Av 6, 5769, 27 July 09
As Tisha B'Av, the annual day of mourning over the destruction of the Temple, approaches, Members of Knesset met to talk about the Temple, its role in Jewish life, and Israel's approach to the Temple Mount today.
Dr. Mordechai Keidar discussed the political implications of Israel's stance vis-a-vis the Temple Mount. Referring to the Palestinian Authority's demands for Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, he said, "The struggle for Jerusalem is not territorial, it is theological... do we give in to the Muslim claim that Judaism is no longer relevant?"
The Muslim view of Judaism is the root of the PA's refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish country, he said. The PA's claims to Jerusalem are clearly not due to Islam's reverence for Jerusalem, as Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran, he argued.
In response to those who say that Fatah is more moderate than Hamas when it comes to Jewish claims in Jerusalem, he showed the audience a PLO scarf bearing the words "Jerusalem is Ours," with a picture of the Al-Aksa mosque on the Temple Mount. Even the "moderate" PLO sees it necessary to firmly reject all Jewish claim to the Temple Mount, he concluded.
Another speaker, MK Uri Ariel of the Ichud Leumi (National Union), related his encounter with a former chief of Israel police. MK Ariel opened his meeting with the police chief by inquiring into matters on the Temple Mount, and explained his interest by reminding the officer that the Temple Mount is Judaism's most holy site.
The officer was surprised, he recalled, as he had been told that the Western Wall is the holiest site in Judaism. Many share this misconception, Ariel said.
A Chabad rabbi was invited to speak as well, and shared a religious view of the matter. By laying a firm claim to sovereignty on the Temple Mount, Israel will not only not drive supporters away, but will actually win friends, he said.
"When you tell the nations of the world the truth, not only will they stop fighting against you, but they'll even join forces with you," he explained.