October 21: When prayer is politicized

The time has come for Israel to behave like a free and sovereign nation and establish its authority over the site that is most holy to the Jewish people.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Sir, – In the same issue of The Jerusalem Post, two articles appeared, both concerned with praying.
One deals with righteous anger at the brazen discrimination practiced against religious Jews by not allowing them to even move their lips when visiting the Temple Mount, lest they be guilty of praying (“A place for Jews on the Temple Mount,” Fundamentally Freund, Comment and Features, October 18). When a policeman was asked why Jews were barred from praying, his reply was “It would upset the Arabs.”
The second piece deals with the arrest, humiliation and jailing overnight of a woman who dared to sing Shema Yisrael at the Kotel (“Women of the Wall leader arrested for singing at the Kotel,” October 18).
The moving force behind this latter outrage are these same Orthodox Jews (see above) who cannot tolerate the prayers of women in public, and who demand that women not be permitted to drape themselves in the same “tallitot” as men, etc.
I wonder what a policeman would reply if he were questioned as to why woman were barred from praying? Possibly, “It would upset the Jews?” The fact that at long last we have our own state is no reason to run it like a dictatorship.
Sir, – I had to reread the article about Anat Hoffman being arrested for singing at the Kotel a few times before I could take in its meaning.
This is an offense punishable by being arrested? What kind of society are we living in? When was such a law passed? Who are these religious “leaders” who are responsible for such an action? Hoffman’s description of the treatment meted out to her is pretty disgusting, not to say “unbelievable.”
This is Israel? Where someone decided that a woman is less than a man and cannot be allowed to sing at the Kotel? Surely I didn’t vote for a government that would pass such a law! Let’s make sure that this time we get a government that is at least tolerably free of such a mind-set.
Sir, – On October 18 The Jerusalem Post wrote “For security reasons the IDF and the Border Police want to discourage worshipers from walking to and from the tomb over Shabbat” (“120,000 visitors expected at Rachel’s Tomb”).
“[MK Yulia] Shamolov Berkovich traveled down the winding road flanked by two high concrete walls that protect the worshipers from ‘Palestinians’ in Bethlehem. Then she saw the tomb, protected by barbed wire and a guard tower.
Tears fell from her eyes as she described how hard it was to see those walls.”
My reaction when I visited the site of Rachel’s Tomb some two years ago was almost identical except that along with the tears I expressed outrage at how this could happen in a Jewish state.
When I was there, the tears from myself and the visitors flowed freely with all kinds of prayers to our mother Rachel, but what bothered me was how meekly the people accepted being herded in and out after what the police deemed a reasonable time.
They do this due to there always being the high probability that our “peace partners” could attack, and the police do not want to get into a confrontation with the enemy, after all they regard everything in this land as theirs with the Jewish people the illegal occupiers. We certainly do nothing to make them think otherwise.
We shame ourselves, our country, our forefathers/foremothers and we show the world that we can be trampled on with barely a wimper, that we are prepared to be subservient to an enemy that is a clear and present danger and is allowed with impunity to make our lives a living hell.
For the sake of the children if nothing else, lets give them a life.
Sir, – “Hatikva,” our national anthem, avers that our hope of 2,000 years of being a free nation in the land of Zion and Jerusalem has not yet been lost. Yet, as Michael Freund wrote in his October 18 op-ed, our fainthearted leaders at the end of the Six Day War willingly ceded our sovereignty over the Temple Mount to the Muslim Wakf who today practice anti-Jewish racism with the full cooperation of our own government! It is absolutely absurd when anyone but Jews can freely access and pray on the Temple Mount.
All this was done in order not to disturb the sensibilities of the Muslims in total disregard of the sensibilities of the Jews.
The time has come for Israel to behave like a free and sovereign nation and establish its authority over the site that is most holy to the Jewish people.
Sir, – I was one of the privileged members of the group from Ra’anana to ascend the Temple Mount with Michael Freund.
The days leading up to our trip were filled with many mixed emotions and feelings as this has been something that I have yearned to do for many years.
Though I knew that I would very disappointed by the inability to pray or demonstrate any religious expression, I could not stay away.
Our group arrived at the entrance ramp to the Temple Mount and had our passports and Israeli ID’s checked. There was a 20- minute delay in entering which cut short our one hour allowable visit to about 40 minutes.
Of course, the Muslims are permitted to stay on the Mount as long as they wished, or so it seemed to me.
The fact that we were surrounded by Israeli-Arab police and watched very carefully by several members of the Muslim Wakf made it seem that we were in an area ruled more by an Arab state than by our own Jewish Israeli government. It also was quite evident that only religious Jews are treated this way as non- Jews and non-religious Israelis were moving around much more freely.
How could this be? Living in a Democratic country that boasts freedom of religious expression for all especially Christians and Muslims, we were not permitted to utter a single religious verse or even show any display of connecting with our creator on the holiest place on earth for the Jewish people.
Dear Mr. Prime Minister: Why ask the Arab nations of the world to call Israel a Jewish country when its citizens are not allowed to express any form of Jewish connection to our Holiest place on earth? Is “Har Habayit Beyadeynu” (Temple Mount is in our hands) really a reality or just a famous cliche? Let us all pray for the freedom to pray on our holiest place on earth just as other religions are free to do so.
Sir, – The articles by Daniel Tauber “Where Prayer is a Crime” (Comment and Features, October 17) and Michael Freund “A place for Jews on the Temple Mount” (October 18) are to be commended.
The present situation is ludicrous.
It is high time that Jews are permitted to pray in their most sacred place – the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – a practice which should not be compromised by threats of violence by adherents to other religions.
Tolerance should be felt, and shown, by members of all religions to each other, and the Temple Mount should not be considered exclusive to any one religion.
My late Father always maintained that if we Jews do not have respect for our own religion, then we cannot expect those of other religions to respect ours.
Perhaps with elections on the horizon our politicians will reconsider the present unacceptable situation.