Tony Greenstein | 01 November 2015 | Post Views:

The Challenge to Palestinian Rights Over the Temple Mount is Political not Religious

The Dome of the Rock 

The central
point of this article from Al Jazeera is correct.  The battle over the ‘right’ of Jewish nationalists
to pray at the Al Aqsa mosque is not a religious battle but a nationalist one.  Religion is simply  the form the war takes.  As the article in the Jerusalem Post makes
clear, Chief Rabbis reimpose ban on Jews visiting Temple Mount  Orthodox Jews
have always been prohibited from going onto the Temple Mount for fear of
trespassing on the Holy of Holies, where the High Priest of the Temple used to
hang around with god.

Those who are pushing
for the right to  pray on the Temple Mount
and in Al Aqsa mosque are the Jewish nationalists whose religion is defined and
determined by their nationalism.  Nationalism
harnessed to religion is a heady brew and has always manifested itself in a
racist and chauvinist manner.  That was
as true of the Crusades, nearly a thousand years  ago as it is of Zionism  Jewish nationalism today.  It can be no other since it posits a
particular religion as the badge of identification of racial supremacy.  This is manifested as a perversion of the Chosen
People concept.  The religion of the
nationalists consists of the worship of the Land of Israel at the expense of
the people of Israel.  It is is of course
a form of idolatory.  Hence why they
disregard the injunction not to go on to the Temple Mount since they are
Messianists who wish to build a Third Temple.

Police invade the Mosque of al-Aqsa attacking worshipers and causing damage

Ever year in Jerusalem
the Temple Mount Faithful stage a reenaction of the scane they wish to carry
out when al-Aqsa mosque is razed to the ground and their Third Temple is
built.  This year it was accompanied by the
ritual sacrifice of a lamb and  the whole
performance is funded by the Jerusalem city council.  Temple Mount Faithful sacrifices lamb in pre-Passover ritual 

Al Aqsa Mosque

The Temple
Institute, another group dedicated to the demolition of the Golden Dome and the
Mosque of al-Aqsa, is funded by the Israeli government.  So much for the claim that the govt  is committed to no change to the status quo

Tony Greenstein

Yehuda Glick – one of the most assiduous of the Temple Mount Faithful – was nearly assassinated recently

Israeli rightists push for takeover of Al-Aqsa compound

Right-wing Jewish organisations are advocating for an increased Israeli
presence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound

| 29 Oct 2015
14:30 GMT |
across occupied Palestinian territories have been triggered by increased
Israeli incursions Al-Aqsa Mosque compound [Ammar Awad/Reuters]

Right-wing political leaders and groups have called for Israel to exercise
control over the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as the Israeli government takes harsh
measures to quell ongoing Palestinian unrest. 

to the Mount, a hardline right-wing Zionist organisation, announced this week
that it would pay 2,000 shekels ($516) to Jewish-Israelis detained while
praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site for

Jewish groups refer to the site as the Temple Mount and their increased
incursions into the mosque compound have triggered Palestinian protests across
the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. 

Although formally banned from praying there, Israeli activists enjoy police
escort when they venture into the compound. 

Speaking to Israel’s Channel 2 on Tuesday, Raphael Morris, head of Returning
to the Mount, accused the Israeli government of imposing “ruthless
restrictions” on Jewish Israelis.

“We are not prepared [to let] the situation deteriorate.”

“We must act not only to end the slide, but moreover for the addition
of rights for Jews on the mount, the first of which is prayer,”
said, as reported by the Times of Israel website.  

The group’s Facebook is full of posts calling for Israel to destroy the
Al-Aqsa Mosque and raise a Jewish temple in its place. 

These fever-pitch calls come at a time when Palestinian protests against
Israel’s ongoing occupation and harsh policies are growing in frequency in
Palestinian communities in Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza. 

Protesters have been met with force, with Israeli soldiers using live
ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and stun grenades. 

Since October 1, Israeli forces or settlers have killed 66 Palestinians,
including unarmed protesters, bystanders and alleged attackers.

More than 1,000 Palestinians, among them children, have been arrested this
month, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club. 

During that same period, nine Israelis have been killed by Palestinians in
stabbing or shooting attacks. 

Also on Tuesday, Israeli Deputy Minister Tzipi Hotovely – a member of the
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ultra-nationalist Likud party –
referred to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as “the centre of Israeli
sovereignty, the capital of Israel”.

“It is my dream to see the Israeli flag flying” over Al-Aqsa, she
told Knesset TV, the Israeli parliament’s television channel.   

In response, Netanyahu’s office later that night put out a statement saying
that “non-Muslims visit the Temple Mount [Al-Aqsa compound]” but are
not permitted to pray there. 

Biblical claims

Hotovely was criticised in May when she cited religious texts as
justification for Israeli settlement expansion. Citing medieval Jewish
scholar Rabbi Shlomo Ben Yitzhaki, she said that “the creator of the world” took the
land from Palestinians “and gave it to us”. 

More than 530,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements – considered
illegal by international law – across the West Bank, according to the
Israeli rights group B’Tselem.  

protesters from the ‘Students for the Temple Mount’ group call on Israeli
security forces to let them into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on August 9 [Abir

Last month, the Temple Mount and Eretz Yisrael Faithful Movement, a hardline
Israeli organisation that advocates removing the Al-Aqsa Mosque, organised a
march as tensions soared. 

