As Israel celebrates Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim), commemorating 55 years since the city’s miraculous reunification in 1967, I question the current status quo in Jerusalem and at the holiest of sites: the Temple Mount.
What has happened to the Zion (the Temple Mount) in Zionism? What has happened since God gave us the biggest gift at the end of the shortest and most miraculous war that Israel and the world had ever witnessed, the 1967 Six Day War?
Violence. Hate. Curses. Vandalism on Zion – the Temple Mount. The desecration of God Almighty.
In April alone, during the Jewish holiday of Passover, Israeli newspapers reported violence on the Temple Mount from “suspects who barricaded themselves inside the mosque, causing severe damage, throwing thousands of stones, launching fireworks, and violently rioting for many hours.”
How many more years will it take? How much more will we allow this to happen before we wake up and change the music?
On Sunday, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled that Jews are permitted to recite the “Shema” prayer (Deuteronomy 6:49) and bow during visits to the Temple Mount. This ruling came in response to an appeal made by three teenage boys arrested after bowing on the Mount and reciting Shema, one of the basic tenets of the Jewish faith.
Abdullah and Abbas
King Abdullah of Jordan, along with the head of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the decision, claiming it could “destroy the holy status quo.”
Let’s be clear. Reciting verses or prostrating oneself at a holy site does not endanger anyone. In fact, this is the expected form of behavior when visiting a holy site. Yet here are two leaders who condemn a decision that allows people to pray in peace.
Ironically, when hundreds of Muslims filled the Temple Mount during the Jewish holiday of Passover, throwing stones and inciting hatred and more violence, neither King Abdullah nor Mahmoud Abbas condemned this behavior.
How can King Abdullah and PA leader Abbas justify and legitimize violence while at the same time condemn peaceful prayer?
There is no law forbidding non-Muslim prayer on the Temple Mount. In fact, the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Jewish prayer several times. But the real decision-making power is in the hands of the police – and for them, there is always danger when non-Muslims pray on the Mount.
Even advocating for the freedom of all nations to visit and pray peacefully on the Temple Mount has become a dangerous occupation.
In 2014, an Arab terrorist shot me at point-blank range four times in the chest in an attempted assassination because of my advocacy on behalf of our holy Temple Mount. I survived, miraculously with God’s help, and I have not stopped fighting for the Temple Mount through my organization, the Shalom Jerusalem Foundation, because our holy Temple Mount continues to be desecrated by violent rioters whose sole purpose is to cause harm to security forces, limit the freedom of worship and curb access to holy places.
Please understand. It’s not about territory and it’s not about politics. It’s simply about destroying the 3,000-year-old holiness that permeates the entire Temple Mount.
The status quo is not acceptable.
Fifty-five years is too long. The Temple Mount is our responsibility.
Why shouldn’t all nations have the freedom to pray on the Mount in peace?
We must continue to advocate so we can restore the sounds of holiness once more to our holy Temple Mount.
The writer is a former MK and is president of the Shalom Jerusalem Foundation, dedicated to advocating for Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, and providing access and freedom of prayer for Christians and Jews alike on the Mount.