Wednesday, July 24, 2013

MK Feiglin Takes Up the Fight for Rights on the Temple Mount

Camie Davis

Did you hear about the Imam on the Temple Mount, Ismat Al-Hammouri, who recently called for the destruction of America?  Yawn.  No big deal.  Just another day in the life of the religion of peace.  Or maybe you heard about Jerusalem’s most senior Muslim cleric, Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Hussein, who instigated chairs being thrown at Jews on the Temple Mount?  At least that incident got the attention of the U.S. State Department.  They quickly jumped into action and told Israel to “calm down” after Israel detained and questioned the Mufti.  After all, when the Arabs’ modus operandi is throwing firebombs and rocks at Jews, what’s a few chairs?

Speaking of firebombs, did you hear about the Arabs who threw firebombs at the Israeli police on the Temple Mount?  No, that probably didn’t make the evening news either.  The good news is that at least the Arab women who congregate on the Temple Mount have decided to show a bit of decorum.  Instead of throwing chairs or firebombs, they have recently started throwing insults at the Jews on the Temple Mount.  I know, I know, stunning revelations for those who believe in the Obama induced fairytale known as the “Peaceful Religion of Islam.”

But for realist like you and me, the violence perpetrated by Arabs against Jews on the Temple Mount is not a big surprise.  Luckily, the Israeli government has faced the Arab instigated violence on the Temple Mount head on . . . by preventing Jews, especially religious-looking Jews, from ascending the Temple Mount.  Appeasement and illogic have always gone hand-in-hand.

To the growing frustration of many Israeli Jews, the Israeli government continues to deal with Arabs who hate and want to hurt Jews by appeasing them.  Part of the appeasement involves giving the Arabs just what they want – very little Jewish presence on the Temple Mount.  After all, no Jews on the Temple Mount corroborates well with the Arab narrative that there is no Jewish history connected to the Mount.

Thankfully, not everyone in the Israeli government is riding the appeasement train.  There’s a newly elected Knesset Member on the scene, Moshe Feiglin.  He’s very conservative.  Instead of speaking like a politician, he speaks forthrightly and with common sense.  He does not accept, nor defend the status quo.  And he is anti-establishment.  In other words, he is the antithesis to Israel’s current appeasing government. 

Because of the recent escalation of Arab instigated violence on the Temple Mount and continued discrimination against Jews ascending the Mount, there have been several heated discussions in the Knesset regarding those issues. According to the Jerusalem Post, MK Ibrahim Sarsour (United Arab List-Ta’al) asked why Jews cannot pray somewhere other than at al-Aksa Mosque and stated, “Jews in Israel need to understand that one day Jerusalem will return to Palestinians and Muslims. The solution is to maintain the status quo.”

MK Feiglin responded to the propaganda by saying, “The Wakf’s problem isn’t prayer, but the sovereign symbolism of prayer.  As far as they are concerned, [Jewish prayer] eats away at the total Muslim rule over the Temple Mount.”

Feiglin has quickly become an outspoken proponent for not only Jews retaining their right to ascend and pray on the Temple Mount, but regaining Jewish sovereignty over the Mount.  Feiglin recently wrote on his Facebook page, “As a Knesset Member, I am obligated to actualize Israel's sovereignty on the Temple Mount.”  

Thankfully, Feiglin understands on a spiritual level, which seems to be lacking in this day and age, and on a practical level, the importance of the Temple Mount as he echoed the words of Israeli poet Uri Tzvi Greenberg, "He who rules the Mount rules the Land." Don’t think for one minute that the Arabs don’t know that.  Arabs are resorting to acts of violence to keeps Jews from ascending and claiming sovereignty over the Mount.  And the current Israeli government, barring Feiglin and a few other like-minded MK’s, has played right into the hands of the Arabs.  The Arabs literally throw a fit or worse, harm Jews, and the Jews get punished.

