I was astonished to read that the US State Department has condemned Israel for restricting religious freedom for Jews on the Temple Mount. The cause of my astonishment is that barely 2 weeks ago, the same State Department was having the hardest time pronouncing that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
Of course one could say that the two opinions are not really related. One is a political stance and the other is religious. But since the Jewish nation, peoplehood, land and religion are all intertwined, the two conflicting opinions most definitely are related.
In any event, this is one time when I find myself in agreement with the State Department, at least on this one point of their report.
From the Yisrael Hayom link:
A U.S. State Department report published on Wednesday criticizes Israel for allowing only Muslims to pray on the Temple Mount in Jerualem.
The report, the “International Religious Freedom Report for 2011,” states that Israeli government policy is to grant freedom of religious expression to all, but despite an Israeli Supreme Court ruling, police continue to prevent many people from praying in the area due to what they say are “security considerations.”
“While the government ensured limited access to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif to everyone regardless of religious beliefs, only Muslims are allowed to pray at the site, although their access has been occasionally restricted due to security concerns,” the report says. “Police regulated traffic in and out of the compound and removed non-Muslim visitors if they appeared to be praying … Non-Muslim religious symbols are not allowed to be worn on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.”
The report also criticizes the fact that only Muslims are allowed to enter the Dome of the Rock and the area around the Al-Aqsa mosque. “Since 2000, the Jordanian Waqf that manages the site has restricted non-Muslims from entering the Dome of the Rock shrine and Al-Aqsa Mosque,” the report states.
You can read (or re-read) about how Israelis are prevented from praying on the Temple Mount in my post on Tisha Be’Av.
May we all merit to see the Temple rebuilt speedily in our days, with freedom of worship for all.
כי ביתי בית תפילה ייקרא לכל העמים
“For My House will be a called a House of Prayer for all nations”.