The group published a statement calling on Jews to protect the Temple Mount,
which is “in the hands of Israel’s enemies”. 

“We will stop the Islamisation of the Temple Mount and the construction
of more mosques,”
it read, adding that Israeli police forces will provide
the marchers with protection. 

According to Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, a research group,
Israeli leaders intentionally attempt to portray the ongoing unrest as a
religious conflict in order to justify using force against anti-occupation
protests and to deflect criticism of harsh policies.

“Israel’s framing of the conflict along religious lines is an attempt
to decontextualise the clashes that have been happening between Palestinians
and Israeli settlers,”  
Nur Arafeh, a policy fellow at Al-Shabaka, told Al

Arafeh said that Palestinian “resistance to a settler-colonial and
apartheid” are time and again “distortedly linked to religious

“While Netanyahu claims that he has no intention to change the status
quo, Israeli settlers have strong and deepening ties with Israeli authorities
that have been providing them with financial, political, and legal assistance
and coverage.” 

Several senior officials of the Israeli government and high-ranking members
of Netanyahu’s Likud party are committed supporters of Temple Mount movements
and have attempted to advance their programme in the Knesset, according to a
December 2014 report by the Jerusalem based group Ir Amim. 

The report found that Netanyahu has “refrained from confronting them
publicly or from commenting on the destructive impact of their

Between May 2013 and October 2014, the Knesset Interior Committee held 14
discussions about Jewish access to the mosque compound, as compared to four
meetings in the decade prior. 

Ir Amim describes these discussions “as a central stage for backing
extreme right Temple movement activists”
and “a platform for
right-wing Knesset members to level criticism at authorities responsible for
at the holy site. 

Some 27 right-wing Jewish movements advocate for an expansion of Israel’s
presence at the compound, according to the United Temple Mount Movement, an
umbrella group that represents the organisations. 

While many only publicly focus on increasing Jewish prayer at the site, they
all maintain the messianic view that the mosque will be replaced with a Jewish
temple, according to another Ir Amim report published in October 2014. 

‘Intense incitement’

In recent months, however, security forces have imposed tighter entry
restrictions to the Al-Aqsa area on Palestinians, often placing arbitrary age
restrictions on male worshippers. 

Earlier this month, Netanyahu banned all Knesset members from visiting the
holy site, including Palestinian legislators in the Israeli parliament.

While Netanyahu has been mostly quiet about right-wing Jewish groups pushing
for an Israeli takeover of the holy site, he has lashed out at Palestinian
legislators who defy his order.

Most recently, Bassel Ghattas, a legislator in the Knesset and member of the
Balad political party, defied the ban and visited the mosque to show solidarity
with worshippers on Wednesday. 

Emphasising that Ghattas is a Christian, Netanyahu accused him of attempting
to “provoke” an escalation and “inflame the

Yousef Jabareen, a Knesset member from the Arab-majority Joint List
electoral coalition, said that Netanyahu and his political allies “are the
ones who have been inciting”. 

“We have been witnessing intense incitement by Netanyahu and his allies
against Palestinian Knesset members,”
he told Al Jazeera. 

“The idea is to delegitimise our
role in Israeli politics,”
he said. “I believe that this incitement
serves Netanyahu to go ahead with his discriminatory policies”
Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories. 

After an increasing number of religious people ignore rabbinate’s ruling, chief
rabbis reiterate their stance.

Chief rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef have signed a declaration
reiterating the Chief Rabbinate’s opposition to Jews visiting the Temple Mount.

The Chief Rabbinate has – since its inception under Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak
Hacohen Kook in 1921 – banned Jews from visiting the site out of a concern they
may inadvertently step into an area which, in Jewish law, it is forbidden to
enter unless one is ritually pure. It is not possible to perform the
purification ceremony today for various halachic reasons.

In their signed declaration, Lau and Yosef said they were repeating the
prohibition first issued by Kook against going up to the Temple Mount.

“In light of [those] neglecting [this ruling], we once again warn that
nothing has changed and this strict prohibition remains in effect for the
entire area [of the Temple Mount],”
the chief rabbis wrote.

The declaration, which was promoted and advanced by senior
national-religious leader Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, was also signed by several other
leading rabbis, including former chief rabbis Shlomo Amar and Bakshi Doron,
Rabbi Tzvi Tau, dean of the haredi-Zionist Yeshiva Har Hamor, and others.

In recent years, increasing numbers of religious people have ascended to the
site, largely due to the activities of several religious organizations which
promote Jewish rights and Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount complex.

Their activities have been given religious sanction by several leading
national-religious rabbis, who rule that it is possible to visit the Temple
Mount without entering the prohibited areas.

Rabbi Dov Lior, the chief rabbi of Kiryat Shmona and Hebron, and one of the
most respected national-religious authorities in Jewish law, reiterated his
position recently in the Shabbat pamphlet Gilui Da’at that it is halachically
permissible to visit the Temple Mount.

The increasing number of people visiting the site and the increasingly vocal
campaign insisting on the right of Jews to visit and pray there have led to
increased tensions at the Temple Mount and intense political opposition from
Arab MKs.

In a Knesset committee hearing on the issue in November, MK Jamal Zahalka of
Balad accused Bayit Yehudi lawmakers who are supportive of Jewish rights on the
Temple Mount of being “pyromaniacs,” telling them “you’re playing with fire and
you’re starting an inferno.”

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Tony Greenstein

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