The fraud that is the Temple Mount movement

Following the murder attempt on Yehuda Glick, the claim is being made – and getting a more sympathetic hearing than usual – that he and his colleagues have been leading a civil rights movement for Jews. Don’t believe it.

Palestinian Muslim worshipers pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s old city on the first day of Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) marking the end of the hajj and commemorating Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail on God’s command, on October 4, 2014. (Activestills.org)
Palestinian Muslim worshipers pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s old city on the first day of Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) marking the end of the hajj and commemorating Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail on God’s command, on October 4, 2014. (Activestills.org)

Ten years ago I interviewed Likud Knesset member Moshe Feiglin in his office in the West Bank settlement Karnei Shomron. On his wall was a framed aerial photograph of the Temple Mount – but the Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock didn’t appear. In their place stood an illustrated, rebuilt Jewish Temple. I’ve heard that this photo and others like it are big sellers in Jerusalem.

Feiglin was at the Wednesday night conference in Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin Heritage Center where Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick was shot and critically wounded by a Palestinian. Also present was Yehuda Etzion, who was imprisoned in the early 1980s for leading a plot within the “Jewish Terror Underground” to blow up the Dome of the Rock. Feiglin wasn’t the only extreme anti-Arab Likud MK at the gathering; Miri Regev and others were there too. The conference was titled “Israel Returns to the Temple Mount.”

Following the murder attempt on Glick, the claim is being made – and getting a more sympathetic hearing than usual (here and here) – that he and his colleagues have been leading a “civil rights” movement for Jews, one whose aim is simply to gain for Jews the same right Muslims have to pray on the Temple Mount, which Muslims worship as the Noble Sanctuary (Haram al-Sharif in Arabic). I heard Housing Minister Uri Ariel fuming on the radio about the injustice of the Israeli-enforced status quo on the Mount (which allows Jews to visit with police permission, but bars them from praying so as not to incite Muslim fears of a Jewish takeover, and in line with rabbinical rulings). The radio interviewer was at a loss to challenge him; no doubt Ariel convinced many listeners that he and the other Temple Mount activists are a bunch of Martin Luther Kings.

Right-wing activist Yehuda Glick holding a book depicting the Jewish Temple while standing in front of the Dome of the Rock in the Aqsa Mosque compound/Temple Mount in Jerusalem, May 21, 2009. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Right-wing activist Yehuda Glick holding a book depicting the Jewish Temple while standing in front of the Dome of the Rock in the Aqsa Mosque compound/Temple Mount in Jerusalem, May 21, 2009. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

This is a great fraud. I’m sure there are some Jews who really only want to be allowed to pray on the Mount without having any intention of bothering the Muslims and their holy places, who genuinely want religious coexistence up there. But they are incidental to the movement. The Temple Mount movement is and always has been a movement not for religious equality, but for Jewish religious domination and contempt for Muslims and Islam. That’s what Feiglin’s about, that’s what Etzion is obviously all about, and anybody who thinks Miri Regev and Yariv Levin and these other nonstop Arab-bashers in the Knesset who want to let Jews pray freely on the Temple Mount are looking for peaceful coexistence, dream on.

The best known of the Temple Mount NGOs, the Temple Mount Faithful, headed by Gershon Salomon, makes no bones about its intentions. On its website, the first of the group’s “Long Term Objectives” is: 

Liberating the Temple Mount from Arab (Islamic) occupation. The Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque were placed on this Jewish or biblical holy site as a specific sign of Islamic conquest and domination. The Temple Mount can never be consecrated to the Name of G‑d without removing these pagan shrines. It has been suggested that they be removed, transferred to, and rebuilt at Mecca.

Glick appears to be a somewhat different story. Despite many media reports, he is not an activist in the Temple Mount Faithful, or at any rate not mainly in the Temple Mount Faithful; he heads an organization called the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, and formerly led the Temple Mount Institute. Both of these groups express the hope of rebuilding the Temple alongside the Muslim holy sites, not in their place. But here is a brief video Glick made for the Temple Institute in which he makes what sounds like a veiled threat of what will happen to the Dome of the Rock if Muslim religious leaders do not cooperate peacefully with this project:

The decision of what will happen to that building, which today represents the Muslim religion – if the Muslim religious leadership decides to choose a path of peace, that building can remain and be part of the house of prayer for all nations, and it can be used as a center of monotheistic religions. If, unfortunately, the Muslim leadership continues the path they are leading today – [Islamic Movement leader] Ra’ed Salah and other Muslim leaders today – it will bring to a very dangerous … [here Glick pauses, searching for words, then continues in a barely audible voice] to a great threat to the world and to the peace of the world.

I’m calling upon the leadership of the Muslim religion: join, cooperate with those who want peace. Join with those who believe that the Temple Mount belongs to all those who believe in God, and then the Dome of the Rock, built by Abdel Malek, will be part of the house of prayer of all nations, the holy temple.

Glick did not deserve to be shot. From all reports, he is not a man of violence at all; he could be described as the friendly face of the Temple Mount movement. But he works alongside men of the most violent possible intent. He is the window-dressing of a movement with a psychotic, apocalyptic goal, one that goes back to the Six Day War conquest of the Mount when IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren, later to become Israel’s chief rabbi, implored Moshe Dayan to destroy the Dome of the Rock.

Again, I’m sure there are Jews who honestly just want to be allowed to pray on the Mount, nothing more, and who see this as an issue of religious equality. I would ask them if they favor introducing the same sort of religious equality for Muslims at the Western Wall, which Muslims worship as the Buraq Wall, the site where Mohammed mounted his winged horse Buraq and ascended to heaven:

Should Muslims, accompanied by Muslim police, be allowed to conduct Muslim prayer in the Western Wall plaza?

With a police escort, right-wing Jews visit the Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City at the end of a ‘Jerusalem Day’ demonstration calling to rebuild the Jewish temple, May 21, 2009. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
With a police escort, right-wing Jews visit the Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City at the end of a ‘Jerusalem Day’ demonstration calling to rebuild the Jewish temple, May 21, 2009. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

For that matter, should the police of a Muslim country be allowed to station themselves in the Western Wall plaza as the enforcer of law and order? Should the police of a Muslim country be allowed to decide which Jews can come pray at the Western Wall and which cannot?

That would be the mirror image of the current, Israeli-enforced status quo for Muslims on the Noble Sanctuary, which Jews worship as the Temple Mount. That status quo is not a violation of Jews’ civil rights, but a violation of Muslims’ religious rights and Palestinians’ national rights. That status quo is bad enough as it is; Glick, Feiglin, Etzion, Ariel, Regev and the movement they represent would make it out-and-out catastrophic.

Related:
There are no good guys in Jerusalem
Why the status quo on the Temple Mount isn’t sustainable
Disturbing the ‘peace’ in Jerusalem’s holiest site
Judenrein or Judaized? A false choice for the Temple Mount