Tish'a B'Av (9th of Av) 5768: While thousands mourned and fasted below in the Western Wall Plaza, hundreds of observant Jews ascended the Temple Mount in strict accordance with halachah (Jewish law). They did so to perform the commandment of morat hamikdash - revering the site of the Holy Temple, and the commandment to be seen on G-d's holy mountain. They did so also to let the world know that the scriptural injunction to build the Holy Temple remains a moral and spiritual imperative for the Jewish nation, (as well as for all the world), despite 1938 years of mourning the Temple's destruction at the hands of the Romans in 70 CE. While mourning the loss of of the Second Temple, the ascenders also were witness to the ongoing destruction and degradation of the site of the Holy Temple by the enemies of the G-d of Israel who have occupied and usurped the Temple Mount.
Looking at the photographs one is taken by the very sparse presence of Moslem worshippers. Almost none can be found. A picture is often presented of a Temple Mount packed shoulder to shoulder with Moslem worshippers. With the exception of Friday afternoon prayer services, this is simply not the case.
The boys relaxing between soccer matches reveals a truer glimpse into the reality of the Moslem administrative control of the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount, location of the Al Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, described by Moslems as the "third holiest place in the world" includes within its environs a soccer field for the exclusive use of Moslem school boys. One can only imagine what sport is played in Mecca, Islam's holiest spot on earth. One can only imagine because non-Moslems are not allowed in the holy places of Mecca.
Is this what the conflict truly is about? Jewish right to pray versus the rights of Moslem boys to play soccer undisturbed by the sight and sound of Jewish prayer? Are these happy boys sitting on a wall and talking about whatever boys talk about the reason why the historical imperative to rebuild the Holy Temple, which stood on this very spot thousands of years before these boys first kicked a soccer ball, has been stopped dead in its tracks by the government of Israel in collusion with the Moslem world?
Perhaps we should petition the city of Jerusalem to build for these boys a modern, state-of-the-art soccer field elsewhere in Jerusalem and remove them from this flashpoint of conflict. Then, perhaps, Jews could be allowed to return unhindered, with all their implements of worship: prayer books, prayer shawls, tefillin, and shofars, etc. Hundreds of worshippers could congregate on the soccer pitch alone.
Then, perhaps, we can rebuild the Holy Temple.
Photographs provided by Lorelai Kude.