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Danon visits Temple Mount

reprinted from Jerusalem Post

by Abe Selig

MK calls for ‘complete religious freedom' at holy site

Decrying the "severe restrictions" facing religious Jews who attempt to ascend the Temple Mount, MK Danny Danon (Likud) called Tuesday for "complete religious freedom" atop the incendiary holy site, before going up to the mount himself to mark Tisha Be'av.

Flanked by a large security apparatus provided by the Jerusalem Police, Danon ascended to the site to mark the day on which the destruction of the First and Second Temples occurred, and to voice his concerns about the current state of access to the Temple Mount for Jews who wish to visit it for religious reasons.

"Jews wearing kippot – religious Jews – who wish to go up to the Temple Mount can only do so in groups of 10 or 15 people at a time, while Muslim worshipers are allowed free and total access to the site by the thousands," Danon said.

"This current situation cannot be allowed to continue," he added. "This place does not belong to the Wakf [the Islamic trust that oversees the administration of Muslim sites on the Temple Mount] it belongs to the people of Israel."

After returning from his nearly hour-long tour of the site, Danon, who said the visit had been "very emotional," told reporters that in addition to his police escort atop the mount, his entourage had been followed by Wakf officials and photographers.

"They watched and recorded everything we did," Danon said.

In a conversation with The Jerusalem Post earlier on Tuesday, Danon had said that he saw "no more fitting day" than Tisha Be'av for a trip to the holy site.

"This is the day in which the Jewish people mourn the destruction of the two temples that once stood upon that site," Danon said. "And I can think of no better time than today to go there and commemorate this mourning."

Danon added that he planned on taking up the matter of religious freedom at the site with Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch in the coming days.

"I will meet with MK Aharonovitch in an effort to find different ways to approach the current situation," Danon said.

"In my opinion, my trip there today is an important step for advancing this issue, and I plan to continue to work on it."

Some two hours before Danon arrived at the site, three Jewish protesters were detained by police after they attempted to "cause a provocation" during a small rally that was held near the Mughrabi Gate entrance to the Temple Mount.

The protesters, many of whom were from a group called Free the Temple Mount had arrived at the site to both mark Tisha Be'av and call for "free and complete access for Jews to the Temple Mount."

Police reported no further disruptions at the Western Wall plaza or throughout the Old City on Tuesday, as thousands of people ignored the summer heat and arrived at the Kotel and its surroundings for prayers and quiet reflection.

In the afternoon, dozens of men could be seen sitting on the floor or on low stools next to the Western Wall, reading Kinnot, liturgical poems, composed in memory of the Temples' destruction.

MK Danon's visit to the site sparked somewhat of a flurry, and dozens of worshipers and passersby flocked to the crowd of reporters and photographers to see what the commotion was about.

But minutes after Danon and his entourage had left the area, the solemn tone of the day – on which observant Jews fast and refrain from outward signs of enjoyment – had returned to the Western Wall area.

"We're waiting for Moshiah [the Messiah]," an elderly, bearded man said, as he walked slowly across the plaza's bright, hot stones. "And the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash [Holy Temple], may it come speedily and within our days."

Likud lawmaker: Jews should be allowed freer access to Temple Mount

reprinted from Haaretz

Deputy parliament speaker says it is 'distorted' Israeli police makes it easier for Muslims to visit the holy compound than for Jews.

A senior lawmaker of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing party on Tuesday visited a flashpoint religious site in Jerusalem revered by Jews and Muslims, a move that has sparked violence in the past.

Under armed police escort, Danny Danon, a deputy parliament speaker, toured the site of an ancient Jewish temple, a plaza home to the al-Aqsa mosque, one of Islam's holiest sites, and said he thought Jews should be permitted freer access there.

A group of Muslim protesters shouted "Allahu Akhbar", or God is Greatest, as Danon, trailed by armed police and dozens of Israeli and Western tourists, strolled around the area known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

But despite the tense atmosphere there was no violence or confrontations during the lawmaker's hour-long visit.

