Friday, November 7, 2014

What Makes Islamic State so Attractive? - Dr. Mordechai Kedar

by Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Why are young people rushing to join IS?
 [Written in Hebrew for Arutz Sheva, translated by Rochel Sylvetsky]

The fact that Islamic State (formerly Daesh or ISIS/ISIL) is highly popular in the Islamic world cannot be ignored. Not a day goes by without reading about large numbers of people from all parts of the globe – both Muslims, would-be Muslims and converts – arriving in droves at the Jihad centers of Syria and Iraq  prepared to give up their lives for Islamic State.

A number of groups have sworn allegiance to the "State's" leader, Caliph Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. The most recent of these is Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a terror group based in Sinai that poses a threat to Egypt.

In addition, the fact that we have not heard of one protest or demonstration against Islamic State anywhere in the Islamic world, not even against its treatment of minorities, women and children, cannot be ignored.  The thunderous quiet is in sharp contrast to the violent demonstrations that enveloped that very same world over caricatures, films and military actions of which it disapproved. Does the Islamic world agree with beheadings, mass murder of minorities and the sale of women in the slave market? And another question that needs answering is why Al Qaeda was not as attractive as Islamic State during the years in which it operated.

The most meaningful answer to these questions is that to many Muslims, Islamic State appears to be the real thing – pure, holy, original and unadulterated Islam. 

To them, it is the Islam that Mohammed brought to the world and that guided his cohorts and those who ruled after him. Many Muslims have read or heard about books on Islamic history, where the way Islamic forces conquered most of the 7th century world, butchering infidels, looting churches and monasteries, selling infidels on the market and forcing those who were vanquished to convert, is described with great pride – and without an iota of shame.

Islamic historians have never felt the need to apologize for the way in which they conquered the world, to the point where they constantly describe Islam as a religion of peace. Islamic State today is doing the same: it conquers areas, beheads  some, crucifies others, sells men and women into slavery just the way the first Muslims did in the seventh century, and it also cuts off the hands of thieves, stones adulterers, whips criminals, all in accordance with Sharia law. Can any Muslim believer protest against Sharia? Can he protest the return of Muslim practices to the glorious days of the Prophet and his followers? Can a Muslim criticize Mohammed's behavior when the Islamic faith declares him infallible? 

In contrast to al Qaeda, which never took over territory in order to establish an Islamic state, IS is the modern territorial expression of what seems to be the exact replica of what Mohammed created in the seventh century. The writing on the IS flag is taken from the seventh century and followers believe that it includes Mohammed's seal. A good many IS fighters wear black, as did the early fighters for Islam. At the head of IS today is a Caliph, the title given to those rulers who took over after Mohammed. This is a crucial point, because the institution of the Caliphate was dissolved in 1924 by Attaturk (Mustafa Kamal), who has now been declared an enemy of Islam by the faithful. He stopped Sharia, set fire to mosques, closed madrassas, switched from Arabic to Latin letters and tried to uproot Islam from Turkey by every means at his disposal.  IS, however, has arrived to renew the Caliphate, a subject that plays on a sensitive string in the Islamic heart.

Another issue is that IS does not hesitate to threaten the infidel Western powers, and has no problem butchering American and British citizens– the symbols of heretic Christian Western hegemony. These murders are carried out confidently and unashamedly in front of the camera, while the murderers read a scornful English message meant for those countries' leaders, considered the strongest men in the world, leading the strongest countries in the world The sheer audacity of IS makes Moslems all over the world proud and makes them feel that this is the way a true Moslem should act and speak when faced with heretics.

This issue is most important to the young Muslims living in the Europe and the USA, who have not been absorbed into Western society and have developed feelings of rage against the countries in which they were raised. Their mass exodus to the Jihad centers of Iraq and Syria stems from their desire to take revenge on the West for pushing them, the children of  immigrants, to the periphery of society and for discriminating against them although they were born, raised and educated in the West.

Of late, several videos video clips have surfaced whose subject is the young Yazidi women handed over to the fighters of IS to serve as slaves. The clips portray the lighthearted bantering of the fighters prior to the young women's being divided up among them. In traditional Islamic societies, where men are not allowed to have any contact with women other than their wives, this relaxation of prohibitions acts as a strong drawing factor.

Islamic State arrived in a world where social media – youtube, facebook, twitter – are within everyone's reach, mainly through the use of mobile phones. The intensive utilization of these methods of communication by IS activists on internet sites set up for that purpose, facilitates recording their ideas, propagating them and recruiting volunteers.

Islamic State is a wealthy organization: it has wrested control over oil fields, and countries – most likely Turkey – buy oil from it, some directly and some indirectly. IS fighters rob banks, kidnap people for ransoms in the millions, receive massive funding from countries such as Qatar, levy taxes on the populations forced to live under IS control in the areas it has conquered.  All this enables IS to purchase arms, weapons, means of communication and transportation that create the image of success – and in attracting people, nothing succeeds like success.

Islamic State has gained possession of arsenals of American weapons and arms that belonged to the Iraqi army. These are now in the hands of the Jihadists. Some of the weapons airlifted to the Kurds fighting in Kobane in northern Syria, fell into the hands of IS as, literally, gifts from heaven. Many Muslims believe that American weaponry that serves Jihad fighters battling America is a sign from heaven proving that Allah is helping the Jihad fighters win against their enemies by means of the enemies' own weapons.

