Yesterday the New York Times ran an op-ed by its regular Israeli rightwing columnist Shmuel Rosner, titled “Israel’s Irresponsible Arabs,” that accused Palestinian leaders of stirring a tense population with lies about Al Aqsa mosque, in “a deliberate attempt to make the Temple Mount a point of religious conflict.”
Yes, tensions are high. But are those leaders being irresponsible?
Here are two indications of why Palestinians are upset by Israeli statements about the religious site in the occupied Old City. First, the deputy foreign minister of Israel says that her “dream is to see the Israeli flag flying over the Temple Mount.”
Tzipi Hotovely called on the government to allow Jews to go up to the mount and pray there. The deputy foreign minister’s comments, which were disowned by the Prime Minister’s Office, came amid diplomatic attempts to quell rising.
More of Hotovely’s statement:
“I think it’s the center of Israeli sovereignty, the capital of Israel, the holiest place for the Jewish people,” Likud lawmaker and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said in an interview with the Knesset channel. “It’s my dream to see the Israeli flag flying on the Temple Mount.”
Some have now called for Hotovely’s resignation. One Israeli leader said that she was “messianic” and threatening a holy war.
Next, there’s the video below, featuring prominent Israelis, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s minister of Agriculture, calling for the replacement of the Dome of the Rock with the third temple. The video is two years old but was linked in an article two days ago in Haaretz by Dan Caspi on the 20th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination. The piece and the video are in Hebrew. But you can see the temple’s planned outline in blue in the video; and Cantor Michael Davis sent along a summary and partial translations:
They use slick interactive graphics to imagine destroying the Muslim shrine in order to build a Jewish temple. The first speaker is Member of Knesset and Minister of Agriculture Uri Uriel. The second is Avshalom Kor who is a state radio personality – supposedly, as apolitical as you can get. The third is an archaeologist. It seems to me that, in light of the mainstreaming of the Jewish claims on the Haram el Sharif, this is very relevant right now. It used to be just a fringe group who talked about this. But Avshalom Kor is respectable. This production is slick.
The speakers stand before the Dome of the Rock. Al Aqsa mosque is occasionally visible behind one of them. Uri Ariel says:
Hello to you from the Holy Mountain. I am Uri, Yehuda the Priest, Ariel. My ancestors were the priests who worked here in the Holy Temple. Every day in the morning, the burnt offering sacrifice ended with all the priests gathering on the steps of the Sanctuary. You can see the exact location right behind us. And here they would offer the Priestly Benediction. The source of this blessing is on the Holy Mountain. As it is written: “the Lord will bless you from Zion.” And we, the emissaries of God bless the Jewish people with love. Our ancient Rabbis teach us that the holy presence rested on the fingers of the priests when they blessed the people. The priests would utter the Divine name of God. I wish myself and all my brother priests that we will live to say this blessing in the Holy Temple.
May the Lord bless you and keep you
May the Lord cause His countenance to give you light and be gracious unto you
May the Lord raise His countenance to you and grant your peace
And they shall set my Name on the Children of Israel and I shall bless them.
Avshalom Kor– who is a linguist with a daily show on Israeli army radio— then provides lots of references to Israeli culture showing that Israeli words and idioms originate in traditional religion.
Your grandfather and mine going back 1,900 prayed with the familiar words we still use today in our prayers to rebuild the Temple, here.
The video is here: