The Holy of Holies

The snippet below was written by Kochava Rozenbaum and published at Arutz Sheva.

In wake of Tuesday’s decision by police officials in charge of the Temple Mount to ban non-Muslims entrance to the holy site, some two hundred protesters stood Wednesday morning at the foot of the Mugrabi entrance seeking to reverse their exclusion.

The mass protest was prearranged following an announcement by Police Commander Avi Bitton that the Temple Mount will remain closed to Jews and tourists at least until after the end of Ramadan’s closing festival of “Eid” which is to be next Sunday, the 11th of August.


When my wife Laurie and I were in Israel about a year and a half ago we, needless to say, visited the Old City of Jerusalem.  It’s a pretty amazing place, as I am certain that everyone who participates here would readily agree, and as we were wandering about, soaking up the mood and feel of the ancient Jewish capital, I stopped by one of those little shops that sells a variety of religious paraphernalia and purchased a rather smallish shofar.

Having forgotten about the prohibition against non-Muslims bringing religious items up to the Temple Mount, Laurie and I got on line for the Mughrabi Bridge in order to access the site.  My shofar was then taken from me by Israeli authorities and we were told that when we came back down we could retrieve it, which is precisely what we did.

The administration of the Temple Mount is thus discriminatory against Jews and all non-Muslims.

Furthermore, if you were to go atop the Temple Mount and start davening you could very easily get arrested.  For reasons that I entirely fail to understand only Muslims are legally allowed to pray at the site.  In the Jewish religious tradition the area is prohibited to Jews because it represents the “Holy of Holies,” which I must suspect goes some way to explain how it is that Moshe Dayan handed over the administration of the Temple Mount to the Jordanian Waqf.


It is, however, one thing for the rabbinical leadership in Israel to recommend that Jews not ascend the top of the Mount and another thing entirely for Muslims to deny rights of prayer, and to limit Jewish access, to the Mount in collusion with Israeli authorities.

I have considerable respect for Moshe Dayan but – to be quite blunt – giving up control over Judaism’s holiest spot to the Arabs was among the stupidest moves that Israel has ever made.  The Temple Mount should be open to anyone with the sole exception of those who go up there to throw rocks at people and otherwise cause trouble.  If a Muslim wants to pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque, he or she should obviously be allowed to do so.  Just as obviously, if a Hindu wants to pray to Shiva atop the Mount, who is to say that this is wrong?

At this point the obvious question to ask, and answer, is how to solve the problem?  One obvious solution is for Israel to take administration of the Temple Mount back from the Waqf because they are administrating the site in a manner that is discriminatory against all non-Muslims.   The Temple Mount is in Jerusalem and Jerusalem is the ancient capital of the Jewish people and should, therefore, be fairly administrated by the Jewish State of Israel.  Because Jewish authorities have shown far greater tolerance and respect to other faiths than have Muslim authorities, control of the area should revert to Israel.

Would such a move cause considerable grievance among Muslims?  Yes, it would.  Would some resort to violence?  Undoubtedly.  But the Jewish people in the Middle East have been living under the threat of Muslim violence for fourteen centuries.  As long as contempt for Jews and other infidels remains embedded in the faith of Islam, it will remain so generation after generation and century upon century.

The way to deal with this never-ending threat of violence is not to bow to it like good dhimmis, but to defy it.

I would not go so far as to say that the Jews should rebuild the Temple on that site because I am not qualified to speak to the religious implications for Judaism in such a move; implications that would undoubtedly be profound and that might fundamentally alter the entire nature of the Jewish faith.  But, Muslim anger aside, there is no reason for Israel not to administrate the place that represents the single, holiest spot for practicing Jews throughout the world.

This will, sadly, not happen anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot advocate for it.

We should.


Michael Lumish is the editor of Israel Thrives.

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  1. Michael, I’ve always admired Moshe Dayan, and have never understood why he handed control of the Temple Mount to the Muslim Waqf. Under Islamic law, non-Muslims don’t have free access to places that Islam claims for itself, and it matters not whether the claim is based on fact. Muslims and their enablers have been attempting for years to deny any connection between Jews and Jerusalem, which is ludicrous, given the solid historical link. Sadly, many have adopted this historical revisonism.

    Surely Dayan would have realised this. It’s time Israel took back control, so the site would be open to all religions.

    • Hi Pam,

      I have to say, I very much appreciate your work here.