Just for the sake of comparison: al Qaeda does not control any territory, does not collect taxes, does not force Sharia law on local populations, has no Caliph at its head, and even its Jihad against infidels has waned over the years. Al Qaeda's image is that of a tired, old, decrepit organization that has lost its way, while Islamic State – at this point – seems a young and vibrant one, whose actions are in true accordance with Islamic precepts and which does not give any consideration to the heretical, materialistic and permissive cultural mores with which Western culture tries to inculcate Muslims all over the world.

As things stand, IS will probably grow larger over the next few months – or years – and become more dangerous and influential in the Middle East and possibly the world. 

This organization can be made to disappear in one of two ways: the first, a battle to the death that the world declares against it, putting "boots on the ground" to destroy or imprison the Jihadists, down to the last man. The problem with this scenario is the high price in human life and resources the world will have to pay in order to bring it about.

The second scenario is what has always happened in Islamic history: once a group begins to rule, internal feuds appear based on ideology, religion, funds, personal differences,tribal and organizational animosities – leading to eventual disintegration and its fall from power. The problem with this scenario is that it takes a long time and can span decades during which the organization continues shedding blood and turning its subjects' lives into hell.  

Meanwhile, the world does nothing of any consequence against IS, which is advancing, gaining control over more territory and threatening other nations in its immediate environs. Organizations and volunteers are eagerly joining it and there is no end in sight. Islamic State is undoubtedly more attractive than al Qaeda, making it stronger and turning it into a clear and present danger to the Middle East and the entire world. 

The real problem in the West today is that too many European politicians depend on the votes of large, ever growing Muslim populations, meaning that there is very little chance that these politicians will take a stand against anything Islamic, including Islamic State and how it must be addressed.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Promoting "British Values" by Curbing Free Speech - Soeren Kern

by Soeren Kern

"Yes we need to combat the Islamist threat, but this is not the way to do it.... You can't protect democracy by undermining its very foundations…. Freedom of expression is an essential freedom for any democratic society." — Colin Hart, Director, The Christian Institute.
"They made us feel threatened about our religion. They asked, 'Do you have friends from other religions?' They asked this many times until we answered what they wanted us to say." — Eleventh grade student at a Jewish Orthodox school for girls.
Trinity Christian School, a small independent school in Reading, is being downgraded and may even be closed for not inviting a Muslim imam to lead a chapel service.
"Individuals who criticize the spread of Islamic Sharia law in Britain could be deemed to be racist and silenced…. Without precise legislative definitions, deciding what [is extremism] is subjective and therefore open to abuse now or by any future authoritarian government." — Keith Porteous Wood, Director, National Secular Society.

The British government has unveiled a new proposal that would require Islamic extremists to have their social media posts pre-approved by the government.

The plan—which is aimed at curbing the spread of jihadist propaganda in Britain—is part of a wide-ranging effort to strengthen the government's counter-terrorism strategy ahead of general elections set for May 2015.

The new policy is so broad in scope, however, and the definition of "extremist" is so all-encompassing, that the government could ultimately silence anyone whose views are deemed to be politically incorrect, according to free speech activists.

The so-called Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs) would prohibit any individual the government considers to be an "extremist" from appearing on radio and television, protesting in public or even posting messages on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, without permission.

The new measure was announced in passing by British Home Secretary Theresa May in a speech focused almost entirely on Islamic terrorism, and delivered at the Conservative Party's annual conference on September 29.

May's proposal was roundly condemned by critics who warned that such "gagging orders" would amount to an unprecedented attack on the freedom of speech.

'Are you an extremist?' UK Home Secretary Theresa May has announced new "Extremism Disruption Orders" that will ban any person the government labels an "extremist" from appearing on radio or TV, protesting in public or even posting messages on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, without permission.
The debate was reignited on October 31, when the Daily Telegraph obtained a copy of a letter written by George Osborne, a senior member of the British cabinet, in which he informed constituents that the EDOs would not be limited to fighting Islamic extremism.

The ultimate objective of the EDOs, Osborne wrote, would be to "eliminate extremism in all its forms" and they would be used to curtail the activities of all those who "spread hate but do not break laws."

Osborne added that that the new orders—which will be included in the Conservative Party's election manifesto—would extend to any activities that "justify hatred" against people on the grounds of religion, sexual orientation, gender or disability.

Osborne also revealed that anyone seeking to challenge an EDO would have to go the High Court and file an appeal based on a question of law rather than a question of fact.

