“Good.” “Finally.” “Glad they came to their senses.”
These were but some of the responses to the Palestinian announcement that they would drop their bid to rename the Western Wall as a Muslim holy site. People were happy that sanity had been restored to lunacy, a lunacy in which the Palestinians had the audacity to lay claim to a fundamentally Jewish holy site.
Then there were others who got angry at such reactions. They said things such as, “The Palestinian Authority said yesterday, ‘I want to kick you.’ Now they’ve agreed not to kick you. Why are we applauding such behavior? As a variation of Chris Rock’s routine would go, you’re not supposed to kick people!”
And there’s truth in that second response. They shouldn’t have ever made such a ridiculous claim in the first place, that applauding their withdrawal seems so pathetic, it’s almost exactly what the Palestinian Authority wanted. They WANTED people to react that way. It’s a classic bargaining tool. You overreach on price so that you can “settle” for a still higher price than one should ever pay. The Palestinians never expected to get away with claiming the Western Wall is Islamic. But by staking a claim to a site so intrinsically identified as Jewish only, they managed to steal all focus from anywhere else, so that when their claim was dropped, no one could do anything but cheer.*
However, even that response isn’t enough. Because guess what else IS included in the heinous UNESCO resolution that passed: It called the Tomb of Rachel a Palestinian and Arabic site. It did the same for the Cave of the Patriarchs and even the Mughrabi gate to the Temple Mount which is a gate! It specifically did NOT recognize any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount.
So really, the complaint goes like this: “The Palestinian Authority said they want to kick you, punch you, rob you, and stab you, but they decided not to kick you. How sweet of them.”
Given that, it’s scary the way many in the Jewish world are responding to this. Take the Cave of the Patriarchs as an example. This hosts the tombs of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca and Leah (not to mention the head of Esau). Muslims can lay claim to 1.5 tombs, Adam/Eve and Abraham. Jews can lay claim to the whole Cave. So UNESCO has said that the whole structure is Islamic with no Jewish connection. This is the reality of 2015 – the Palestinians, through their UN friends, are delegislating the Jewish people’s entire connection to the Land of Israel, and the Jewish community isn’t saying boo.
We must stand up and fight this. And this is why Jews must ascend the Temple Mount. Not in just hundreds and not even in thousands. On holidays and vacations, thousands and thousands of Jews should attempt, every day, to ascend the Temple Mount! Provocation? Not at all. As Yinon Magal pointed out so incredibly well, it’s extremist to say that Jews, in the Jewish State, have no right to ascend to the holiest site in Judaism. Because if you believe in denying our history, and you believe that in the face of terror, we should be “pragmatic,” why believe in Israel? Why does any Jew live in Israel? The Palestinians don’t want us here and will fight with every terror tool to get the Jews out. So wouldn’t it be “pragmatic” to leave? Isn’t it “provocation” to remain in Israel, almost “sticking it to the Palestinians?” Yet we stay. Because Israel is forever the nation homeland of the Jewish people.
I don’t expect Mahmoud Abbas to give up the fight, and I don’t expect the UN to suddenly wake up and say, “wait a second! In the 1920s, the Arabs specifically referred to the Temple Mount as the site of the 2 ancient Jewish temples. Why the change?” I don’t expect the UN to ever recognize Jewish rights, regardless of where they may be.
However, we a community, whether it be Israelis, Jews, Zionists, or anyone who cares about history, humanity, and peace, cannot allow this to sleep aside without notice. We mustn’t settle for the Palestinians dropping their bid to rename the Western Wall. We must proudly recognize the Temple Mount as ours. We must proudly recognize the Cave of the Patriarchs, the Tomb of Rachel, and the Tomb of Joseph (among others) as ours. And we must never be ashamed that Israel will forever remain the nation-state homeland of the Jewish people.
*It should be noted that the Western Wall is not actually a Jewish holy site. The Western Wall is simply the most accessible area to any of the Temple Mount retaining walls, built by Herod. (This was the case at least up until a few years when areas of the Southern Wall became just as, if not more, accessible.) The holy site in Judaism was the Temple which stood on Temple Mount, and the Temple Mount itself is the only area that actually maintains holiness. The Western Wall isn’t even holy via proximity. It’s simply holy as the site of so much prayer service there for the past 40 years, much like a synagogue. The Western Wall is nice, but by focusing our efforts on the Western Wall, the game is already lost.