin Bet, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon designated Mourabitoun and Mourabitat illegal organizations...

...“There is a Hadith [religious teaching] in the Quran that says that anyone praying out of true belief is a mourabit, whether they pray at home, at work or at a mosque,” she explained. “Everyone is obliged to guard against desecration. In the holy Quran, it says specifically, ‘In the name of Allah the merciful and compassionate, be ready and willing to defend the places holy to Islam.’ This is a commandment that must be obeyed.”

Mourabita said that her fellow mourabitat stay in the classrooms at Al-Aqsa Mosque and the adjacent houses of prayer, holding lessons in the Quran and Hadith. Outside, the men of the Mourabitoun fan out across the compound, operating in shifts. When Jews are spotted arriving on the mount, the men signal a lookout standing next to the women’s classroom to call the women to action. The mourabitat, dressed in black, their faces veiled, repeatedly call out in unison, “Allahu Akbar” (God is great), to scare off the Jewish pilgrims in a type of psychological warfare (a video clip).

...Al-Monitor:  How is your job defined? It’s not just about prayer, is it?
Mourabita:  Those who come here as innocents [tourists] and visitors, we greet with words of welcome to Palestine and Jerusalem, but to the occupiers we say, “Get off our land.” They should go away from our Al-Aqsa. We fight mainly against the settlers...You know, even the rabbis used to say that religious Jews are forbidden from going to Al-Aqsa Mosque. Now they come on a daily basis...

...What are the mourabitat doing? Are they cutting down [olive] trees? Are they destroying houses? Are they building settlements or preventing others from building their homes? The mourabitat sit in Al-Aqsa Mosque so that the whole world will see and hear. They study the Quran, study Hadith, and when a settler arrives, they call out loud together, “Allahu Akhbar, Allahu Akhbar.” You tell me, as a Jew, if a Muslim walked into a synagogue in which you were praying, would you be accepting of someone bothering you while you are at prayer? Of course not. That is what guides us in protecting the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque.
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With all this, I think a new handbook, something like "The Shlemiel's Guide to the Temple Mount" should be written.

Let's develop an outline or topics that could be discussed.  For example, a few themes:

a. the police prohibit not only prayer but other acts that can be construed as religious in nature like ripping one's shirt which is a sign of mourning.  if a Muslim rips a Jew's shirt, is the Jew still guilty of having a ripped shirt?

b. why is there no status quo for Muslims? they build new mosques and they create new organizations that did not previously exist.

c.  if a Jew visiting the site is not a "settler", but he is a left-wing Tel Avivian, is he nevertheless to be considered 'storming' the Haram A-Sharif?  or 'breaking in'.

d.  if a Jew's feet are thought of as defiling the Al-Aqsa compound, does that count even if he is wearing shoes?  should a Muslim's feet then be considered contaminating a Jewish holy site?

e.  if the Waqf guidebook to Al-Aqsa in 1924, when the Mufti was in charge, notes that the site was previously where Solomon's Temple stood, when today's Waqf authorities claim it wasn't located there, who is right?

f.  why are so many activities if done by Jews prohibited but playing soccer by Arabs at a holy site is tolerated?

g.  how is Jordan and its Waqf providing freedom of access to places of religious and historical significance to Jews and how are they acting together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace?

h.  why are church leaders getting involved?


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