(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
One day after police contained Muslim rioting on the Temple Mount – intended to prevent Jews visiting the site during Tisha Be’av – right-wing activist Yehudah Glick praised the government for not capitulating to the violence by closing the contested holy site to Jews, as it has done in the past.
Glick, head of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, said, however, that much more work remains to be done by the authorities to reverse decades of tolerated Muslim intimidation and violence there. He added that the government also needs to safeguard the rights of Jewish worshipers at the site who are routinely threatened and accosted.
“In general, I think yesterday we saw the government moving the police in the right direction by not closing down the Temple Mount due to Muslim extremists, and that needs to continue,” he said during a Monday phone interview.
“I think that anybody who saw the pictures the police released [of the rioting] understands that we’re not dealing with ordinary people who come to pray, but with people who are closer in behavior to terrorists.”
“These are people whose whole goal is causing disorder and trying to frighten Jews from visiting the Temple Mount; trying to violently change the status of the Temple Mount,” Glick continued.
“I think it’s quite obvious that these people exhibit terrorist traits. We experience this behavior every day, and the government should show their intolerance to this.”
Glick contended that two steps must be taken by the government – in coordination with the police – to effectively address the Temple Mount’s entrenched climate of hostility and violence towards Jews.
“First, it should fight these groups like terrorists by making them illegal, and if necessary, using force to get them out of there,” he said.
“Second, the government must implement a policy to deescalate the tension and allow for freedom of prayer for Jews.”
In my eyes, there’s no reason why Jews and Muslims can’t pray together, but if the radical Muslims who have taken over the Temple Mount can’t tolerate Jews praying there, the government must block them and initiate some settlement where Jews can pray in peace and quiet without being attacked on a regular basis,” he continued.
The Temple Mount Heritage Foundation leader said that Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan must initiate a policy to ensure that Muslim radicals are barred from the site.
“I think yesterday we saw a first step toward that when Erdan didn’t shut down the Temple Mount to tourists and allowed them to visit,” he said. “The police announced: ‘No matter what, we’re going to keep the Temple Mount open.’” Glick described the arrest last Thursday of Avia Morris as unfair.
Morris was arrested when – after enduring anti-Semitic taunts – she responded to a group of Muslims with the insult “Muhammad is a pig.” Glick said that while Morris’s comment was foolish, her arrest was unfair.
“I don’t think that remark was smart or should have been said,” he said. “But I saw the film – she was on the Temple Mount for 45 minutes with non-stop harassment, surrounded by almost 100 men and women who were screaming and cursing.”
Glick said the fact that none of the Muslims was arrested for equally inflammatory rhetoric is “absurd.”
“Again, I don’t think there’s any need to make such remarks, but to arrest her and none of the other people verbally attacking her is absurd and strange,” he said.