July 5, 2012 Thursday 15 Tammuz 5772
by Michael Freund
In recent weeks, there have been a string of incidents that should have sparked outrage across the Jewish world but instead were met with stony silence.
On a number of occasions, Jews seeking to exercise their basic human rights such as freedom of worship and assembly, and freedom of speech, have seen their liberties callously disregarded, and even trampled upon.
Those wishing to pray have been hushed and even threatened with arrest, while others have been asked to remove their yarmulkes while in public.
Needless to say, these detestable acts of anti-Semitism elicited neither a single press release nor even a peep of public protest from world Jewish leaders or organizations.
Had they occurred in Paris, London or New York, the guardian lions of civil rights would surely have made their roars heard. But since these affronts against Jews have all taken place on the Temple Mount, in the heart of Jerusalem, the raucous lions have instead turned into silent lambs, refusing even to bleat in disapproval.
Consider the following. According to a report in Maíariv (May 22), the Israeli police have issued new instructions which forbid Jews on the Temple Mount from rocking back and forth, moving their lips or even closing their eyes, as these all might be construed as acts of prayer.
Under pressure from the Muslim Wakf which administers the site, Israel's finest also warned Jewish visitors against removing a note of paper from oneís pocket and reading it, ostensibly out of fear that the offending page might contain Biblical verses or words of entreaty to Heaven.
Donít let the absurdity of these regulations detract from their seriousness: this is a shocking and extreme violation of every personís fundamental freedoms.
It is nothing less than a form of petty dictatorship which cannot be tolerated. Jews, like anyone else, have the right to commune with their Creator, sing, dance and yes, even move their lips. The fact that the police enforce such rules, and interfere with the right of Jews to pray freely, is scandalous.
Not surprisingly, the police haven't hesitated to go even further. On a couple of occasions, they have barred rabbis from setting foot on the Mount after they gave media interviews in which they discussed rebuilding the Temple.
TAKE, FOR example, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, the founder of the Temple Institute, who as a young soldier in 1967 was among those who took part in the liberation of the Mount from foreign control.
Israel's custodians of law and order apparently deem the 71-year old rabbi to be a threat, for when he attempted to ascend the Mount last month, the police informed him that he was banned from the site. Our fearless constables are reported to be investigating the rabbi for having recited a prayer on the Mount in memory of Israeli soldiers who died in the battle to reunite Jerusalem.
If this does not make your blood boil, it should. It makes no difference what your political or religious views are. Anyone who believes in freedom and democracy, and in the responsibility of government to protect and uphold our rights, should be raising their voices to protest this imperious behavior on the part of Israeli officialdom.
The root of the problem lies in the humiliating arrangements that exist on the Mount, where the extremist Muslim Wakf is allowed a large measure of control. In addition to doing their utmost to erase any trace of Israel's historical heritage at the site, the Wakf has also regularly harassed Jewish pilgrims who, despite all the restrictions, continue to visit the Mount.
Ten days ago, a young British Jewish student was reportedly accosted by Wakf officials, who demanded that he remove his yarmulke, which they said they found to be "offensive." Rather than get into an altercation, the student chose to leave, later telling reporters that, "I have experienced anti-Semitism in England, but I never thought that in Judaismís holiest site I would be subjugated to such discrimination."
He is right Ė and no one else should be subjected to it either.
WE MUST no longer remain mute about the infuriating disgrace that is Israeli policy toward the Temple Mount, where the Muslim Wakf effectively calls the shots and Jews are prevented from praying freely. All people of good faith, whether left or right, religious or secular, should speak out against this travesty and demand that it be corrected.
Jewish leaders and organizations who fail to do so are betraying their mandate and committing an act of perfidy against Jewish history and destiny.
Long ago, Israel should have asserted full control over the Temple Mount and stripped the Wakf of any power. Restrictions on Jewish prayer should be lifted immediately and the harassment of Jewish visitors must be brought to an end. The government and police hide behind excuses such as "maintaining public order" to justify the current situation. But letís drop the meaningless euphemisms and call this policy by its real name: this is anti-Semitism on the Temple Mount.
And the time has come for it to end.