Av 12, 5769, 02 August 09 04:10
Two Jews were detained by police and held for hours on Sunday morning for the simple act of kneeling while on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The two, Yosef Ben-Avraham of Shilo and Yekutiel ben-Yaakov of Kfar Tapuach, were on the Mount as part of the Holy Temple Festival held in Samaria beginning on Saturday night.
While Jews are allowed to visit certain areas of the Temple Mount under strict police supervision, they are not allowed to pray or to make any visible gestures expressing their Jewish belief, for fear of inciting Muslim riots. Yekutiel Ben-Yaakov spoke to Israel National News following his release from custody and explained that it was the feeling of humiliation caused by this rule that ultimately led to his decision to defy regulations.
After waiting for an hour to enter the Temple Mount, the group was finally allowed in, only to see Muslim and Christian tourists wandering freely while they were restricted and closely watched, Ben-Yaakov recalled. The discrimination against Jews was "the type of thing that we would call blatant anti-Semitism if it took place in a foreign country... I felt like a worm," he said.
The feeling of humiliation led to a spontaneous decision to "do some basic, simple act that shows my support for the holy place," he continued. He kneeled quickly, and kissed the ground.
Detained for kneeling
Police immediately removed him, and fellow worshipper Ben-Avraham. The two were taken from the Temple Mount to a nearby police station without being given a moment to put on their shoes, which they had left at the entrance.
Ben-Yaakov said he does not blame police for what happened. "They are forced to implement a horrible galut [exile] mentality... The problem is with the government, that is geographically out of the exile, but mentally is deeply rooted in the exile," he stated.
Ben-Yaakov was banned from the Temple Mount for 15 days, a decision he plans to appeal on principle. His visit Sunday was his first in 20 years.
He called on other Jews to visit the Temple Mount as well, despite the segregation they may face. "Visit the Mount, visit our holiest site... We've returned to the land, let's return to the Mount," he said.
While he refrained from suggesting that all Jews should disobey regulations on the Temple Mount, Ben-Yaakov did call on activists to demonstrate faith, as they ask Israel's leaders to do. "We say to Bibi [Netanyahu] 'Have faith in God, don't give in to American dictates.' What are we willing to do on a personal level?"
Jews Turned Away on Tisha B'Av
On Thursday of last week, Jews marked Tisha B'Av, the annual day of mourning over the destruction of the Temple. Many hoped to visit the Temple Mount on the occasion.
However, even those who arrived at 7:30 a.m. and waited for up to four hours were told that there was no time for them to go onto the Mount. The would-be visitors were turned away, disappointed.