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No-brainer: Temple Mount is holier to us than them, so it’s ours

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At Azure, a neocon site, a messianic argument for the nonseparation of religion and state, in fact the service of religion to the cause of Jewish sovereignty over East Jerusalem, from Evelyn Gordon and Hadassah Levy. This argument reminds me of neocon Bill Kristol on the Yivo stage a few years ago saying he’s religious but he doesn’t talk about it. I bet he believes some of this stuff. Oh and it reminds me of Theodor Herzl promising the Pope, the Sultan and the Kaiser that the religious sites would be extraterritorialized. But then he was exilic and secular. Thanks to Ali Gharib.

As long as the Land of Israel was ruled by the Romans, Ottomans, or British, all of whom forbade Jews to ascend the Mount, the halachic prohibition against doing so had no practical impact. But when a Jewish state controls the Mount, and thus could enable Jewish worship there if it so chose, the fact that Jews rarely visit, and certainly never pray there—even as thousands of Muslims pray there every week—naturally leads the world, and many Israelis as well, to conclude that the Mount is far more important to Muslims than it is to Jews. In fact, the very opposite is the case: The Mount is Judaism’s holiest site, to which Jews have prayed three times a day for millennia, while for Muslims, it is the third-most-important site, after Mecca and Medina. But since truth often matters less than perception, we should hardly be surprised that every peace proposal of the last decade—from President Bill Clinton’s in 2000 to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s in 2008—has placed the Mount in Muslim rather than Jewish hands. As Rabbi Yaakov Medan of the Har Etzion Yeshiva told the 2009 conference, what finally convinced him of the need for action was being harangued by a senior security official about his community’s failure to understand that this was an “existential struggle,” and Israel was losing it….

It took centuries after the Temple’s destruction to transform Judaism from the religion of a sovereign state into one adapted to the needs of exile. Moreover, this change was fiercely resisted by certain groups, such as the priesthood, which was reluctant to acknowledge its necessity. Seen from this perspective, it is perhaps unsurprising that, sixty-two years after the establishment of the State of Israel, the process of transforming Judaism back into a religion focused on the needs of sovereignty has barely begun, and what little steps have been made have been met with fierce resistance from some elements of Israeli society. Nevertheless, it is vital to accelerate this process…

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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