Danon told reporters at the nearby Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, before climbing up to the Temple Mount, that his visit was to mark Tisha B'Av, a day of fasting marking the day the Roman-era Jewish temple was destroyed.

Past visits by senior Israeli officials to the site at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute have sparked violence, notably in 2000 when a visit by Ariel Sharon, then an opposition leader, set off a Palestinian uprising and years of bloodshed.

Disputes over the city have played a key role in hindering progress in U.S.-backed efforts to resume direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Palestinians are angry at Israeli plans published in the past few months to expand housing construction in East Jerusalem, and destroy dozens of Palestinian homes Israel says were built illegally.

"I don't see any provocation here," Danon, a Likud party lawmaker, replied when asked by reporters whether his tour of the holy site in the old walled city may ratchet up tensions. Danon said he wanted a firsthand look at security procedures and to press the case for permitting Jews to pray at the site.

"There is full religious freedom for Jews and Muslims on the Temple Mount," Danon said. "But it is more difficult for the Jew than the Muslim to go and pray on the Temple Mount. This is a distortion that must be corrected."

"If Jews want to go and pray on the Temple Mount then they should be allowed to do it," he added.

Israeli police often permit tourist visits to the holy compound but discourage Jews from worshipping there, diverting them to the nearby Western Wall to try and prevent violence.

No Jewish worship took place at the site during Danon's tour on Tuesday, and all were under strict orders to avoid entering al-Aqsa. Afterwards, a small group of Jewish settlers said some prayers outside the compound's gate, where they intoned a Hebrew psalm that calls for the holy temple to someday be rebuilt.

MK Danon on Temple Mount: Stop Anti-Jewish Discrimination

reprinted from Arutz 7
Av 9, 5770, 20 July, 2010

by Gil Ronen

MK Danny Danon (Likud) toured the Temple Mount Tuesday in a visit timed for Tisha B'Av, 1940 years after the sacking of the Second Jewish Temple. He bemoaned the ongoing discrimination against Jews' freedom of worship.

"It is unacceptable that Muslims can ascend the Mount 24 hours a day, while Jews' freedom of worship is limited," he said, after touring the Mount with a police escort, and under the watchful eyes of Muslim Wakf representatives

"It was very exciting to visit the Temple Mount, on Tisha B'Av, the day of mourning for the Temple Mount. I received the impression that freedom of worship is fully implemented toward the Muslims," Danon said. "They can enter the Mount 24 hours a day, from nine gates. Whereas the Jews can only enter from one gate, under severe restrictions."

"Religious Jews, who wear kippahs, can only ascend the Mount in groups of fifteen people, with police escort," he noted, "and they are forbidden from praying on the Mount. Secular [Jews] or tourists, on the other hand, can ascend freely."

Danon announced that he would be asking the Minister for Public Security, Yitzchak Aharonovich, to change the existing instructions regarding the ascent of Jews onto the Mount. He added that "the heart ached" at seeing the results of the illegal digging carried out by the Muslim Wakf in the south-eastern part of the Mount.

Rabbi Yisrael Ariel of the Temple Mount Institute spoke to disciples on the mount and said that there was something deeply wrong with the custom of grieving for Temple when it is already time to rebuild it.

The Temple Mount was liberated by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. Then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, a secular Jew, said felt no religious connection to the Mount and referred to the compound as "a Vatican." The Israeli government handed the keys to the Mount back to the Muslim Wakf shortly after the war. At the time, most religious Jews were also uncertain in their feelings toward the Mount, and national emotion was focused on the Kotel, an external wall of the Second Temple era which the Jews had been praying at for many centuries after the Roman destruction of that glorious structure. To this day, some rabbis see the Mount as off-limits to Jews because of matters of ritual impurity, and uncertainty regarding the original location of the Temple. In recent years, however, there appears to be a swelling of feeling in Jewish hearts toward the Temple Mount and a growing confidence that the Mount should be visited by Jews.



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