Temple Madness

The Jews are here to stay. Get over it – it’s called mass migration and it’s difficult to reverse. They bring their own languages, culture and religion, like any other people of exile. The Jews have survived the forced conversions, the pogroms and the Holocaust. It’s an ancient religion and quite similar to the other monotheistic faiths converged into this small region. Jerusalem happens to be sacred territory for all three – Judaism with its Wailing Wall, Islam and the Harem Sheriff or the Golden Dome of the Rock and the assortment of Holy Christian shrines. Who gets the right to visit Temple Mount? The Golden dome of Islam’s third holiest shrine forbids any non-Muslim from entering dating back to the Turkish Mamluks. Since 1967, when Israel annexed the whole of Jerusalem, it is manned by Israeli police who speak fluent Arabic and ask you a series of religious questions to confirm your faith – as long as you can recite parts of the Qu’ran, you will have gained enough credibility to join the worshippers while getting harassed by a young Palestinian boys for five Sheikels. Ironically, most Arabs and Muslims can’t visit their Temple. ‘Israeli-Arabs’ are permitted together with the rest of the residents of Jerusalem of the Muslim faith – these two groups of Palestinian enjoy considerably more privileges in mobility than the residents of Arab West Bank. Movement is restricted for the Arabs in general, but it is most acute for those in Arab towns such as Ramallah and Hebron rather than ‘Arab-Israeli’ towns such as Jaffa and Jerusalem.

The Jordanian government has been the custodian of the dome itself and its surroundings, refurbishing and speaking out when a religious unrest unfolds on its holy ground. No Jordanian, with its almost 50% Palestinian population, can get access into the ‘Israeli’ territories, including the West Bank. The Temple cannot be accessed by many Arabs and Muslims, simply because, the Palestinians don’t have autonomy over their Temple and its neighbours are at a State of War with Israel.

To add fuel to the hellfire, Orthodox Jews claim that the sacred site for Muslims is one of the holiest sites for Jews. Quite a contradiction when influential Rabbis have outlawed visits and surreptitious prayer to maintain the status quo of Arab-Israeli relations. Conflagrations at the site are not a recent phenomenon, but seem to be in perpetual state of tension. All it took was a couple of fanatics to stoke the fire, an inflammatory Jewish prayer by a US-born right-wing activist called Yehuda Glick. He’s now, in a ‘serious but stable condition’ after his attempted assassination by Motaz Hijazi, a man with nothing to live for in the impoverished Silwan area of Jerusalem – condemned to religious zeal. While Mr. Hijazi won’t be spending more time in the Israeli prison system because he was summarily executed, people like Glick will continue to push and shove their agenda as demonstrated by him breaking a woman’s arm only two weeks’ before his almost fatal altercation. The government rightly banned him from the disputed quarter in Jerusalem – it’s a shame the Israeli Government can’t ban all extremists from the country irrespective of creed, including Glick – it might reduce the Mount of troubles and make the Temple a high earner for the State.




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