Thursday, January 15, 2015

Jews, the Temple Mount and Israeli law

The Temple Mount is located in Jerusalem, Israel. It’s Judaism’s holiest place on earth.

As Judaism appeals to more and more Jews around the world, a growing number of Jews want to visit the Temple Mount. They seek that experience both for its tourist and spiritual value.

But when these Jews make the attempt to visit, they are routinely stopped by Jerusalem police officers.  The police treat them with suspicion.

Jews are forbidden to pray on the Temple Mount. They cannot bring prayer books. They cannot stand in one place and move their lips. They cannot bow (“Police Warn Jewish Children for Bowing on Temple Mount”, Arutz Sheva, July 9, 2013).

Jerusalem police threaten Jews with arrest if they don’t follow these restrictions (“Jewish Youth Arrested On Temple Mount for Bowing”, Arutz Sheva, November 13, 2013). Sometimes, Jerusalem police don’t allow Jews entry at all (“Temple Mount Closed to Jews on Tisha B'Av”, Arutz Sheva, July 29, 2012).

Sometimes, the Jerusalem police ban Jews from ascending the Mount even after they have granted Jews permission to ascend (“Jews Banned from Temple Mount after One Hour”, Arutz Sheva, September 25, 2013). Sometimes, police do nothing when Muslims chase Jews away from the Mount (“Muslim Extremists Force Jews From Temple Mount”, Arutz Sheva, July 15, 2013).

Some Jews have begun to claim that Jerusalem police discriminate against Jews on the Temple Mount (“Discrimination Against Jews Continues at the Temple Mount”, Arutz Sheva, October 28, 2013). They may be right: Jerusalem police have admitted that they do not treat Jewish and Muslim visitors to the Mount equally; at the very least, police inspect the belongings of Jews far more intrusively than the way they inspect Muslim visitor belongings (“Police Admit Different Check on Muslims on Temple Mount “, Arutz Sheva, July 14, 2014).

Such police behaviour seems curious. In Jerusalem, Jerusalem police allow Christians to go their holiest sites. Jerusalem police allow Muslims to go to their holiest sites. Why do Jerusalem police forbid only Jews from praying on their holiest site?

The Temple Mount has an ‘administrator’. He is called the Waqf. He is an Arab Muslim. He is Jordan’s agent at the Temple Mount. He wants Jews to be banned from the Temple Mount (“Report: Jordan vetoes Israeli request to allow Jewish prayer on Temple Mount”, Jerusalem Post, November 12, 2013).

But in 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a Peace Treaty. That Treaty committed both Israel and Jordan to allow free access to holy sites to Christians, Jews and Muslims. That treaty committed both Israel and Jordan to allow Christians, Jews and Muslims the freedom to worship at their holy sites, including the Temple Mount.

The courts in Israel have upheld this right for Jews. They have ruled that Jews have a right to pray on the Temple Mount (“Discrimination Against Jews Continues…”, ibid).

But Jordan betrays its Peace Treaty. It demands Jews be forbidden from the Mount (Jerusalem Post, above).  The Waqf, Jordan’s agent, demands the same thing.

Jerusalem police ignore the Treaty. They assist Jordan and the Waqf to restrict Jews (“Islamic Movement Leader: Temple Mount for Muslims Only “, Arutz Sheva, December 8, 2013).

Could it be true that Jerusalem police actively support the call to ban Jews? Could Jerusalem police be ignoring Israel’s courts in favour of Arab demands?

The answer to both questions might be, yes. A news story suggests that Jerusalem’s Police Chief himself may be behind all the restrictions Jerusalem police have placed upon Jews.  

You see, this Police Chief doesn’t declare that Jews on the Temple Mount represent a freedom promised under an existing peace treaty. As Police Chief, he doesn’t announce that he will uphold Israel’s courts by working to facilitate Jewish worship on the Mount. As an Israeli Jewish public official, he doesn’t say that, because the Temple Mount is part of Jewish Israel, his officers will protect it for Jews.

Instead, Jerusalem’s Police Chief, Yochanan Danino, announces that the Temple Mount is an ‘existential threat’ to Israel (“Danino: Temple Mount an 'Existential Threat to Israel", Arutz Sheva, January 14, 2015). He says that the Temple Mount is as much a threat to Israel’s continued existence as a nuclear Iran (ibid).

Apparently, he would be happier if Jews would be completely cut off from Judaism’s holiest site. His position seems to be, the Waqf prohibits Jewish worship at the Temple Mount; therefore, I will help him (“Jordan's Waqf no Match for Israelis in Jerusalem”, Huffington Post, April 4, 2013).

He protects the Waqf, not Jews. He doesn’t care that Israeli courts have upheld Jews’ rights to worship on the Mount. He doesn’t seem to care what the law says.

Well, he’s a Chief of Police, not a Leftist politician. His first duty is to uphold the law.

If he doesn’t do that, he should be fired.


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