Water Apartheid

We take it for granted that if someone is thirsty, we must give them water. It’s part of the Jewish tradition:

…The famous Jewish sage Hillel said:

“Don’t do unto others what you would not want do to you – that is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary” (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbos 31a).

It is not enough to only cite inspiring aphorisms. For instance, Christianity prides itself on the idea of “loving thy enemies” (Matthew 5:43-44). Judaism goes further, however, because it not only provides the aphorism but gives us examples how to love our enemies:

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. (Proverbs 25:21)

The Torah does not merely cite an aphorism, but provides a case study how to live up to it.

We tend to think these are universal ethics, but sadly not all ideologies adopt these principles, as evidenced in the following report:

Jewish men were once again mobbed and attacked on the Temple Mount – this time, by Arab women loitering at Judaism’s holy site who pounced on them for daring to drink from the water fountain.  

Footage shows the Mourabitoun, Muslim women who serve as guards over the Mount by harassing and occasionally assaulting Jews who visit, surrounding the two visitors, shouting “Allahu Akhbar.” 

Gilad Hadari, the Temple Mount activist who was present, said he was attacked by one of the activists and filed a complaint with the police about it.

He noted that in recent months the situation has worsened on the Temple Mount.

“The situation is deteriorating every day. There is no law and no judge on the Temple Mount and they are allowed by police to yell, threaten, attack police and break privacy.” 

Hadari called on Internal Security Minister Glad Erdan (Likud) to act immediately to stop the attacks. 

Attorney Itamar Ben Gvir, who is representing Hadari, said that his client intends to initiate proceedings both against lawbreakers and against the police – and that the video reveals “incredible incompetence.”

Arutz Sheva  revealed last week that Jews have been banned from drinking water on the Temple Mount, whether from bottles or from the public water fountain – despite the fact that Muslims not only host elaborate meals there, but even hold soccer matches at the holy site. 


Gil Ronen writes:

Other than breathing, it appears all Jewish rights on Temple Mount have been taken away, and Rabbi Chaim Richman, International Director of the Temple Institute, is exasperated.

Jews who belong to the growing stream of Temple Mount adherents are used to being mistreated by the police and harassed by Muslims there, but Sunday’s instruction by a policeman to a Jewish visitor has surprised even the seasoned pilgrims.

The policeman – whom Temple activists identified as a Druze – told the Jewish man that he may not drink water.

“Naturally, it is a hot day today, I went to get a drink,”

the man, Elishama Sandman, told Ynet.

“When I came close to the faucets, the policeman stopped me and told me that I do not have permission to drink.” Sandman asked him if this was a new instruction and the policeman answered in the affirmative.

“Saying to people who are already cooking in the sun for two or three hours that they can’t drink water is saying one of two things,” Richman said. “Either that they should die in the heat, or that they can’t go up to the Temple Mount.”

Temple Mount activists have contacted Knesset members who have promised to fight for their rights to hydrate, but the latest humiliation has driven home to the activists that in Binyamin Netanyahu’s fourth term as prime minister, too, they are facing a hostile government, and that barring a miracle, no relief is in the offing.

Rabbi Richman has no doubt that the single element behind the policy against Jewish visits to the Temple Mount is Netanyahu, who believes that insistence on Jewish ascent to the mount could create a large scale conflagration in the Middle East at a time in which Israel does not seek one. Netanyahu, he explained, gets his marching orders regarding the Temple Mount from Jordan‘s King Abdulllah 2.

“Why degrade ourselves to this extent, even if this is something he is doing for national security?” 

asks Richman rhetorically.

“After all, what he is giving up shows the Arab world we are willing to foreclose on the very secret of Jewish identity – the Temple Mount. What message does this send our neighbors? This is a picture of anarchy.”

It’s hard to comprehend why this is allowed to happen anywhere, let alone at Judaism’s holiest place. However, there are strong precedents, grounded in Islamic law, for the prohibition against Jews drinking water used by Muslims:

With the Islamic conquest of Persia, the government assigned Jews, along with Christians and Zoroastrians, to the status of dhimmis, non-Muslim subjects of the Islamic empire.

During the reign of the Safavids (1502–1794), they proclaimed Shi’a Islam the state religion. This led to deterioration in their treatment of Persian Jews. Safavids Shi’ism assigns importance to the issues of ritual purity. Non-Muslims, including Jews, are deemed to be ritually unclean ― najis. Any physical contact would require Shi’as to undertake ritual purification before doing regular prayers. Thus, Persian rulers, and the general populace, sought to limit physical contact between Muslims and Jews. Jews were excluded from public baths used by Muslims. They were forbidden to go outside during rain or snow, as an “impurity” could be washed from them upon a Muslim.

