Iyar 27, 5770, 11 May 10 2010
by Hillel Fendel
As Jerusalem Day approaches, redoubled efforts are underway to increase Jewish awareness of the Temple Mount and to have the site included on the National Heritage Sites list.
Highlights of the campaign include a visit by 43 rabbis to Judaism's holiest site on Monday and a petition to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to include the location on his recently-formulated list of National Heritage sites.
The list was originally publicized this past February, including such sites as Independence Hall in Tel Aviv, the Aharonson Farm and Signaling Station in Atlit, the Jerusalem and Tzemach train stations, sites in Ashkelon and Gedera, Ein Gedi, the Mikveh Yisrael school, and over 100 more. In response to a query by IsraelNationalNews, the Prime Minister's Bureau was unable to provide the exact list, and the Cabinet Secretariat staff was on a tour.
No sites in Judea and Samaria were included on the list – until wide-scale protests and politicking by coalition whip MK Ze'ev Elkin and others led to the inclusion of the Machpelah Cave (Tomb of the Patriarchs) in Hevron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem. These are the only two sites on the National Heritage Sites list that are located in areas liberated by Israel during the Six Day War of 1967.
A petition to Netanyahu urging him to include the Temple Mount, site of both Holy Temples, has garnered nearly 3,100 signatures at .
"The Temple Mount is the holiest site in the world for the Jewish people," the petition states, "yet the Muslim authorities, aided by Israel Police, systematically deny the right of religious expression on the Mount to all non-Muslims. On numerous occasions the High Court of Justice has upheld the Jewish people's right to pray at the site, yet the police continue to prevent this. Furthermore, Jewish visitors are harassed and degraded… Israeli law is not recognized by the Wakf authorities; illegal digging has destroyed priceless historical remnants of Jerusalem's Jewish history. Please, end this travesty and… include the Temple Mount in your 'Heritage Plan'of sites significant to the Jewish people."
The Temple Institute in Jerusalem notes that though the Temple Mount is the holiest place in the world, "Jews and all non-Moslems are denied the right to pray in groups, and even as individuals; this refusal is accompanied by their constant degradation, and they are granted no opportunity for any religious expression whatsoever on the Temple Mount."
The Temple Institute further states: "Only Jews are forced to wait an extended period of time before being allowed through security. Only Jews are forced to present their ID's to the police. Only Jews are followed and harassed by Israeli police and Muslim Wakf guards throughout the entire visit on the Mount. Only Jews are arrested for crimes such as prayer, closing eyes, bowing down or singing."
The campaign now underway is seeking to publicize these facts at every opportunity and in every forum – especially in honor of Jerusalem Day, this Tuesday night and Wednesday. It marks the 43rd anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and the liberation of the Temple Mount, placing it under Jewish sovereignty for the first time (except for a three-year period during the period of Bar-Kokhba around 135 C.E.) in 1,900 years.