Israeli capitulation on the Temple Mount
Opinion: We are told that Jews cannot visit this holy site during the final days of Ramadan due to the large number of Muslim worshippers and the danger of violence; but can you imagine France closing the Eiffel Tower to French Christians or Britain banning Church of England followers from the Tower of London?
In the late 1980s, this coincidence caused the Temple Mount to be closed to Jews, but at the time the number of visitors to the Mount was negligible and no one really cared.
In 2019, however, the number of visitors is significantly higher, but in two weeks' time, when we mark 52 years of unification, the Temple Mount may again be closed to Jews, because at this site, as always, the Muslim calendar takes clear precedence over the Jewish one.
Unlike the Cave of the Patriarchs in the West Bank, the policy on the Temple Mount does not have a mirror image and the site is never closed to Muslims on Jewish holidays. In fact, it is never closed to Muslims, except for in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack or attempted attack on the Mount, something that happens once every few months.
Again, this is definitely not the case with the Jewish public. A few years ago, Israel Police began to close the Temple Mount to the entrance of Jews on a regular basis, due to violence and threats from the Muslim side.
Yes, threats of violence can change even the "status quo," which in any event does not really exist on the Temple Mount anyway. As with everything else connected to this issue, it is more than likely that countries and other sources are pressing Israel to keep surrendering to violence, namely, the Kingdom of Jordan, Turkey, the Palestinian Authority and more.
Moreover, throughout the month of Ramadan, the Israeli police suspend the sole hour at which Jews can visit the Mount (1.30-2.30pm).
During the hearing for a petition filed by Prof. Hillel Weiss against canceling visiting hours for Jews, which was discussed last week by the High Court of Justice, the police claimed that the reason for the cancellation was the large presence of Muslim worshipers at around 12.30pm. Of course, the police got the times of the Jewish visits wrong, and this error more than anything else illustrates a policy of obfuscation and excuses of "public peace and security" that lead to the closure of the Temple Mount to a non-violent public time and again.
Unless the Israeli government changes its policy, the police will continue to close the compound to Jews at the end of Ramadan, despite Jerusalem Day.
"Every year the Temple Mount is closed for visits during the final days of Ramadan, for reasons of public safety and security, and public order," the Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Ha-Levy said last week following a request from the Students for the Temple Mount organization.
In the course of the High Court hearings, and following intervention by the Ministry of Public Security, the police changed its response and said that the Temple Mount would indeed be open to Jewish visitors on Jerusalem Day, pending a security assessment on the day itself.
Obviously, this is a smoke screen designed to thwart court intervention. Of course, in other cases, the High Court has found more reason to intervene in such matters.
The mere thought of closing the Temple Mount on the day of Jerusalem's liberation makes my stomach turn. What was the point of liberating the Old City and uniting the capital if the local police cannot cope with potential disturbances without closing parts of the city to Jews? A sovereign capital city does not close its gates to some of its inhabitants, let alone when they constitute the majority in the country.
Many times, we in our region mockingly describe France and England as countries that have succumbed to radical Islam. But can you honestly imagine the French government closing the Eiffel Tower to French Christians on Bastille Day for fear of Muslim violence? Or Britain blocking access to the Tower of London for a similar reason?
Here in Israel, the fear that the Temple Mount will be closed to us is real and tangible, and does not receive proper attention by the media, elected officials or decision-makers.
This silence encompasses the danger of national humiliation on the anniversary of the day our holy city was liberated.