In an interview with the Telegraph, the director of the National Secular Society, Keith Porteous Wood, warned that individuals who criticize the spread of Islamic Sharia law in Britain could be deemed racist, and silenced through an EDO. He said:
"The Government should have every tool possible to tackle extremism and terrorism, but there is a huge arsenal of laws already in place and a much better case needs to be made for introducing draconian measures such as Extremism Disruption Orders, which are almost unchallengeable and deprive individuals of their liberties.
"Without precise legislative definitions, deciding what are 'harmful activities of extremist individuals who spread hate' is subjective and therefore open to abuse now or by any future authoritarian government."
The Christian Institute, a group that works to protect religious liberty in Britain, warned that the government could use EDOs to suppress Christian viewpoints. The institute's director, Colin Hart, said:
"It's not hard to see how they could be misused against Christians who support traditional marriage or otherwise breach the tenets of the Equality Act. Where will it leave a minister who preaches that salvation is through Christ alone?
"Alarmingly these proposals are even worse than Labour's notorious Religious Hatred Bill or Section 5 of the Public Order Act that were so detrimental to freedom of speech.
"What's more, Theresa May's plans are unnecessary—there are already extensive anti-extremist powers available to the authorities. Yes we need to combat the Islamist threat, but this is not the way to do it.
"In effect the plans set up State gagging orders which are maintained by the threat of prison. You can't protect democracy by undermining its very foundations. The Home Secretary's proposals fly in the face of her very public espousal of 'British values.' Freedom of expression is an essential freedom for any democratic society."
In a statement, the institute's deputy director, Simon Calvert, added:
"Anyone who expresses an opinion that isn't regarded as totally compliant with the Equality Act could find themselves ranked alongside Anjem Choudary, Islamic State or Boko Haram.
"How many times a day do intellectually lazy political activists accuse their opponents of 'spreading hatred'? The left does it, the right does it, liberals do it, conservatives do it, it is routine.
"Hand a judge a file of a thousand Twitter postings accusing this atheist or that evangelical of 'spreading hatred' and they could easily rule that an EDO is needed. It's a crazy idea—the Conservatives need to drop this like a hot brick."
A spokesman for the Conservative Party rejected the criticism, saying, "We have never sought to restrict peaceful protest or free speech, provided it is within the law." He added:
"In Government, Conservatives have always tried to strike the right balance on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom to manifest one's religion, and the need to protect the public.
"Our proposal to introduce Extremism Disruption Orders reflects the need to go further on challenging the threat from extremism and those who spread their hateful views so that we can keep that democratic society safe."
If the new proposal is enacted, it would not be the first time that the government has expanded the applicability of laws that were originally designed to crack down on Islamic extremism.

In October, Ofsted, the official agency for inspecting schools, downgraded a Jewish school for failing to promote "British values" as required by new regulations that were enacted in June.

The so-called "Trojan Horse" regulations came in response to an alleged plot by Muslim fundamentalists to Islamize state-funded schools in England and Wales. Subsequent inspections found that many schools had indeed come under the influence of Islamic radicals.

In response, then British Education Secretary Michael Gove announced that the government would require all 20,000 primary and secondary schools to "promote British values." These values include the primacy of British civil and criminal law, religious tolerance and opposition to gender segregation.

In an inspection report dated October 27, Ofsted downgraded the Beis Yaakov High School for girls in greater Manchester for failing to promote Islam and homosexual rights. The report states:
"There are major gaps in students' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Students are not provided with sufficient opportunities to learn about or understand people of other faiths or cultures. The school does not promote adequately students' awareness and tolerance of communities which are different to their own. As a result, the school does not prepare students adequately for life in modern Britain. This means that the school is failing to give its students an acceptable standard of education."
Separately, Ofsted inspectors who visited an Orthodox Jewish primary school in mid-October sparked outrage after they asked 13-year-old pupils whether they know how babies are made and whether they know any homosexuals.

According to the National Association of Jewish Orthodox Schools (NAJOS), one ninth-grade pupil said she felt "uncomfortable and upset" after inspectors told pupils that a "woman might choose to live with another woman and a man could choose to live with a man, it's up to them."

Another girl in eleventh-grade said: "They made us feel threatened about our religion. They asked 'Do you have friends from other religions?' They asked this many times until we answered what they wanted us to say."

In a statement, NAJOS said: "Ofsted inspectors have been asking pupils inappropriate and challenging questions, many of which fall outside the religious ethos and principles at orthodox Jewish faith schools."

NAJOS director Jonathan Rabson, added: "This confrontational approach by inspectors is a worrying trend that has never been seen before in the UK Jewish community. We fear it suggests a shift in policy towards faith schools."

Rabbi David Meyer, the director of Partnership for Jewish Schools (PaJeS), an educational oversight body, said:
"We are seeing a worrying trend of Ofsted inspectors showing a lack of respect for the values and traditions of our community.
"Multiculturalism isn't about conforming to one standard, but celebrating differences of perspectives, and so long as they are founded on tolerance and mutual respect, should be valued and protected.
"Rather than promoting the values, our schools are feeling that our ethos is being undermined and we are being treated in a very harsh fashion."
The Chief Operating Officer of Ofsted, Matthew Coffey, rejected the accusations of inappropriate questioning, saying:
"Inspectors must ask questions which probe the extent to which pupils are prepared for the next stage in their education, or employment, or for life in modern Britain.
"I am sorry if these questions seemed insensitive or offensive. Inspectors use age-appropriate questions to test children's understanding and tolerance of lifestyles different to their own."
Meanwhile, Ofsted has warned the Trinity Christian School, a small independent school in Reading, that it is being downgraded and may even be closed for not inviting a Muslim imam to lead a chapel service. By refusing to do so, Ofsted says, the school, which caters to pupils up to the age of eight, is failing to "actively promote" harmony between different faiths.

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Don't Tell Erdogan Jihadists Kill People - Burak Bekdil

by Burak Bekdil

It was vintage Erdogan: There is no Islamic terror. ISIS is not an Islamic organization and its name is not even ISIS.

Slightly more than a year ago, the world was shocked at the dramatic death tolls in Kenya and Pakistan when jihadists, in separate attacks over one weekend, killed more than 150 innocent people -- with the Kenya attack claiming victims aged between two and 78. In a public speech after the "black weekend," Turkey's then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (now President) looked very sad. Indeed, he was sad.

But not for the victims of terror attacks the previous weekend. He was mourning Asmaa al-Beltagi, a poor, 17-year-old Egyptian girl who had been shot dead by security forces in Cairo as she was protesting the ouster of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, in a July coup d'état. Asmaa's father was a senior Brotherhood figure and after her death, Erdogan once even shed tears during a televised speech. He then commemorated the girl at almost every election rally.

