The people behind the decision not to permit the Birkat Moshe Yeshiva from Ma’ale Adumim to go up on the Temple Mount as they have done the morning before Yom Kippur as part of an annual tradition dating back years, if not decades, should hang their heads in shame. To prevent these students to experience the momentous occasion of ascending to the Temple Mount as they have done for years and many had anticipated the great feelings of holiness which would accompany such a visitation is bordering on criminal. The excuse given was even more of an embarrassment for the State of Israel than anything I can think of in recent history. To tell these students that they are not to be able to observe what for them is a ritual that accompanies their High Holiday traditions because the Muslims have been staging riots and the police are unsure if they could guarantee their safety is ludicrous. The Yeshiva had made all the proper arrangements, they had the official documents permitting their ascension to the Temple Mount and the police had plenty of warning and if they were unprepared, then they should have contacted their supervisors and either gotten additional police or IDF soldiers, whatever it would take for these youths to have the government’s promises kept. This was inexcusable.
The entire manner in which the government has treated the entire embarrassment where Jews are forbidden to enter the Temple Mount because old women might screech at them, that Jews must be rationed going onto the Temple Mount because there is no manner of security if they were permitted free access and that rioting Muslims can determine the access afforded Israeli citizens regardless of their religion from free access to the holiest ground in all of Israel is the culmination of timidity and an emasculated governance. The time is now to tear up any agreement which places a foreign entity in charge of the Temple Mount. Allowing Jordan to rule the Temple Mount is the same as if Saudi Arabia allowed Tehran to control the Ka’aba in Mecca or the United States to permit the British to control who has access and how many Americans can visit the Washington Mall and all the monuments therein. The Temple Mount is and should always be the holiest monument which must be open and freely accessed by Jews and all others wishing to witness the closeness and holy aura which permeates the grounds. Anything less in a free and democratic state is paramount to dictatorial powers being handed to a foreign sovereign making them the master of these holy grounds and just the latest in the stream of pathetic signs that Israel is so unrighteously worried and fretting over the opinions of those either friend or enemy which seek to commit us to an enslaved mentality unrighteously subservient to the whims and edicts from outside our borders. This embarrassment must be terminated and the agreement placing the Waqf as the rule and sovereign over grounds holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims is positively ludicrous.
What need be done is to make the Waqf responsible and with absolute authority over the Islamic holy places on the Temple Mount, the Christians can also have a committee, body, or whatever they decide as their absolute authority over the Christian places on the Temple Mount and the Rabbinate in charge of the Jewish holy places on the Temple Mount and the areas which are more than ten meters from any holy building are free areas subject to the same restrictions as any other public monument in the world and with final authority belonging to law enforcement or military or whatever force is necessary to guarantee open and free access to the Temple Mount for all people of all or even no faith to visit and marvel at the wonder that is the Temple Mount. Any further building, antiquity recovery, archeology, or other action, digging, erecting or modification outside of those performed within the current structures, this does not permit expanding the footprint or enlarging any building or enclosed areas to be subjected to whatever applicable codes and restriction the Israeli government or Jerusalem government may choose to enforce. Should Israel decide in a democratic manner to approve the building of the Third Temple and decide the site to be upon the Temple Mount, a site which would by name imply it was made for such a structure, then it should be built with whatever footprint is approved and constructed observing all building codes and in any manner which is considered appropriate under one overarching restriction that it not be placed within some predetermined distance which will be imposed upon all religious and other structures raised on the Temple Mount such as to preserve the accessibility, balance of open spaces versus structures and other determinations which would be considered appropriate and acceptable. Obviously, building a structure which is fifty stories tall would not be befitting the Temple Mount as the structures residing on the Temple Mount are religious monuments and not office buildings or sky scrapers.
As far as access to the Temple Mount and upkeep of entrances, all should be made available to all of the public with universal restrictions limiting all such as having hours of operation and when the Temple Mount is closed for the evening nobody should be permitted to enter the area and all entrances should have guards to enforce the hours of operations. When holy days for each of the religions requiring their use of their places on the Temple Mount should be given preferences within limitations where it does not interfere with the general public’s rights to visit the Temple Mount and if there are requirements for nighttime services or observances, such should be afforded as long as such requests are for special occasions and not simply requests made to attempt to compromise the access by the rest of the public. The three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, must treat each other with the same reverence they wish for the others to afford them. None should be able to raise their control over the Temple Mount such that it becomes dominant over the others and no hierarchy should be permitted. This is the exact opposite as currently exists. That needs to end and end immediately.
Order must be enforced at all times and there should be no tolerance of attempts to intimidate, harass, assault, deter or otherwise compromise the freedoms of others to visit, pray, marvel and even visit within the Holy Places with obvious restraints being in place as per the directives of each religion. For example, if the Islamic faith does not permit unbelievers from entering their Mosques on the Temple Mount, then that must be respected just as if the Christians refused to allow unbelievers rights to their Churches or the Jews restricting visitation to the Temple (once it might be built) to just the Priests except for a small public area, then any and all of such restrictions are to be included within the rules governing behavior on the Temple Mount. What cannot be permitted is for any religion to claim that the entirety of the grounds are holy unto them and to them and them alone are free access to be granted as that is totally unacceptable. These changes need to come about as quickly as possible and the current situation which has come to a head where something has to give is the perfect opportunity to alter the entirety of the balance of power regarding the Temple Mount. Make and preserve the Temple Mount a holy place where any and all may experience a holy visit or simply for tourists to take in the ambiance and holy feel of the Temple Mount. The preservation of this special place and the making it a place for all people to come and find their own holy experience or just a feeling of the historical significance of the Temple Mount, a center of religious experience for close to if not over three-thousand-years, should be the singular goal for the Israeli and for Jewish leadership over this first year after the Sabbath Year, the Shmita (Hebrew: שמיטה). Don’t you feel it is time for this to become the holy monument to all for the remainder of time? We know we think it should; and the sooner the better.
Beyond the Cusp