Something jumped out at me reading the recent New York Times article, “Jews Challenge Rules to Claim Heart of Jerusalem.” The Sept. 21 story was about “small groups of Jews” increasingly ascending the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, the sacred site Haram al-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary for Muslims — who see the visits as a provocation.
The billing for the piece stated: “More mainstream Jews are seeking to enter and pray at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.”
Just who are these ‘mainstream’ Jews? Reporter Jodi Rudoren wrote:
For decades the Israelis drawn to the site were mainly a fringe of hard-core zealots, but now more mainstream Jews are lining up to enter, as a widening group of Israeli politicians and rabbis challenge the longstanding rules constraining Jewish access and conduct.
Rudoren also mentions the violence this practice has fostered:
“A spate of stone-throwing clashes erupted this month”.
“Stone-throwing clashes”? Here’s a close up of Israeli forces making way for Jewish worshipers on Rosh Hashanah, Sept 4-6, more than two weeks before the story was published. The video below shows their entrance into the area. You will see continual blasts from the soldiers. It looks like an invasion.
This next video is a few minutes later. The blasts continue in earnest. It sounds like shock and awe. Notice the panic and fear and defiance that it stirs among Muslims on the Noble Sanctuary.
And later still– the place looks like a warzone. Phalanxes of soldiers race through with fingers on the triggers. More blasts. Sirens. A cleared plaza.
Are these actually “stone-throwing clashes”? No. They’re highly-militarized interventions. The evidence is not hard to find. There are literally dozens of videos uploaded on YouTube for Rosh Hashanah, showing scores of soldiers clearing an area with loud, offensive and frightening explosions to create a path for Jewish worshipers. It’s extremely provocative.
Now let’s consider the Times’ claim that these are mainstream Jews, not zealots, going to the Temple Mount.
Over the last few years, a cause long taken up by only a fringe group of far right-wingers has increasingly been embraced by the modern Orthodox — known here as religious Zionists — who have also gained political power. At three recent Parliament hearings, religious lawmakers and cabinet ministers questioned the status quo, in which non-Muslims can enter the site only for a few hours five days a week, and those identified by the police as Jews are separated, escorted by police officers and admonished not to dance, sing, bow down or even move their lips in prayer.
Nowhere does the Times article state that these lawmakers are extremists. Take Deputy Knesset Speaker Moshe Feiglin. He is a well-known religious fanatic and supporter of Rabbi Meir Kahane, and was part of a group of settlers that stormed the mosque on Monday, under the protection of Israeli Police.
As we have pointed out many times, the Israeli mainstream has become more rightwing and fanatical in recent years. But when the Times says mainstream, it means warm and fuzzy.
For instance, Rudoren interviews Jack Stroh. Just a cardiologist from New Jersey with a religious interest:
Jack Stroh, a cardiologist from East Brunswick, N.J., who visited on Wednesday, has been bringing friends for five years before the holidays of Sukkot and Passover — two of three pilgrimage festivals when ancient Jews were required to pray at the temples.
“My cousin said that if Jews don’t go up to the mountain there is an increased chance that the government will say Jews are not interested and will give it away,” he said as his group waited to enter. “I’m taking them up. Someone took me up. They’ll take other people up; it’s a growing phenomenon.”
But Stroh is not hard to find online. That’s him on the left below. Interviewed in 2007 by NJ Jewish News online, Stroh arranges trips for Americans to show off Israeli “anti terror units”.
“We learned how to fire M-16s. [Stroh said] They took us to their firing range where they have dummies, some of whom are supposed to be civilians and some of whom are terrorists. Some might be women. How do you know which is which?”..
Stroh said he had been contacted by Yisrael Margolin, a former Highland Park resident who made aliya in 2000…
Margolin, reached in Israel by e-mail, said the idea to create volunteer teams to counter terrorist infiltrations came from the IDF itself. There are now 320 such teams all over Israel that have been trained by Magen Yehuda, which means “shield of Judea.”
Now check out this Magen Yehuda video. Mainstream? Really? This is just militant Zionism. And if that’s now the Israeli mainstream, shouldn’t the Times be explaining how rightwing Israel is these days?
Now look at the Times video that accompanies the story: Conflict Grows Over Temple Mount. The Times interviews Rabbi Chaim Richman, director of The Temple Institute. Mainstream? Look at the institute’s website:
For the last 26 years only one organization has been actively preparing for the building of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
Let’s be clear about this agenda. Richman is dedicated to the rebuilding of the Holy Temple on the third holiest site for Muslims. In a word, he’s a religious zealot.
Now scroll up again and look at the dozens and dozens and dozens of Israeli soldiers storming Al Aqsa at 1:05 in the video. At 2:01 see how they have cleared the area.
Then recall the hundreds, some said thousands, of Israeli forces deployed inside and around the Church of Holy Sepulcher Easter Mass 2013, surrounding the Old City, preventing Palestinian Christians from worshiping. Many worshipers were attacked.
Over 300 right-wing Israelis enter al-Aqsa compound with armed guards for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot on Sunday. Yesterday 15 Jerusalemites were arrested and 40 injured peacefully protesting outside Al Aqsa (video below).
Jerusalem is a Holy City and it is not being treated in a holy way. Al Aqsa is on coveted ground, and it is being threatened by religious nationalist zealots. These are not just ‘clashes’, they are extremely provocative moves by authorities in the guise of ‘protecting worshipers’, many with designs on the destruction of Al Aqsa. This escalates tension and the situation demands international redress, immediately, before the situation leads to violence against the Mosque.