Thursday, February 27, 2014

Jordan, the Temple Mount and the Jews

The Temple Mount is still in the news (“Jordan Outraged Over Temple Mount Debate”,, February 26, 2014). Now, Israel is to be attacked just for talking about the Temple Mount.

As you may remember, Jordan signed a Peace Treaty with Israel in 1994. One of the agreements associated with that Treaty was a joint commitment to assure freedom of access to and freedom of worship at all Jerusalem holy sites. That assurance included Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount.

As a part of the Treaty, Israel agreed to give to Jordan the custodianship of the Temple Mount. That meant that Jordan became responsible for monitoring and implementing Treaty requirements affecting the Temple Mount. In other words, Jordan agreed that it was responsible to make sure that Jews and Muslims would have free access to the Mount. That Treaty also meant that Jordan, as Temple Mount custodian, was responsible to make sure that Jews would have the freedom to worship on the Temple Mount.

That was the agreement.

Since then, Jews have been restricted from ascending to the Temple Mount. Jews have been arrested for praying on the Mount. Jews are subject to arrest if the move their lips on the Mount. They will be arrested if they bow on the Mount.

Jordan signed that Treaty. They are responsible to uphold its terms and conditions. Restricting freedom of access and denying freedom of worship are violations of that Treaty.

As a result, Israel has had no recourse but to reconsider having agreed to Jordan’s role in administering the Temple Mount which, you may also remember, came under Israel’s control during the 1967 Six-Day War. This week, Israel’s Knesset began a discussion of how to resolve these violations of that Treaty.

The Temple Mount is in Jewish hands. But Jordan, through its custodianship, has taken control of it. Israel is fed up with Jordan’s behaviour—and its violations.

But as other Arabs have since 1948, Jordan spits at Israel—and at the United Nations, which has always (since 1947) insisted that freedom of access and freedom of worship be given to all religions at all of Israel’s holy sites. Jordan absolutely refuses to allow Jews any freedom of religion in every arena it controls. That includes the Temple Mount.

That’s what this issue is about: Jordanian refusal to allow freedom of access and freedom of worship. This issue is clearly about how Jordan has violated a Peace treaty with Israel.

But when Israel, frustrated by Jordan’s brazen bullying, took a first step this week to stop that behaviour, Arabs reacted with anger. No Arab agreed that Jordan had acted in bad faith. Instead, they attacked Israel. For example, Jordan’s Prime Minister warned that “If Israel wants to violate the peace treaty in this issue,” then the entire Treaty will be ‘put on the table’ (“Jordan PM warns Israel over Temple Mount authority”, Times of Israel, February 27, 2014).

Just so you understand what’s going on here, Jordan’s Prime Minister is not angry because Israel took an anti-Jordan action. He is angry because Israel is talking.

Jordan warns Israel. Why? Because Israel is, in the words of one report, “waging the Temple Mount debate” (, ibid). Notice that ‘war’ word, ‘waging’. It suggests that Arabs see Israel’s talk as war-against-the-Arab.

Israel is not talking about war. Israel does not violate a Treaty by discussing Jordan’s violation of that Treaty. Again, the Temple Mount is in Jewish hands. Jews have the right to behave like the owners they are. They granted a custodianship of that property to Jordan—but with terms and conditions. The Jordanians violate those terms and conditions.

The owner of that property has the right to rescind that custodianship.

The Jordanians created this problem by violating their own Treaty. Their anger is outrageous. That anger suggests that they got caught with their proverbial hand in the proverbial cookie jar—and are too arrogant to ‘fess up.’

Their anger is nonsense. They are hypocrites. They violate a Treaty, then threaten Israel when Israel wants to stop those violations.

We would never have come to this moment if Jordan had fulfilled its Treaty obligations. Actually, we would never have come to this point if Israel had refused to give Jordan that custodianship in the first place.

Perhaps the Temple Mount is in the news to remind us that we, as Jews, have a responsibility we have shirked. After all, we keep saying that the Temple Mount is our holiest site. Maybe it’s time we start acting like it is.


No comments:

Post a Comment