Earlier in 2013, Erdogan's Egyptian comrades, the Muslim Brotherhood, had perpetrated the worst attacks against the Coptic Church of Egypt since the 14th century. In one particular week, 40 churches were looted and torched while 23 others were attacked and heavily damaged. In one town, after burning a Franciscan school, Islamists paraded three of its nuns on the streets, as if the nuns were prisoners of war.

Two security guards working on a tour boat owned by Christians were burned alive; and an orphanage was burned down. Meanwhile, the Brotherhood's Facebook page claimed that, "the Church has declared war against Islam and Muslims."

Today if one typed the words "Islam" and "terrorism" into a quick search, Google would produce over 42 million results. But one of Erdogan's favorite statements is his famous line, "There is no Islamic terror." In various times and capitals, Erdogan has powerfully stated that, "Muslims never resort to terror or violence." Once he said of Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's Muslim president, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity: "I went to Sudan and did not see any genocide there. Muslims never resort to genocide."

The world's Islamic terrorist organizations must have felt disappointed by Erdogan's perpetual denial of their existence, acts of terror and stated goals. They sent one such group to Erdogan's doorstep so that he could rethink his "denialism."

'Islamic State? ISIS? Terrorists?' Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has frequently declared, "There is no Islamic terror" and "Muslims never resort to terror or violence." He once stated, "I went to Sudan and did not see any genocide there. Muslims never resort to genocide."
The death toll in Syria and Iraq at the hands of extremists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] is estimated at "several thousand" since the summer, when the group took large swathes of land in the two countries neighboring Turkey. Only last Sunday, ISIS's jihadists lined up and shot dead at least 50 Iraqi men, women and children from the same tribe. The killings, all committed in public, raised the death toll suffered by the Sunni Al Bu Nimr tribe in recent days to 150. Earlier last week, Human Rights Watch reported that ISIS executed 600 Iraqi prison inmates when they seized Mosul, the country's second-largest city, in June.

Ironically, in June the same men kidnapped 49 Turks, including Erdogan's consul general and consulate officials along with their families, in Mosul and kept them as hostages for 101 days before they agreed to release them in exchange for ISIS terrorists kept in Turkish prisons. None of these acts seems to have persuaded Erdogan that the terrorists were killing simply for the universal advancement of Salafism, and that they call themselves Muslims.

After a meeting in Paris with French President François Hollande, Erdogan gave a lecture and accused "those who try to portray ISIS as an Islamic organization...." Fortunately, he did not claim that ISIS was a Jewish organization.

But he said other things that must have appalled the Paris audience:

"Mind you, I am deliberately avoiding the use of the acronym ISIS (because it contains the word 'Islamic'). I use the name 'Daesh' because these are terrorists." Call it a slip of the tongue, but there is no such word or acronym as "Daesh." There is, though, "Daesh" ("ad-dawlah al-Islamiyah fil- Iraq wa ash-Sham"). Nice try by Erdogan, but not quite smart enough. The Arabic acronym "Daesh" also contains the word Islamic ("al-Islamiyah"). Erdogan may next time try a Sanskrit, Zulu, Swahili, Malagasy or Kx'a acronym for the jihadists, but they, too, by simple logic of acronyms, should contain the word "Islamic."

Erdogan's Paris lecture exhibited more interesting mental logic. The international media, he said, is engaged in systematic efforts to portray Turkey as a country that supports "Daesh." By all means, the Turkish president has every right to object to such portrayal no matter how unconvincingly. But Erdogan did not stop there. He said those media members were "virtually traitors!" And he left it to his audience to find out how foreign nationals could also be Turkish traitors.

It was vintage Erdogan. There is no Islamic terror. ISIS is not an Islamic organization and its name is not even ISIS; it is "Daesh." And foreign journalists are plotting treason against Turkey.

Burak Bekdil


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Why the Temple Mount Belongs to Jews and Israel - Ronn Torossian

by Ronn Torossian

tmIn Jerusalem, The Temple Mount is the historical location of the First and Second Temples, the holiest place in the world for Jews.  There have been disputes about the right of Jews to pray there – and it is absurd that anyone in the world can deny Jews the right of freedom of prayer in the State of Israel.

A week ago, American-born Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a leader of the movement encouraging Jews to pray at the Temple Mount, was shot by a Palestinian Arab assassin who objected to the idea of Jews praying on the Temple Mount.  The Palestinian Arabs continue to do all they can to deny Jews the right to live – and pray – in the Jewish State.  It is unacceptable – and Jews must have the right to pray at the Temple Mount. [Editor: It must be noted here that there are also reasons, according to Jewish law, that Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount is limited.]

Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the Zionist prophet, once asked, “Is a situation moral in which one side can commit any crime or murder and the other is forbidden to react?”  There must be a price for attacks upon Jews in Israel at the holiest site in Judaism – and amongst that price must be increased rights of Jews to pray. As Ricki Hollander has said,
“Jewish reverence for the Temple Mount long predates the building of the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque in the 7th century CE, and even predates the construction of the first Jewish Temple by King Solomon almost 2000 years earlier.”
There are so many meaningful reasons and quotes about the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount:

*  “There is very telling Jewish teaching about the Temple Mount, and that is: whoever controls the Mount, controls the world.” Yisrael Medad

*  “[The Temple Mount] is the only place in the country where you feel you’re discriminated against because you’re Jewish.” Eli Duker

*  “I want equal rights for Jews on the Temple Mount. What Muslims do, I want to do too.” Arnon Segal

*  “There is only one meaning to giving up the Temple Mount: the end of the State of Israel.” Ronen Shoval

