It is the fast of Tisha Be’Av (9th of Av) today (OK, technically it is the 10th today, since we don’t fast on Shabbat besides on Yom Kippur), the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. The fast commemorates the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem as well as a whole slew of tragic events that befell the Jewish people on that day. You can read about the various aspects of the fast in my post about Tisha Be’Av from last year.
As I mentioned in my previous post, the virtual destruction of Jerusalem continues to this day, with foreign media and governments refusing to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and in the case of the Muslims, often refusing to recognize the Jewish connection to Israel at all.
Aridog mentioned in his comment on the previous post that although the State Department has Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in practice they have the hardest time admitting such. See White House spokesman Jay Carney’s refusal to say that Jerusalem is the capital. This stance is not new though. I have blogged about the Administration’s problems with Jerusalem before, here and here.
Elder of Ziyon blogs regularly about the Palestinians’ outrage at Jews ascending to the Temple Mount, and heaven help them (literally) if they dare to so much as move their lips in prayer. A typical example of this outrage can be seen in his post from this week: “Today’s usurpers of Al-Aqsa”.
Palestinian Muslim sites are freaking out over the third consecutive day of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, saying that they are “desecrating” and “usurping” the Al Aqsa Mosque (which they, of course, never enter.)
They said this is an “incursion,” a “break in,” and an “attack.” Plus, of course, these Jews are accused of “performing Talmudic rituals,” the worst possible thing anyone can imagine.
It is exceedingly hard to imagine the Jewish people ever being able to rebuild the Bet Hamikdash if the thought of them simply praying on the Mount is enough to set the Muslims off. (Admittedly it doesn’t take an awful lot to set them off).
Sadly and outrageously, some real destruction is being carried out by the Waqf on at the Temple Mount, destroying priceless artefacts from the First and Second Temple days. A Haaretz article from last year documents this desecration.
Adding insult to injury, Maayana Miskin in Arutz Sheva writes that the Arab League has warned Israel to stay away from the Temple Mount:
The Arab League has released a statement warning Israel to stay away from the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The mosque is located on the Temple Mount, which Judaism teaches is the holiest site in the world.
Surprisingly, the Arab League statement termed the mosque “the holiest of the Arab and Islamic holy sites.” Normally, Mecca is considered the holiest site to Islam and Muslims in Jerusalem pray facing Mecca with their backs to the Temple Mount.
The statement warned the “occupation authorities” against interfering with the mosque. “The city of Al-Quds [Jerusalem] and at its head the Al-Aqsa Mosque, is a red line that must not be crossed, and any attack on it will definitely endanger the safety and stability of the entire region,” it stated.
The Arab League’s anger was aroused by what it termed an “extremist invasion” by police to check IDs and temporarily bar access to the mosque due to Ramadan.
A Muslim Brotherhood-linked doctors’ association in Egypt plans to protest over the matter. Its demonstration will be held on Saturday night, as Jews mourn the destruction of the Temple.
The association may be burning the Israeli flag just as Israelis circle the Temple Mount in the annual Tisha B’Av (9th of Av) march.
Like I said, it doesn’t take much to anger the Muslims. They urgently need some anger-management classes.
In response to these outrages against Jewish tradition and sensibilities, Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute protests in a JTA article, “Stop the Waqf desecration of the Temple Mount”. (Apologies for quoting almost the entire article. I feel that every word is of utmost importance).
This year, as Israel observes the traditional period of national mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple on Tisha b’Av (which starts at sundown on Saturday), it has again been revealed that the Islamic Wakf is carrying out unsupervised work at the Temple Mount, potentially causing irrevocable damage to Judaism’s holiest site.
Of all the unsolved questions surrounding Jerusalem’s ancient biblical past, this modern mystery seems to present the greatest riddle: How is it that in the State of Israel, a country that is home to priceless archeological treasures that are safeguarded by a governmental Antiquities Authority known for its sweeping powers and far-reaching control, archeological crimes are regularly and systematically committed with impunity by serial offenders whose identity is known to the police?