      It seems to me that it is time for a shift in diaspora Jewish thinking on the subject of the Arab-Israel conflict.

      For so long we hoped that if only Israel made the necessary concessions than the Arabs would leave us in peace, but this has proven not to be the case.

      What we need to do now – or so it seems to me – is encourage a more forceful and self-respecting response to Arab aggression against the Jews of the Middle East.

      As a diaspora Jew I cannot tell Israeli Jews how to respond to the violence and hatred against them, but we can make suggestions.

      My suggestion is that Israel stand up strongly.

      • Hi Michael, I feel the same about your writing and enjoy reading your comments.

        I agree that we need a new paradigm which does not involve appeasement, which has never resulted in peace, but just more aggession. I find it appalling that Israeli authorities do the bidding of their Muslim masters and confiscate religious items. It reminds me of when my friend, a Christian, went to Saudi Arabia as a nurse and was not allowed to bring a bible or crucifix into the country. This is blatant religious discrimnation; Israel has total religious freedom, and should insist this freedom extends to the Temple Mount.

        No free country should submit to sharia demands.

  2. Assaulted by a variety of possible retorts to the issues raised, I noticed on the right of the text the image of an Israeli stamp. Subject matter is strictly Jewish, it is a stamp, an official issue of the Jewish State, yet, Israel is printed in Ivrit, English and Arabic. I, then understood why Moshe Dayan a dedicated, utterly Zionist Jew, born and bred in the Jewish Land, thought best of affording fundamental privileges on the Jewish soil to non-Jews, privileges which could have been seen by some as objectionable even unjust or as profanities to Judaic principles etc.

    Yet, Dayan knew his Arabs better than most of us and, with that, he also knew his Judaism.The easiest way out would be to resort to Messianic justifications mixed with a pragmatism hard to contradict.

    In compulsory ethics , the Jewish victor must not assume also the “rights” of the oppressor. Such privileges are not impossible to succumb to by those unaware and therefore indifferent, to the said Messianic objective. Dayan and his (our) people have achieved in six days only part of millenarian dream, The rest shall come, no doubt, by clever, Providential inspired persuasion .
    The “others” shall get, eventually, the message…………………..

    Just in case anyone would deem me an unrealistic haloymes chaser, I also know and thank the same and One Hashem that our and Moshe Dayan’s Zahal is still there, even stronger than in the great general’s days, adding a more powerful (!) meaning, if necessary, to the notion of “persuasion”.

  3. This is purely political and I just don’t understand why Israel does not control access.
    When Umar went to the Holy mountain in 637AD he had a Jewish convert to Islam called Ka’b. When Ka’b took off his shoes claiming that this was Holy ground, Caliph Umar was furious and stated that Jerusalem was not holy to Islam.
    The intellectual grandfather of Wahhabism, ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328) declared that Jerusalem was not holy to Islam because neither Mohammed nor the four rightly-guided caliphs went there to pray. Ibn Taymiyya stated that to claim that Jerusalem is holy to Islam is to “Judaize” Islam. Hence there is no religious grounding for Muslims to declare Jerusalem is holy to Islam.

    I am sure that Jews will be banned from entering the cave of Machpelah soon because Abraham was the father of Islam. Wikipedia already calls this a Muslim site and of course the UN tried to delist it as a sacred site for Israel. Stop this nonsense.
    Neither Jerusalem nor the cave of the Machpelah are even remotely sacred to Islam.
    It is purely political about Islamic superiority.

  4. In their “pure”, fundamental way, Islamic religious cannons are non-negotiable. Apart from the contemplative nature of the religion, it has a necessary social infusion and manipulation function; this we casually call POLITICAL control.

    The Islamic character of the Israel Palestinian conflict carries the highest, most intransigent form of Islamism ( Hamas is but one such manifestation). They need to bring out their most powerful armory both in order to maintain the fighting spirit of their troops and, implicitly, cause as much grief to the enemy as possible.

    This cohesive element is also responsible, by natural osmosis, for the perennial presence of the Palestinian cause in all fundamental international Islamist manifestations, well away geographically from Israel proper.

    The “funny” side of the phenomenon is that Christians within the intransigent Palestinian leadership have found within their own religion an element of solidarity – on this issue, for example – with the fundamental, intolerant Islam. That common ground is, just as casually, called antisemitism.
    It’s just like a Haydn quartet, perfect harmony ………………….