*  “Although other parts of the Temple Mount retaining wall remain standing, the Western Wall is especially dear, as it is the spot closest to the Holy of Holies, the central focus of the Temple.” Rabbi Shraga Simmons

*  “This compound was our Temple Mount. Here stood our Temple during ancient time, and it would be inconceivable for Jews not to be able freely to visit this holy place now that Jerusalem is under our rule.” Defense Minister Moshe Dayan

*  “Islamist exclusivity has debased the Temple Mount. It’s time to return this holy site to its original inclusivity and allow anyone who wants to pray there respectfully to do so. That is the meaning of Jewish sovereignty and human dignity.” Moshe Dann

*  “According to the Talmud, the world was created from the foundation stone of the Temple Mount. It’s believed to be the biblical Mount Moriah, the location where Abraham fulfilled God’s test to see if he would be willing to sacrifice his son Isaac.” Aaron Klein

*  “But you cannot be a Zionist if you are prepared to yield the place that provides us with the moral, historic and religious right to this land – the Temple Mount.” Ronen Shoval

*  “It is the supposed site of Mt. Moriah, where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son Isaac, where the prophet Muhammad is believed to have ascended into heaven, and was the location of the first and second temples, Judaism’s most holy structures.” Jason Reuter

*  “Every Jew that goes to the Temple Mount puts another stone in the building of the Temple, and is making another step to fulfill Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount.” Moshe Feiglin

*  “Three times a day, for thousands of years, Jewish prayers from around the world have been directed toward the Temple Mount. Kabbalistic tradition says that all prayers from around the world ascend to this spot, from where they then ascend to heaven.” Rabbi Shraga Simmons

*  “We were not trying to demonstrate that it’s exclusively ours, or that we want the Muslims off, only that it’s a significant, if not the most significant Jewish site, archaeologically, historically, and religiously. This is the heart of it all.” Elli Fischer

*  “To compare the Temple Mount to Mount Olympus is to bring everything into focus.” Dr. Israel Eldad

*  “It is the Jewish root – the deepest roots that any people has. Elsewhere, we grope for insight.” Rabbi Shraga Simmons

*  “The Temple Mount has remained a focal point for Jewish services for thousands of years. Prayers for a return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple have been uttered by Jews since the Second Temple was destroyed, according to Jewish tradition.” Aaron Klein

*  “Jewish religious interest in the Mount is not monolithic, and includes those who merely want to visit a site of great Jewish importance, those who believe Jews should be allowed to pray there, those who believe Temple rituals, like sacrifice, should be renewed immediately, and those who support the construction of a Third Temple in place of the Islamic shrines of the Noble Sanctuary.” Matti Friedman

*  “Since Jews ascend it would not enter my mind to stop them from holding prayers services there.” Itzhak Nissim

*  “Despite the conventional wisdom that the Jewish people were banished from this holy site, the evidence suggests that Jews continued to maintain a strong connection to and frequently even a presence on the Temple Mount for the next two thousand years.” F.M. Loewenberg

As Yisrael Medad of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center has noted,
“Although the Temple Mount is important to both groups, only under Jewish rule have both religions been given access to the Temple Mount. Therefore, it must remain under Israeli rule.”
All of Jerusalem – including The Temple Mount – belongs to Israel.

Ronn Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and respected public relations experts.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

A Legal Precedent for Executive Amnesty? - Ian Smith

by Ian Smith

2329886714_0bfdbfbe73C-SPAN recently aired footage of the 11th annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference held every year at the Georgetown University Law Center just off Capitol Hill. The confab’s always a “who’s who” of the open-borders, anti-sovereignty movement, from the immigration lawyers lobby to Hispanic chauvinist groups, and past keynote speakers have included such border insecurity-stalwarts as Chuck Schumer and John McCain.

This year’s big panel was on the “legal precedents” supporting President Obama’s forthcoming amnesty, led by Marc Rosenblum of the Migration Policy Institute, a pro-open borders, Carnegie-funded outfit. Rosenblum helped craft the 2007 McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill and he’s advised Obama on immigration policy in the past. In other forums, he’s also described America as a “nation of nations,” presumably because he thinks the country should no longer be an actual nation unified by language, culture and history.

Norm Ornstein, resident leftist at the American Enterprise Institute and Rosenblum’s fellow panelist, was more open about his views on transforming America. When speaking about the GOP’s voter base (“old white men”), Ornstein informed the audience that “older white men are a group you cannot trust.” Although this is normal discourse for the contemporary Left, it should still be a red alert for those who resist balkanizing the nation – watch the video from 01:06:30; send your complaints to Georgetown University, AEI, and the SPLC.

Rosenblum’s pro-amnesty presentation was essentially a lecture to attendees (majority law students) on why we should ignore the immigration laws on our books should. He proceeded to “justify” Obama’s forthcoming amnesty by pointing out five previous “executive actions on immigration” going back to the 1960s, which gave some degree of discretion to federal agencies in the management of deportations. To people who actually know immigration law, however, Rosenblum’s presentation was close to fraudulent.

Left out of his powerpoint was that of the five executive actions picked, four were illegitimate power-grabs by federal agencies which were later restricted or completely culled by Congress and the other wasn’t even an executive program at all, but one implemented by Congress. Each are addressed below. Rosenblum’s list actually turns out to be very useful for pro-borders advocates, as it shows a historical pattern of Congress pushing back against programs created out of thin air by the executive.