The crimes, perpetrated in broad daylight in the national homeland of the Jewish people, inflict irreparable damage to the very core of the Jewish people’s identity. The Temple Mount, one of the most significant ancient sites in the world, has somehow acquired a sort of legal extra-terrestrial status, with a sort of perverse diplomatic immunity wielded by the Islamic Wakf that controls it.
The Israeli attorney general again has reiterated that the Temple Mount is under Israeli sovereignty. But, he adds, authorities must be “extra sensitive” in applying Israeli law to the site. He added that any time authorities need to “test the application of law in the Temple Mount complex, they should be pragmatic and take the area’s unique status into consideration.”
Infrastructure work is currently being carried out within the Dome of the Rock at the very heart of the Temple Mount — the Foundation Stone. Torah teaches that this spot is the very center of creation, from which the universe was founded, hence its name.
It was upon this stone that the Ark of the Covenant rested within the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s Temple, into which chamber only the High Priest ventured once a year, on the Day of Atonement. But today it is far from being inviolate. Several weeks ago, when revelations of the current work first came to light in the Hebrew press, the news was accompanied by photographs of scaffolding, tools and debris resting on the sacred Foundation Stone itself.
A group of concerned Israelis filed a complaint with the Israel Police commissioner. The police responded by admitting that they were aware the Waqf had begun work at the Dome of the Rock more than six years ago, adding that the actions “were being performed with the approval of the Israel Antiquities Authority and under its supervision.”
Unfortunately, this response merely demonstrates the nebulous, tempestuous relationship of the Israel Police to affairs on the Temple Mount — as well as their ambivalence. It has come to light that the IAA completely denies either approving or supervising these works on the Mount.
n the 1967 Six-Day War, Jerusalem again became a united city, and its sovereignty over the Old City returned to Israel. During the war — on June 7, 1967 to be precise — then-Prime Minister Levi Eshkol declared “no harm whatsoever shall come to the places sacred to all religions.” The Knesset passed the Preservation of the Holy Places Law, protecting the Holy Places against desecration and guaranteeing freedom of access to all.
In return for obeying the law, Israel agreed to leave the administration of the site in the hands of the Waqf. Since then, every Israeli president and prime minister in succession has pledged the government’s total commitment to Israel’s holiest site, the Temple Mount, site of the First and Second Holy Temple — and the location of the future Holy Temple, according to every prophet of Israel.
As mind boggling and ludicrous as it seems, in recent years the Wakf has denied any non-Muslim connection to the site. The Waqf’s agenda is the final status of Jerusalem; to advance this cause, all physical evidence of the historical Jewish connection to the Temple Mount is a liability.
So in addition to the Wakf’s policy — facilitated by the Israel Police against the position of the Israeli Supreme Court — of preventing all non-Muslims from praying or expressing any religious sentiment at the site, the Wakf “caretakers” also exercise a free and heavy hand in the deliberate destruction of antiquities. While archeologists are prevented from investigating the site, work also is carried out without permit and any archeological supervision. It is one thing to prevent exploration; bulldozing ancient structures and using heavy machinery without any supervision is another thing.
The Temple Mount is har habayit, “the Mountain of the House.” It’s the house — the home — not just another issue. It is our center; it’s future represents the hope of all humanity. And it is a reflection of the honor of the God of Israel in this world. But a house built on a weak foundation will not stand.
We mourn over the site’s past; we yearn for its glorious future. But it is high time that we honor the vision of the Holy Temple by safeguarding the beleaguered Mount and by stemming the tide of its present destruction.
The words of our Sages are so relevant in this context:
דור שלא נבנה בית המקדש בימיו- מעלין עליו כאילו החריבו”
“A generation in which the Temple is not rebuilt in its time is considered a generation which caused its destruction.”
May we instead be merited with the following words:
כל המתאבל על ירושלים זוכה ורואה בשמחתה
“Those who mourn Jerusalem will merit to see her in her joy”.
May Hashem grant us to witness the rebuilding of Jerusalem speedily in our days, Amen.