Weakness, Stupidity and Head-Chopping

In Arutz Sheva we read the following:

adelle johnIsrael on Wednesday dismantled a newly erected wooden access ramp to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount compound that would have increased access for non-Muslims but which angered Jordan, according to AFP.

The half-built structure was erected by Israel in the midst of the Gaza conflict in early August, triggering outrage from the Jordanian government, which oversees Muslim sites in Jerusalem.

It ran alongside a bigger wooden structure – the Rambam (Mughrabi) ramp – that leads from the Western Wall plaza up to the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City. The ramp is the only access to the Temple Mount for non-Muslims, including Jews – an arrangement which has angered many Jewish groups given the fact that the site is the holiest place in Judaism.

Apart from only being allowed one access point (compared to several for Muslims), Jews are also controversially forbidden from praying or conducting any forms of worship on the Temple Mount in an attempt to appease Muslim leaders who have regularly threatened violence if Jews are granted the freedom to worship there. Despite several court rulings stating such practices are illegal and discriminatory, Israeli police and Waqf authorities continue to enforce the prohibition on Jewish worship, with those who disobey facing arrest.

Jewish groups are also sometimes harassed by Islamists on the Mount, which today is the site of several Islamic mosques and shrines built atop the ruins of the Jewish Temples.

I find this kind of story rather demoralizing and have never really reconciled my admiration for Moshe Dayan with the fact that almost immediately upon taking the area in ’67 – “The Temple Mount is in our hands!” – Dayan forked it over to the Jordanian Waqf... whatever exactly a Waqf is.

I am simply not satisfied with my understanding of that decision.  Or, more precisely, I am simply not satisfied with that decision, period.

Nonetheless, Jewish-Israeli weakness in the face of Arab-Muslim hostility is almost never a good idea.  I am not particularly religious, but the Temple Mount has been at the center of Jewish history for over 3,500 years.  It is, in a sense, the birthplace of the Jewish people as the Jewish people.

Yet Israel allows the Hashemites to push it around on the holiest place to the Jewish people in the entire world.  It takes no greater a force than the Hashemites to push us off of Jewish holy land under what should be Israeli sovereignty.

It is both embarrassing and unnecessary.

In fact, maybe it is time to switch things around.  Ever since 1967 non-Muslims have faced a variety of restrictions in access to the Mount and what we are allowed to do there.  The last time that I was there, in January 2012, I forgot about some of these restrictions and had to temporarily relinquish a little shofar that I had purchased in one of the small shops in the Old City.

Perhaps Israel should institute similar restrictions for Muslims on the Temple Mount.  I do not think that this would be unfair, do you?  Israel can restrict access and can make it illegal for Muslims to pray on what is the holiest site for the Jewish people, just as Jews are not allowed to pray in Mecca.  Of course, Jews are not only not allowed to pray in Mecca, but we are not even allowed to poison Meccan dirt by trodding that dirt with our filthy Jewish feet.

Or, I tell you what, here’s a better idea:

Why not remove any and all religious distinctions in access to the site and make all regulations concerning behavior fair and equal to everyone?  

Now, there’s a novel thought!


Can you imagine Bahá’í praying on the Temple Mount?!  Oh, my goodness.  Rosicrucians and Mormons and Theosophists cheek-by-jowl with Rastafarians, Presbyterians, and Unitarian Universalists!


Why the heck not?

In any case, the current arrangement should be entirely unacceptable to any Jew who has anything resembling a spine.  And, of course, it is not just discriminatory toward Jews, but is discriminatory against all non-Muslims.  Period.

From the comments:

Hoshea Allen ·  Top Commenter · Bet Shemesh, Israel

Don’t you just love it when our illustrious government exercises sovereignty over our land?

I am a fan of concision.

Gila Rut Rina Wittow ·  Top Commenter · Works at Composer

This is an appalling decision. Would Saudi Arabia cave into pressure – if any existed! – to remove access to Muslims to their holiest places in Mecca? What a ridiculous suggestion! The Temple Mount is our very holiest site and we should have open access 24/7 through ALL the entrances to be able to pray there in peace (so long as Jews follow halacha in their preparations and where they walk there). It is the MOST IMPORTANT national treasure that we have – or should have. What business is it of Jordan? Noone is going to stop Muslims from continuing to pray there as well. 

Indeed.  I agree.  But I have to wonder what it is like going through life with a name like Gila. Rut. Rina. Wittow?

Look, I know that I am an ignorant and crude American but, really, Gila Rut Rina Wittow?

I do not mean to insult the woman, but that is really quite some name!

I am kind-of hoping that on some off-chance she will catch wind of this comment and berate me before the entire Elder of Ziyon-speaking world.