As Rosenblum first notes, the executive has in the past exercised so-called “parole authority” as a sort of mass refugee program for whole groups of illegals, like after Castro’s takeover of Cuba in 1960 when thousands of Cubans illegally residing in the US were granted permission to stay. But as was recalled in a recent court filing by the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the INS’s use of group parole had been in violation of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, which grants parole only in isolated, case-by-case situations. In the words of the court of appeals for the second circuit, Congress therefore clamped down on the practice in 1980 with the Refugee Act and again in 1996 with the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) due to a “concern that parole … was being used by the executive to circumvent congressionally established immigration policy.”

Other programs justifying amnesty described by Rosenblum have followed a similar pattern. The still-current “Temporary Protected Status” (TPS) program, started in 1990, is basically a temporary refugee program that can apply to certain national groups when their country of origin becomes ravaged by war or suffers a natural disaster. But TPS was implemented by Congress, not the executive. In fact, Congress passed TPS in order to restrain the executive which had for years practiced a similar program on its own (through a program called “extended voluntary departure,” which Rosenblum also covered). Congress reacted by creating an “exclusive remedy” in the area of deportation-relief based on nationality, which was intended to tether by statute the executive’s potentially boundless application of deportation relief.

Another program Rosenblum uses, “deferred enforced departure,” merely sought to revive what the executive had been doing before TPS. The courts have described this program as essentially the same as TPS, although Obama extended deportation relief under the program to a group of Liberians living illegally in the US in 2011.

Finally, there’s “deferred action,” Rosenblum’s final justification for Obama’s unilateral amnesty. This program was an attempt by the executive to delegate to itself the authority to grant relief based on humanitarian reasons or reasons of convenience. Congress once again took back this authority with the 1996 passage of IIRIRA, and although DHS admitted in 2000 that the statute expunged deferred action, Obama cited it as an authority in 2012 when he unilaterally implemented the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program, which has twice been held unconstitutional in federal court and which was based on a bill (the DREAM Act) that was rejected 24 times in Congress.

Executive discretion for group-deportation relief has always been followed by Congress either rolling it back or regulating it under legislation according to Congress’s terms. That tension is now higher than it’s ever been.

Much of the motivation behind the executive actions Rosenblum lays out was probably explained as a natural power-grab from bureaucrats simply looking to expand their authority. But the motivation for amnesty today appears to be far more sinister. People like Obama, Rosenblum and Ornstein want to balkanize the nation, presumably out of distrust of “old white men.” And so serious is their drive toward this end, they’ll even ignore the letter and spirit of the law to get there.

Ian Smith


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Temple Mount through the Ages - F.M. Loewenberg

by F.M. Loewenberg

The claim that no Jewish temple ever existed in Jerusalem and that Jews have no rights whatsoever on the Temple Mount is part of the "temple denial" doctrine that has been increasingly internalized in Palestinian academic, religious, and political circles since the 1967 Six-Day War.[1] Others, both Jews and non-Jews, believe that a temple did exist but indicate that the Jews abandoned the area soon after the destruction of the Second Temple nearly two thousand years ago. From that time onward, Jews lost all direct contact with the Temple Mount and relocated their central worship site to other locations, such as the Mount of Olives and later the Western Wall.[2]

The facts do not support either of these claims. The destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70 C.E. did not spell the end of Jewish activities on the Temple Mount. For many centuries, Jews continued their attachment to the site by maintaining a physical presence on the mountain. And when they were prevented from doing so, they prayed three times a day for the speedy renewal of the sacrificial service in a restored temple.

Stones from the destroyed temple can be seen here. Contrary to what many believe, Jews did not abandon the Temple Mount after the temple's actual destruction in 70 C.E. There is even evidence that sacrifices continued for some time on a surviving altar. It was only after the Bar Kochba revolt (132-35 C.E.) that Jews were barred from the site and from Jerusalem by the victorious and vindictive Emperor Hadrian.
Both the first and second temples were located in a mountainous portion of Jerusalem that Jewish tradition identified with the biblical Mount Moriah, site of Abraham's attempted sacrifice of Isaac.[3] Over time, the site was referred to as the Temple Mount (Har Habayit), and it was here that Herod (r. 37-4 B.C.E.) transformed a relatively small structure into a wonder of the ancient world. However, the magnificent edifice he built stood for less than a hundred years; it was destroyed in 70 C.E., three years after a Jewish rebellion against Roman rule broke out.

The Jewish people's response to this cataclysmic event is in some sense the entire post-70 history of the Jews as they built institutions and created an entire culture that kept the people alive for millennia. But what role did the actual Temple Mount play in their lives after its physical destruction? Despite the conventional wisdom that the Jewish people were banished from this holy site, the evidence suggests that Jews continued to maintain a strong connection to and frequently even a presence on the Temple Mount for the next two thousand years. Even when they were physically prevented from ascending the site, their attachment to Har Habayit remained strong and vibrant.

Roman Rule (70-300)

Once the Jewish revolt had been put down, Jews were again permitted to visit the site of the former temple since the Romans generally did not object to the worship of local gods. As far as they were concerned, once the rebellion was suppressed, there was no longer any impediment to Jewish worship on the mount. Many stories in the Talmud testify to the fact that leading rabbis continued to pray on the now desolate Temple Mount.[4]

Ascent to the Temple Mount was not limited to rabbis; the people's attachment to the former sanctuary also remained very strong. One story relates that "Ben Zoma once saw a [large] crowd on one of the steps of the Temple Mount."[5]

The people continued to bring sacrifices that were offered on a Temple Mount altar that had survived the destructive fire by the Romans. The Mishnah, a central code of Jewish law codified in the early third century C.E., states that "one may offer sacrifices [on the place where the temple used to stand] even though there is no house [i.e., temple]."[6] Some rabbis held that the sacrificial services continued almost without interruption for sixty-five years following the temple's destruction while others suggest that sacrificial services ceased in 70 C.E. but were resumed for the 3-year period when Bar Kochba controlled Jerusalem.[7]