The reign of Shah Abbas I (1588–1629) was initially benign…Toward the end of his rule, treatment of Jews became more harsh. Shi’a clergy (including a Jewish convert) persuaded the shah to require Jews to wear a distinctive badge on clothing and headgear. In 1656, the shah ordered the expulsion from Isfahan of all Jews because of the common belief of their “impurity”. They were forced to convert to Islam.

In the middle of the 19th century, J. J. Benjamin wrote about the life of Persian Jews, describing conditions and beliefs that went back to the 16th century:

They are obliged to live in a separate part of town…; for they are considered as unclean creatures… Under the pretext of their being unclean, they are treated with the greatest severity and should they enter a street, inhabited by Mussulmans, they are pelted by the boys and mobs with stones and dirt… For the same reason, they are prohibited to go out when it rains; for it is said the rain would wash dirt off them, which would sully the feet of the Mussulmans… If a Jew is recognized as such in the streets, he is subjected to the greatest insults. The passers-by spit in his face, and sometimes beat him… unmercifully… If a Jew enters a shop for anything, he is forbidden to inspect the goods… Should his hand incautiously touch the goods, he must take them at any price the seller chooses to ask for them… Sometimes the Persians intrude into the dwellings of the Jews and take possession of whatever please them. Should the owner make the least opposition in defense of his property, he incurs the danger of atoning for it with his life… If… a Jew shows himself in the street during the three days of the Katel (Muharram)…, he is sure to be murdered.

In 1894 a representative of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, a Jewish humanitarian and educational

Symbol of Alliance Israelite Universelle, synagogue of Mikveh Yisrael

organization, wrote from Tehran:

“…every time that a priest wishes to emerge from obscurity and win a reputation for piety, he preaches war against the Jews”.

In 1910, Muslims rumored that the Jews of Shiraz had ritually murdered a Muslim girl. Muslims plundered the whole Jewish quarter. The first to start looting were soldiers sent by the local governor to defend the Jews against the enraged mob. Twelve Jews who tried to defend their property were killed, and many others were injured. Representatives of the Alliance Israélite Universelle recorded numerous instances of persecution and debasement of Persian Jews. In the late 19th – early 20th century, thousands of Persian Jews emigrated to the territory of present-day Israel within the Ottoman Empire to escape such persecution.

Driven by these persecutions, thousands of Persian Jews emigrated to Palestine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Mind you, it’s not only Jews who are subject to this abominable water apartheid: Christians in Pakistan face a similar prohibition:

The husband of Asia Bibi and his youngest daughter have traveled to Europe from Pakistan seeking help…

She was arrested for drinking water from a well reserved for Muslims and accused of blasphemy. That charge carries the death sentence in Pakistan. The blasphemy law has become an instrument to settle personal vendettas against Christians.

The judicial process has dragged on and it remains unclear whether or not she will be executed. But time passes and Asia Bibi, spends her days in a dark, tiny cell.

JOSEPH NADEEM, Lawyer of Asia Bibi

“We are expecting Europe and the international community to pressure the Pakistani government. There is an opportunity to free Asia Bibi because now the case is in the Supreme Court. This is the last chance to save Asia Bibi’s life. The second last chance is the presidential pardon.”

Ashiq and his daughter personally met with the Pope in Rome. They believe that he can provide decisive help in freeing Asia Bibi and that he should be able to give the Christian minority in Pakistan the help that it needs.

ASHIQ MASI, Husband of Asia Bibi

“The Pope is the leader of all of us Christians. We are here to ask for his intervention and his prayers. His voice is also heard in Pakistan and he is very well respected.”

The visit to Rome was especially poignant for Eisham, one of Asia Bibi’s daughters. She could not contain herself as her words were being translated. She was only 9-years-old when she saw her mother brutally beaten and taken away.

Daughter of
Asia Bibi

“She told me to go call my father but when I returned they had already taken her. Now, after all this, I ask you to pray for my mother, for my family, for her freedom and the freedom of all Christians.”

While what is happening is horrendous, even more disturbing is that the international community largely ignores these outrages. Jews are suffering religious apartheid at the holiest site for Jews, the Temple Mount. The world bodies are quick to (falsely) accuse Israel of apartheid, yet when real apartheid is practiced by Muslims, they remain silent.

 Surely it’s time for the Israeli government to take back control of the Temple Mount.


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