Part of this punishment includes Prime Minister Netanyahu banning Feiglin from going on the Temple Mount.  For ten years, Feiglin has ascended the Mount on a regular monthly basis.  After he was recently elected to the Knesset, Feiglin went for his regular ascent.  He was stopped.  On orders from Netanyahu, the police told him he could no longer ascend.  Although perhaps the most prominent Jewish person to have his religious rights violated on the Mount, Feiglin is not the first.  Sadly, he is part of a long list of Jews whose own government has turned their backs on them. 

Three years ago, Rabbi Chaim Richman, of The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, spoke on his radio show about the religious discrimination against all non-Muslims on the Temple Mount.  He asked his listeners to participate in signing a petition against the discrimination to send to Netanyahu.  Rabbi Richman efforts got the attention of many people, including an officer from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv who indicated that he was very interested in the work of the institute.  After Rabbi Richman was visited by the embassy official, he was also visited at night at his house by Israel's National Security Agency, known as the ISA or Shin-Bet.  During the "visit" Rabbi Richman was told to desist from all his efforts to influence the public or the government into taking action on issues regarding the Temple Mount.  His actions, he was told, were “damaging the relationship with the United States, placing a stumbling block in the path of the peace process, and inciting Arabs to violence.”  He was then threatened with being arrested.  That's right.  A rabbi, with a petition, is indeed dangerous.  

The founder of the Temple Institute, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, also experienced the discriminatory and illogic behavior of the Israeli government.  Muslim clerics in Israel are notorious for crying “wolf!” (i.e. “Jew!”) causing the Israeli police to detain Jews.  When a Jewish holiday approaches, Islamic clerics work their followers into a frenzy over the possibility of Jews visiting the Temple Mount.  On one such occasion before Jerusalem Day 2012, a leading Muslim cleric, Sheikh Yousef Ideis, made such claims.  He warned Arabs to "be alert for possible infiltration of fanatic Jews" onto the Temple Mount.  Instead of ignoring the obviously staged incitement, the Israeli police validated the cleric’s claims, and criminally investigated Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, a national hero, who had the audacity to pray on the Temple Mount.

Rabbi Ariel fought in the 1967 Six Day War.  He was one of the famed Israeli paratroopers who took part in the liberation of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.  Marking the liberation of the Mount, Rabbi Ariel along with other Jews, including Knesset members, visited the Mount on Jerusalem Day.  Surprisingly they were uninhibited by both the Islamic Wakf officials and Israeli police for a few moments, so they took advantage of the rare occasion and sang and prayed.  Rabbi Ariel’s prayer was captured on video and he can be heard saying, "I have waited forty-five years to be able to say the Shehechianu (literally, "He who has kept us alive,") here on the Temple Mount."  He then said a memorial prayer for his fallen comrades.

After Jerusalem Day, Rabbi Ariel tried to ascend the Temple Mount again, but to his surprise was prohibited from doing so by the Israeli police.  He was informed that he was barred indefinitely from the Mount and that he was under criminal investigation for actions, “that were not in compliance with the law.”  Which begs the question, which law?  Sharia law? 

It is not against Israeli law for a Jew to pray or show any type of reverence on the Temple Mount.  But by acquiescing to Arabs who get upset over a Jew moving his or her lips on the Temple Mount, the Israeli police have made it common policy to escort Jews off the Mount, or worse, arrest them if they appear to pray.  For instance, Yosef Hacohen, age 76, felt ill while touring the Temple Mount and needed some water.  Before drinking the water he said a blessing.  Accorinding to Israel National News, Hacohen’s actions, “aroused the ire of three Muslim Wakf officials who had been following the 30-member group of which Hacohen was a participant.”  So naturally what did the Israeli police do?  They arrested Hacohen "on suspicion of reciting the Priestly Blessing."  And just this week, four Jewish teenage boys were arrested for what appeared to be bowing on the Temple Mount.
The Israeli police capitulate to the demands of the Arabs to such an extent that on Holocaust Memorial day they warned Jewish visitors on the Mount not to stand still while the memorial siren sounded because it would “upset the Muslim Wakf officials.”  The sentiment, “Never again!” seems to have been lost on the police.