Not only did the Jews continue to offer sacrifices and prayer on the mount, but at least once in the half-century following the temple's destruction, they began to build a new edifice for a third temple. Emperor Hadrian (76-138), eager to gain the cooperation of the Jews, granted them permission to rebuild their temple. The Jews started to make the necessary preparations, but before long, Hadrian, at the instigation of the Samaritans, went back on his word and the project was stopped.[8]

Following the defeat of the Bar Kochba rebellion in 135 C.E., Jews were barred for the first time from the Temple Mount. The victorious and vindictive Emperor Hadrian ordered that the Temple Mount be ploughed under and issued strict orders prohibiting Jews from living in Jerusalem and from praying on the Temple Mount. As an alternative, Jews assembled for prayer on the Mount of Olives from whence they had an unobstructed view of the temple ruins. While this prohibition was strictly enforced during Hadrian's lifetime, Jews did pray on the Temple Mount at various times during the second and the third centuries because the prohibition was not always fully enforced. Some scholars question whether Hadrian's decree was ever legally formulated, but all agree that a policy of prohibiting Jews in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount was in effect.[9]

Byzantine Period (300-618)

The transformation of the pagan Roman Empire into a Christian realm early in the fourth century marked a decisive turning point in the history of the Western world. Under pagan rule, Jerusalem had become a relatively insignificant provincial city, but now it attracted many pilgrims who came to worship at Christian holy sites. A new church, the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, was built on the purported site of Jesus' crucifixion and became the city's central religious site. Until the Crusader conquest of the city eight centuries later, the importance of the Temple Mount was deliberately de-emphasized. Though many churches and other religious buildings were erected throughout the city at sites associated with the life of Jesus, only one or two were built on the Temple Mount. Until recently, it was widely believed that in the Byzantine period the Temple Mount was deliberately abandoned by Christians and turned into the local garbage dump[10] in order to fulfill the New Testament prediction that the temple would be totally destroyed and "not one stone will be left here upon another."[11] These views were challenged by the recent publication of suppressed archeological findings. The excavations, the only ones ever permitted on the Temple Mount by the Muslim waqf in modern times, were conducted by British archeologists in the 1930s. Under al-Aqsa mosque, they found evidence of a mosaic floor, dated to the fifth to seventh centuries, that was quite similar to floors of churches found in Bethlehem. Most likely they are remnants of a Byzantine church that was built on the Temple Mount—contrary to the accepted theories.[12]

Emperor Constantine (272-357) renewed the laws that prohibited Jews from living in or even visiting Christian Jerusalem, allowing access to the Temple Mount once a year on Tisha b'Av (the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av, the anniversary of the day the temples were destroyed).[13] In 333, the anonymous Pilgrim of Bordeaux described in some detail the desolate Temple Mount, noting a "perforated stone" (perhaps today's Foundation Stone found in the Dome of the Rock), which the Jews anointed with oil once a year on Tisha b'Av. On this day, he heard the Jews recite the Book of Lamentations on the Temple Mount and saw them tear their clothes as a sign of mourning.[14] Later Byzantine writers, including Jerome, corroborate that Jews continued these mourning practices on the actual Temple Mount.[15]

Constantine's nephew Julian, who became emperor in 361 C.E., turned his back on Christianity and issued an edict of universal religious toleration for all—pagans, Jews, and Christians. He reversed the ban against Jews in Jerusalem early in his reign.

In 363 C.E., Julian promised to help rebuild the temple in Jerusalem; among Diaspora Jews, his pledge was greeted with great enthusiasm[16] although some rabbis were apprehensive about the undertaking, hesitating to engage in building the Third Temple prior to the arrival of the messiah.[17] Julian, nonetheless, went ahead with the project and ordered the imperial treasury to make available large sums of money and building materials. Many Jews came to Jerusalem to assist the skilled craftsmen and masons in the removal of the existing foundation, the first step in the rebuilding project.

Christian residents of the city were vigorous in their opposition to any attempt to rebuild the temple. Many gathered in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to pray for the termination of the project. It would seem their prayers were answered since all work halted abruptly in the summer of 363; whether this was due to arson, an earthquake, or merely Julian's death on the Persian front is a matter of some dispute. Julian's successor, a devout Christian, immediately canceled the temple-rebuilding effort.[18]

By the latter part of the fourth century, the Temple Mount had disappeared completely from the landscape of Christian Jerusalem. The pilgrim Egeria who visited Jerusalem in the early 380s provided a detailed description of the city in letters to her friends, but she made no mention of the Temple Mount.[19] Similarly, the mosaic world map of Medaba from the mid-sixth century depicts Jerusalem in great detail but omits the Temple Mount altogether as does a seventh-century Armenian account of the city's holy places.[20]

Jews, on the other hand, never forgot the Temple Mount even when none of the original temple buildings remained standing. Wherever they lived, they faced Jerusalem three times every day and prayed for the restoration of the temple and the renewal of the sacrificial service.[21] Furthermore, there are indications that despite imperial bans, some Jews continued to pray on the Temple Mount. The late fourth-century sage Rabbi Bibi offered instructions to those who went to the Temple Mount to ensure their behavior would not degrade the holiness of the place.[22] A sixth-century aggadic work, Midrash Shir Hashirim Rabba, includes an instruction for Jews everywhere to face in the direction of the Temple Mount when praying, adding that "and those who pray on the Temple Mount should turn to the Holy of Holies,"[23] an injunction that only makes sense if the ban was not strictly enforced.

