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Thursday, May 02, 2013 

Where is the Temple Mount in the public conscience?

Nadav Shragai brings up something very overlooked and practically ignored today: the Temple Mount, which in contrast to the Western Wall, does not rate very high in the public facination, if at all:
...the truth is that we really have lost ourselves. We have forgotten that the Western Wall, for all its parts, is merely a vestibule, an atrium to the Temple Mount. We have forgotten that the status enjoyed by the Western Wall is simply derivative of what stood above it, the real thing: The Temple. We have also forgotten that had there not been a Halachic ban for many years on climbing to the Mount, which is still claimed by many, the Western Wall would not be the main attraction, but rather the Mount itself.

The fact that today the vast majority of Jews pray at the Western Wall and not on the Temple Mount is a result of circumstances and not a choice. There are good, and not so good, Halachic reasons for this, and there are also diplomatic reasons, and common interests that tie the two types of reasons together. But the main culprits behind the absence of Jews from the Temple Mount are the Jews themselves. As sad as it is, the majority of the public is detached and disconnected from the Mount, feels no need to visit it, and as they say: out of sight, out of mind. The people of Israel have grown accustomed to the substitute, the Western Wall.

It is true that it isn't always easy to visit the Temple Mount. The Muslim Waqf generally does everything in its power to perpetuate its sole ownership over the territory -- starting with disrespecting Jewish artifacts and through misrepresenting and rewriting Jewish history. Recently, it has even come to physically assaulting Jews who visit the Mount. It is also true that the police are also making the lives of the handful of Jews who are still faithful to the Mount miserable, and severely limiting the visitation possibilities. It is truly no great pleasure to walk around the Temple Mount with a Jewish police officer to your right and a Waqf official to your left, while every word you say, even while talking on your mobile phone, is monitored to make sure you don't mumble a forbidden prayer.

But still, we are the main offenders behind the Western Wall having become the center of our attention and the Temple Mount having all but disappeared from our collective awareness. The ban on Jewish prayer on Temple Mount will not be overturned any time soon, apparently. The police and the Israel Security Agency are currently dictating the government's position on the matter. There is no point in banging our heads against the wall and clashing over this issue again and again.
Or maybe there is, by ways of a public relations campaign, and he does bring up something like that:
The key to changing this phenomenon lies in motivating large portions of the public to visit, tour and study the Temple Mount. That way, the Temple Mount could become a popular site like the nearby City of David. The police won't like it -- after all, the police prefer as few Jews there as possible. That way things are quiet and calm. But the status quo that then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan installed in 1967 -- leaving the Temple Mount under the sole jurisdiction of the Waqf -- which the police adheres to with such zeal, still permits Jews to visit the Mount. If people begin to show interest in visiting the Temple Mount, and instead of dozens of Jews per day and hundreds per month, perhaps hundreds will begin visiting each day and thousands each month, I dare say that the High Court of Justice will step in, despite the police's resistance, and help the Jewish public take advantage of that right.
He very well may be right. In any case, a PR campaign and even an educational program is needed to inform more people about the Temple Mount's importance and significance, and why that too is a very important part of Judaism from a historical perspective.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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