As Jews become aware of the discrimination on the Temple Mount, many are beginning to protest.  A few months ago, youth group Bnei Akiva held a protest rally in Jerusalem against the discrimination.  When they applied for a permit they were told by police that they could not hold banners with the famous words, "The Temple Mount is in our hands," because it would be a provocation against Arabs. Thankfully, MK's at the time, Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben Ari, attended the rally and held a sign with the forbidden words.

The most recent act of discrimination against Jews was on Tisha B’Av, the day Jews mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temple, yes the Temples the Arabs claim never existed.  Hundreds of Jews, including Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin and MK Shuli Mualem, arrived early to ascend the Mount on such an auspicious day.  However, they were locked off the Mount.  The gates were literally shut and locked in their faces by order of Netanyahu, who some believe had taken his orders from Jordanian officials, who administer the Wakf.

A contentious Knesset meeting was held the day after the group was locked off of the Temple Mount.  Feiglin, not satisfied with the vagueness of Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich’s “reasoning” for keeping Jews off the Temple Mount, demanded that the minister admit that the actions were not security related but rather, the Israeli government feared a confrontation with the Muslim Wakf, which administers the Temple Mount, and with the Jordanian government.

With a growing number of Jews supporting him, Feiglin continues to keep the sovereignty of the Temple Mount in public debate.  He boldly spoke of the white elephant that has been sitting on the Mount since 1967 when Moshe Dayan immediately gave administration of the Temple Mount back to the Arab Wakf.  He said, “Israel’s government did not want to liberate Jerusalem. Or to be more specific, the Labor and National Religious Party ministers did not want to liberate Jerusalem.” 

Because of the Israeli government’s continual policy of keeping the status quo intact, i.e. pandering to Arab demands, Feiglin has acknowledged that it will take a grass-roots movement by Jews to instigate change.  As he said in a 2012 Temple Mount Awareness Day interview, “Every Jewish step on the Temple Mount will bring back sovereignty of the Temple Mount to the Jewish people.” 

Even some members of the Israeli police have expressed that an increased presence of Jews on the Temple Mount would create drastic changes.  At a conference in Jerusalem in 2009 regarding Jewish ties to the Mount authorities said, “If only more Jews would visit the Temple Mount on a regular basis, the entire balance of power would shift. There would be a paradigm shift; the attitude of the government and the police would be different towards the Jewish visitors on the Temple Mount. The Muslim terror would be abated. Many Jewish people visiting the Temple Mount would be the cure to the overall security situation.” 

Perhaps the millions of Jews who visit the Kotel instead of the Temple Mount will take those words to heart soon.  Yet, currently, because very few Jews try to exercise their rights on the Mount, it is convenient for the Israeli police to dismiss the lawful rights of Jews and instead indulge the demands of the Arabs.  The adage "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" rings true.  The Arabs simply make more noise than the Jews do over the Mount.  Thankfully, that is beginning to change.

The novelist Anthony Trollope once said, “My belief is that in life people will take you at your own reckoning.”  If only Israel would grasp that concept.  When Israel takes its own rights, sovereignty, and destiny seriously the world will follow suit.  

As a government official, Feiglin has taken on the mantle established by Temple Mount activists such as Rabbi Ariel and Rabbi Richman, and is leading the way in taking the issue of Israel’s sovereignty seriously as recently demonstrated by his words to the Arab MK’s.  He said, “When a guest is in my home, I give him respect.  As long as they understand who is the host, and who is the guest, everything is fine.  We have to speak the truth: this is our land, not yours. You are guests. The minute that you are guests, you deserve every individual right. But when it becomes a national struggle – you do not deserve anything.”

Feiglin also told the Arab MK’s recently, “I know of no other minority in the entire human race that receives so much, and wails so much.”  Perhaps soon the rest of the Israeli government and the Israeli police will share Feiglin’s sentiments and implement their rightful position of sovereignty throughout the entire Land of Israel, but especially on the Temple Mount, instead of giving in to the wails of the children of Ishmael.  After all, unless I'm mistaken, it is called the Land of Israel for a reason, not the Land of Ishmael.

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