Palestinians in front of the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Over 80 years ago, even before the establishment of the State of Israel and the return of Jewish sovereignty to the Temple Mount, the Muslim mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, began to spread lies about Jews trying to harm the Aqsa Mosque. Since then, this evil, false accusation has led to the deaths of many Jews and Muslims alike. Jews have paid with their lives for clinging to their forefathers’ heritage and to the Western Wall, and Muslims have died because of this false and contemptuous blood libel.
Forty-eight years have passed since the Temple Mount, the site of the Temple, returned to Jewish sovereignty – and never have Muslims been restricted from entering. On the contrary, the State of Israel has invested great effort to make freedom of worship possible on the Mount – even at the cost of harming Jewish visitors who wish to ascend to the site. (Without debating the issue of allowing Jews into the Temple Mount area, the Chief Rabbinate, which I represent, forbids Jewish entry to the Temple Mount.) And yet, from the depths of hatred, the cry of “The Temple Mount is in Danger” is sounded again, enlisting naïve people who will kill and be killed in this mendacious war.
Only a few days ago, on the eve of Rosh Hashana, another name was added to the horrific list of the Temple Mount libel victims. A Jew, wrapped in tallit and tefillin, was on his way to the Western Wall when he was nearly beaten to death by a gang of young Muslims. His only sin was his Jewish appearance, and for this he almost paid with his life.
Since then and while these words are being written, the Temple Mount is aflame. Make no mistake – this fire is burning from within the Mount, not outside of it. This fire is bursting forth from Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs that have been hoarded over a long period by heartless and Godless people in preparation for a well-planned attack on Jewish worshipers praying at the Western Wall during Rosh Hashana, which took place this week.
I ask you, dear readers of these words – can you conceive of desecrating the holy site with ammunition? Would you dare bring arms meant for murder into your House of God? Can you imagine making your God a co-conspirator in your plan to harm innocent men, women and children? Indeed, Haj Amin al-Husseini was correct in declaring that the Temple Mount is in danger. It is in danger because of those who call themselves “believers,” but use faith to rationalize their blind hatred and cruelty toward Jews. The Temple Mount is in danger from those who claim to be men of religion, but who use their position to spread hatred, dispute and war. Is this God’s will? Is it for this purpose that we were all created? So that we shed each other’s blood forever? If the Temple Mount were sacred to you, you would not dare turn its mosques into armories and its gates into blockades.
If the Temple Mount were sacred to you, you would not build fortifications and blockades on it while drafting hotheaded youngsters to entrench themselves there until blood is spilled.
We Jews prayed on Rosh Hashana at the Western Wall for the entire world. We prayed for a year of blessings and abundance for all people, of all nations. How despicable and far from God is the attempt to harm Jews while they are praying such prayers.
My Muslim brothers, could it be that you would defame the Temple Mount in the name of its holiness? Could it be that you would desecrate the House of God in the name of faith? Seeing the terrible pictures of blood, fire and smoke in the place that is holy and dear to you, ask yourselves – is this what God desires? At the start of every new year, Jews bless each other by saying, “May the year and its maledictions end.”
I pray that these curses that have befallen us at the start of this year will end as they began, and that He who makes peace up in His high places will make peace for us.The author is rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites.