Monday, October 11, 2021

Land Uber Alles

Police fired tear gas to disperse Palestinians last Jerusalem Day (Jewish Press)
The late singer-songwriter, Jim Croce, got it right when he said: 

You don't tug on Superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger
And you don't mess around with Jim

The message in these lyrics is that one should not do the kinds of things that will cause a negative and likely harmful reaction or retaliation. This it would seem is the ultimate in common sense. But sometimes ideological agendas get in the way of common sense. And when that reaction or retaliation spreads beyond the instigators to the wider community, then in my view those acts are outright criminal.

This is unfortunately the situation among the a certain overly zealous faction of Religious Zionist Movement - the so called  ‘Land Uber Alles’ crowd. (HT: Dr. William Gewirtz). 

The issue at hand is prayer on the Temple Mount (Har Habayis). Which is Judaism’s holiest site. The Temple Mount is where the Beis Hamikdash stood. They insist on being allowed to pray on that site. Which should be their right based on Israeli law which allows people of any faith in Israel to pray in any location they choose. That should certainly include the place God chose as his resting place on earth. 

The problem with that - as the entire world knows - is that Muslims are there too.  They too consider that place holy (for entirely different reasons). That’s why they built a mosque there. At which they have been praying for hundreds of years. 

Fair play should dictate that with claims of holiness by both sides each religion should be tolerant of the other. But that is not true in either case.  Muslims were granted the right to control that area soon after Israel recaptured it in 1967. For security reasons the Israeli government has not allowed Jews to pray up there. Muslim’s see that as a threat to their control. 

Which is not an unreasonable concern since there are a few radical religious extremists that have advocated taking full control over that area and blowing up the mosque. Of course they don’t have the power or the numbers to succeed. But there are a few crazy people plotting to do just that. 

In my view there is a time to assert our rights and a time not to. In the case of prayer on the Temple mount, the latter is the case. There is no religious obligation to pray on the Temple Mount. In fact most Poskim forbid going up there at all (for Halachic reasons that beyond the scope of this post). 

True, there are Religious Zionist Poskim that point out that those Halachic restrictions do not apply to every area. They have delineated those areas that are technically permitted. They may be right. But most Poskim disagree and forbid going up there at all for fear that  it would be too easy to inadvertently stray into the Halachicly forbidden areas. And feel that it is in any case unwise to incite the Muslims towards violence by going up there. Which has often proven to be the case.

I could not agree more. 

It is clear that Jews  praying on the Temple mount is extremely upsetting to devout Muslims. Past attempts at doing so have generated violence. People got hurt. And nothing is gained.  

The ‘Land Uber Alles’ crowd sees red when a commons sense suggestion is made about not going up there and avoiding conflict. They everything is gained by asserting our rights there. (As if  we need to prove that - having the most military nation in the region.) Their constant refrain is that ‘the Arabs don’t need an excuse to attack us.’ ‘They do it anyway all over the country’ ‘Should we abandon Tel Aviv too?  ‘Or maybe even abandon all of Israel since they are upset by our mere presence there?!’

That is a ridiculous counter argument.  Just because the Arabs would prefer we were not in Israel at all does not mean they will all refuse to make peace with us. The Abraham Accords have proven that is not the case. But when a few extremist Jews ‘spit in the wind’ by praying on the temple mount - even quietly  Muslims see that as a religious threat. Which exacerbates the admittedly existing enmity. And that converts to violence which is sometimes deadly!.

Praying on the Temple mount is a selfish act. An assumed religious right does not mean they have to excersize thet right.. It will not bring Moshiach any sooner. It will however likely cause a harm.

I therefore am therefore dismayed at the reversal of decision to forbid silent prayer by Jews on the Temple Mount.  As are the Israeli police. Being in charge of security, they are in the best position to know the consequences of allowing it.  

But the ‘Land Uber Alles‘ religious Zionists are oblivious to these consequences. Or simply don’t care about them. This attitude is best summed up Jewish Press columnist, David Israel, in a recent column where he said: 

Today, very much like the time of the Second Temple, the absence of Jewish control over the Temple Mount represents the deep gap in the nation over our national future. And as long as the vast majority of Israeli Jews reject the Temple Mount, Jerusalem will continue to be ruled by Hamas, represented unwittingly by the likes of Omer Bar-Lev.

The only way to change this is to convince massive numbers of Israeli Jews to go up to the Temple Mount, to visit the earthly home of our Father in Heaven. If the other side amasses 100 thousand – let us bring half a million..

All I can say to this is ‘God forbid‘!