This bridge going to Har Habayis is for what purpose? So Jews ignorant of Jewish law can risk “careis” or spiritual excommunication by treading on holy ground they are not allowed to be on? Their are parts of the Temple mount forbidden to all Jews except the Kohein Gadol on Yom Kippur, and if they step there its lights out from heaven, so what is so bad?

For those who are religious these restrictions are not necessarily a problem.

Oh, and, “lights out from heaven”?

Well, that sounds rather unpleasant, doesn’t it?

Y’know, I almost never discuss religion in these pages, or almost anyplace outside of the bedroom.  But as a semi-former-progressive-leftist-counterculturalist-guy I respect religion at least, in part, because it was the Christian religion in the form of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) that firmly established the mid-late twentieth century Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

This is to say, one need not be religious to respect religion and religious people.

The problem, of course, is when people in the name of religion cross the bounds of normal human decency and start doing little things like – oh, I don’t know – chopping people’s heads off in the name of Allah?!

I may be rambling a bit – and G-d only knows that I need a stalwart editor – but this popular head chopping fad that we have been reading about is ghastly… horrific… mind-bogglingly revolting… there are no words and it leads one to wonder the extent to which this kind of thing has been going on all along….that is, if I may wonder aloud without insulting anyone’s religious faith, for chrissake.

Although I do respect people’s religious traditions, this particular practice, for some strange reason, crosses a line for me, particularly when it is practiced on children as we saw with the Fogel family attack.  Your mileage may vary, but I find myself in the nay-saying camp when it comes to chopping off people’s heads in the name of the deity.

This is ritualized murder in the name of G-d and it is as unacceptable as cannibalism and normative Islam or moderate Islam needs to stand up and say very clearly one word.


And speaking of decapitation, in The Middle East Quarterly, from awhile ago, Timothy Furnish writes:

The February 2002 decapitation of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, true to its intention, horrified the Western audience. Chechen rebels, egged on by Islamist benefactors, had adopted the practice four years earlier, but the absence of widely broadcast videos limited the psychological impact of hostage decapitation.

The Pearl murder and video catalyzed the resurgence of this historical Islamic practice. In Iraq, terrorists filmed the beheadings of Americans Nicholas Berg, Jack Hensley, and Eugene Armstrong. Other victims include Turks, an Egyptian, a Korean, Bulgarians, a British businessman, and a Nepalese. Scores of Iraqis, both Kurds and Arabs, have also fallen victim to Islamist terrorists’ knives.

The new fad in terrorist brutality has extended to Saudi Arabia where Islamist terrorists murdered American businessman Paul Johnson, whose head was later discovered in a freezer in an Al-Qaeda hideout. A variation upon this theme would be the practice of Islamists slitting the throats of those opponents they label infidels.

This is what happened to Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, first gunned down and then mutilated on an Amsterdam street, and to an Egyptian Coptic family in New Jersey after the father had angered Islamists with Internet chat room criticisms of Islam.

guillotine1At least the logic behind the guillotine was humanitarian, strangely enough to contemporary western sensibilities, but this Islamic head-chopping thing is no one’s idea of representing human decency.  Or am I wrong?  Do the head-choppers think that they are doing the head-choppees a spiritual favor of sorts?

My guess is, probably not so much.

In any case, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your indulgence today, because I am well and truly disgusted and horrified.  In fact, as soon as I drag myself away from this insidious laptop I will plunge head-first into the nearest washroom for purposes too unsightly to imagine on the written page.

Oh, and by the way, I very much recommend NOT keywording “decapitation” in Google images.

Please take my word on it.

First posted at the Elder of Ziyon blogspot

Michael Lumish is a blogger at Israel Thrives, as well as a regular contributor/blogger at Times of Israel, Jews Down Under and the Elder of Ziyon.

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One comment

  1. The Islamic concept of waqf dates back to the earliest years of Islam, and derives from the hadith of Muhammad, where he declared that land or its usufruct which was given to a masjid (mosque) was thereby dedicated to Allah, and such gift was irreversible.

    The concept extended over time to include any territory controlled by Muslims, in that such territory became the possession of Allah, in that its revenues were assumed to be devoted to the cause of Allah.

    Today this is taken, by some Muslims (the late and unregrettable Muammar al Ghaddafi of Libya being one) to mean that any territory at any time controlled by Muslims (ie, Dar al Islam) is Dar al Islam in perpetuity. So Spain and Portugal, for example, are inalienable land of Islam, and should, imshallah, revert to Muslim (ie, God’s) rule.

    It is difficult for us non-Muslims to understand that this is how some Muslims see the world, and that it is for them the fundamental belief on which they believe that they should act politically.

    We misunderstand this at our peril.

    Tony O’Brien