It was reported that Moshe Feiglin, the Likud politician, often described by the press as controversial and extreme, has been arrested by the police on Temple Mount for disorderly conduct. It’s hard to imagine that such type of a charge, usually reserved for drunken college students, could be applied to a Feiglin’s action. He is far from being a disorderly person and looks more like a school principal.
And that’s true – the charge is unimaginable, because he was arrested for praying. Not for throwing things or offending people… It is difficult to understand how a man could be arrested for praying in the capital of his own country, but that gets clear (but not much more comprehensible) when you delve deeper into the regulations enforced at the holiest of all Jewish places.
Jews are not allowed to pray in the area where once the Second Temple stood.
The article describes what happened at the time of his arrest:
According to police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby, Feiglin, who is No. 23 on the joint Likud Beytenu list, prostrated himself in the plaza and tried to pray out loud. Praying aloud, going through ritual motions or using any type of traditional prayer objects such as tefillin, tallitot or prayer books, are forbidden for Jews at Judaism’s holiest site due to tensions with Muslim worshipers at the Aksa Mosque.
Feiglin wrote on his Facebook page that he goes to the Temple Mount on the 19th of every Jewish month and that he bothered no one other than the undercover policeman who followed him and had him arrested.
The author is correct that this was not the first brush with the law that Feiglin had while visiting Temple Mount. When we met him in Tel Aviv last November, he said that when he was walking there the previous month he was followed by the police, who stared intently into his face, ready to arrest him if he started to move his lips (assuming he was praying).
This time he was arrested along with other people:
Police arrested a total of five people in the incident: Feiglin and another Jewish worshiper, as well as three Muslim worshipers, who surrounded Feiglin’s group and started yelling “Allahu Akbar” (God is great). One of the Arabs was carrying a concealed knife, which is illegal on the Temple Mount.
In the October incident, Feiglin refused to sign the police restraining order prohibiting him from visiting the Temple Mount and was brought for a hearing at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court. The judge released him without any conditions.
Now the police may claim that they protected him, because the Arabs carrying knives are very much willing to use them, especially when you consider the fact that most people in Israel know very well who Feiglin is.
The whole incident looks bizarre and surreal and an outsider would have a hard time figuring out why the police would take such excessive measures against a praying man. That’s because the Israeli laws that rule the Second Temple area are bizarre and surreal.
After the Jewish uprising the Romans destroyed the Temple and expelled most of the Jews from their country. Although after that Jews always had a presence in Jerusalem, they usually were at the mercy of different empires and rulers (both Muslim and Christian).
The changing authorities had one thing in common – they equally disrespected the Jewish holy site. Building churches, which were consequently demolished or turned into mosques, was a process, which continued for nearly 2,000 years. At many points in history Jews were not allowed any access at all to the Temple Mount.
In 1948, after the Arab aggression, the Jews lost again that part of Jerusalem. The Jordanians were especially harsh in their treatment of the Jewish heritage – many synagogues were purposely desecrated or demolished; the Jewish graves in the area destroyed.
In 1967, after another Arab attack with the purpose to destroy the Jewish state, Israel finally managed to unite Jerusalem. The Jews regained full control over their Temple for the first time since Roman times.
And here comes the bizarre part. The initial joy of the return was dashed by a strange decision – very soon after the victory celebration Moshe Dayan handed the control over Temple Mount to the Muslim authorities of Jerusalem. And that’s after witnessing all the destruction that the Muslims caused! I am not sure how the socialist brains of Gen. Dayan and Prime Minister Eshkol worked to come up with that solution, but I can guess that the desire to show that we all are brothers and sisters, who have only “minor” cultural differences, played a major role.
To understand the absurdity of the situation, let’s imagine that Rome is conquered by the Muslims (the way things are working now in Europe, that’s not that far-fetched). Then the Italians unite and kick them out – however, they let the Muslims rule over the St. Peter’s Cathedral, which they have converted into a mosque. That’s beyond inconceivable. Yet that’s exactly what the Israeli government did for the tormentors of its own people.
The prohibition of prayer is not that different from what happened in Constantinople. After it was taken by the Turkish hordes in 1453 and most of its inhabitants slaughtered, the Turks desecrated the magnificent Orthodox Cathedral St. Sophia, turning it into a mosque. Now, if a Christian tries to pray there, he or she will be arrested (in earlier times even killed).
So we have a very similar situation, but in Constantinople the invaders took full control and exterminated the Christian population. In Jerusalem the Jews are the majority; it is the capital of Israel and it is ruled by the Israeli Government. Yet that government prevents its own citizens from praying at their holiest site, limiting their access only to the Kotel. It’s hard to imagine anything more bizarre…
Obviously, this is the situation, which Moshe Feiglin wants to change. What he does is not a whim or eccentricity – it’s a way to bring attention to an injustice.
After he was brought to the police, he explained very well what he wanted:
“When I was questioned, I said I would provide any information requested, but I would not cooperate in any way with the police’s unfortunate policy of harming the liberties of those questioned unnecessarily,” Feiglin wrote. “This was a big victory in the battle for human rights in Israel. It did not surprise me that our right to the Temple Mount led to the good news about the liberties of Israeli citizens.”
Indeed, Jerusalem has been a Jewish city for thousands of years. It is ridiculous that its Jewish citizens can’t get the same rights over their holy site. The claim Muslims have over Temple Mount is based on the delirious ramblings of their “prophet”. He imagined that he travelled there in his dream. Normally, a delusion is not a sufficient reason to claim somebody else’s property, but in Islam’s case everything is conquered and stolen with brute force, as it happened with most of the churches in Constantinople.
Apparently, Islam has the same right to be present in Jerusalem as any other kooky cult, which had been attracted to the mystique of the old city. The “Jerusalem syndrome”, which makes many people think that they are prophets or saviours has already been recognized as a legitimate mental condition.
The delirium of Muhammad is not very different from that. He has as much credibility as Canada’s own contribution to the world of cults – Rael. Claude Vorilhon, the founder of the Raelian Movement was allegedly abducted by aliens, who appointed him to be their messenger; they even let him meet Muhammad. Rael, who also sees himself as a prophet sent to prepare the world for the advent of the “Elohim”, has pestered the Israeli government for years to build an “embassy” in Jerusalem to accept them.
The Raelians have exactly the same justification to be in Jerusalem as the Muslim do, i.e. none. But at least the followers of Rael don’t want to take over the Second Temple. Then why should Muslims keep it?
They are free to do whatever they want (as long as they don’t harass or kill anybody), but taking over the local temple is way over the top. Maybe it’s time to go. The mosques that now occupy the Temple Mount can be moved to a more suitable place, where they are not going to desecrate the Temple anymore. They could be rebuilt elsewhere after providing a proper compensation (although the Arabs never provided Jews with any compensation after destroying their graves and holy places).
Taking back the site in a decisive way is something that should be considered seriously. The problem of the Arabs is that they will always whine and grumble against anything that Israel does, whether it’s good or bad.
Isn’t it time for the Israeli government to take a full control of its own capital and provide the Jews with the right to worship like everyone else in it?
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