Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the supervisor of the Western Wall and Israel’s holy sites and chairman of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, has spoken out against attempts to prevent Jews from visiting the Temple Mount.
In a statement to the press, Rabinowitz denounced the “vitriolic words uttered by Arab sources” regarding the entry to the Temple Mount and accused them of trying to start a religious war over the site, and said that the confrontation endangers the region.
Just last week, MK Taleb Abu Arar (United Arab List-Ta’al) said that the Temple Mount should be “permanently closed to Jews since they have nothing to do there.”
Recent months and years have witnessed an increase in Jewish visitation to the site, and Arab worshipers have frequently protested, often violently, against such visits.
The Temple Mount is under Israeli sovereignty but is administered by the Wakf Islamic religious trust which strictly limits non-Muslim access and rights at the site.
In Rabinowitz’s statement, he noted that he is himself opposed to Jewish visitation to the Temple Mount, since many rabbinic authorities prohibit such visits out of concern that the ritual purity required to go to the site is not currently attainable.
Other rabbinic opinions say that it is possible visit the site and avoid areas of the site that would be problematic to enter into from the perspective of Jewish law.
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Rabinowitz said, however, that despite this opinion, he felt a need to reject attempts to prevent Jews from visiting.
“Jewish sovereignty over the Temple Mount is engraved on the pages of the history of the Jewish people,” the rabbi said.
“Those who seek to fan the flames and to turn the right to pray at the Temple Mount into a religious war are external agents acting with inappropriate intentions.
We must not let the Temple Mount become a factor in political interests. We must not allow this war to continue,” the rabbi went on.
He advocated “the ability to live together in peace in the Old City of Jerusalem, despite differences of opinion, where representatives of three religions live in dignity, while preserving their own traditions.
“I call on everyone not to let a religious war happen, and not to intensify the argument.
We must understand that politics must be outside of the discussion when it comes to the holy places and to allow peace to prevail in such realms.”
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