The Jewish people's continued attachment to the Temple Mount is exemplified by an event that occurred during the reign of the Roman Empress Eudocia (401-60). When she went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 438, she was greeted warmly by Jews everywhere, probably as a result of her policy of supporting non-Christians. When the leading rabbis asked her for permission to once again ascend the Temple Mount, she immediately agreed. Great excitement gripped the local Jewish leaders who sent letters to other communities throughout the world informing them of the good news and asking them to come on pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the coming Sukkot festival. More than 100,000 Jews came to Jerusalem that year, but once again, Jerusalem's Christians launched a violent protest and blocked access to the mountain.[24]

For almost two centuries after this incident, Jews were forbidden to live in Jerusalem. Until the Persian conquest in 618, Jerusalem was officially a city without Jews. This would change dramatically under the brief period of Persian rule and the subsequent, and far lengthier, era of Muslim hegemony.

For centuries, Persian and Roman (later Byzantine) armies had battled each other over the fringes of their respective empires. The invasion of Palestine by King Khosru II of Persia in 613-14 C.E. succeeded in briefly wresting control of Jerusalem from Constantinople. Khosru was aided by Babylonian Jewry who supplied 30,000 Jewish soldiers in return for a promise that they would participate in the capture of Jerusalem and that a Jewish governor would be appointed to rule over the city.[25] Once the city was captured, the Persians appointed Nehemiah ben Hushiel as governor, and the new governor lost no time in reestablishing the sacrificial service on the Temple Mount.

Rabbi Elazer Kalir, one of the earliest and most prolific of Jewish liturgical poets, confirms the restoration:
When Assyria [Persia] came to the city … and pitched his tents there / the holy people [Jews] were a bit relieved / because he permitted the reestablishment of the Temple / and they built there the holy altar / and offered upon it holy sacrifices / but they did not manage to build the Temple / because the Messiah had not yet come.[26]
But once again, this return to the Temple Mount was short-lived. Nehemiah was soon executed either out of fear of his messianic pretensions or because the support of the city's larger Christian population was preferred over that of the smaller number of Jews. In any event, in 629, only ten years after the conquest, the Persians lost control of the city to the Byzantines who were subsequently defeated by victorious Arab forces sweeping out of the desert.

Early Muslim Rule (638-1099)

Jerusalem was conquered by Arab forces in May 638, an accomplishment ascribed by Muslim sources to the Caliph Umar. In return for assistance in the taking of the city, the Jews received the right to reside in Jerusalem and to pray on the Temple Mount without interference.[27]

In 680, fifty years after Umar's conquest of Jerusalem, the Damascus-based Umayyad dynasty engaged in a struggle for control of the Muslim world with a rebel dynasty based in Mecca. The Umayyads opted to fight the rebels by damaging Mecca's economy, which was based almost entirely on revenues from Muslim pilgrims. Their secret weapon was to create a competing pilgrimage site by building a magnificent edifice, the Dome of the Rock, on the site of the destroyed Jewish temple and hoping that this mosque would weaken Mecca's economy by siphoning off pilgrims from Mecca. Thus, a political strategy designed to fight mutineers in far-off Mecca transformed Jerusalem's Temple Mount into a Muslim holy site with far-reaching implications to this day.

But the metamorphosis of the Temple Mount into Islam's third holiest site did not result in a total exclusion of Jews from the location. Soon after the Muslim conquest, Jews received permission to build a synagogue on the Temple Mount. Perhaps the wooden structure that was built over the Foundation Stone was first intended for a synagogue, but even before it was completed, the site was expropriated by the city's rulers. The Jews received another site on the mount for a synagogue in compensation for the expropriated building.[28] Most probably there was an active synagogue on the Temple Mount during most of the early Muslim period.[29] Solomon ben Jeroham, a Karaite (a medieval Jewish sectarian) exegete who lived in Jerusalem between 940 and 960, affirmed that Jews were permitted to pray on the Temple Mount, noting that "the courtyards of the Temple were turned over to them and they prayed there [on the Temple Mount] for many years."[30]

Al-Aqsa Mosque (the Furthest Mosque), the second mosque on the Temple Mount, was built in 715 and was linked to a Muslim legend, based on an ambiguous verse in the Qur'an concerning Muhammad's night journey to heaven.[31] In this way, the Umayyads cleverly associated Muhammad's life with Jerusalem even though the prophet died years before the city's capture by the Muslims. This construction further cemented the site's holiness to Islam. Nonetheless, during this first phase of Islamic governance, Muslim rulers were generally tolerant of Jewish activities on the mountain. Whenever a more intolerant ruler assumed control of the city, Jews were forbidden from praying on the mount but instead worshipped at one of the many Temple Mount gates; an eleventh-century document found in the geniza or storeroom of a Cairo synagogue describes the circuit followed by the pilgrims and the prayers they recited at each of the gates.[32]

After the conquest of Jerusalem by the army of the Fatimid dynasty (969), a Temple Mount synagogue was rebuilt and used until the Jews were banished by Caliph al-Hakim in 1015. When a subsequent ruler canceled Hakim's eviction order, the Jews again returned to this synagogue on the Temple Mount and worshipped there until the conquest of Jerusalem by the Crusaders. Hebrew writings found on the internal walls of the Golden Gate are believed to have been written by Jewish pilgrims at least one thousand years ago,[33] thus testifying once again to the continued Jewish attachment to and presence on the Temple Mount in this era.

Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (1099-1187)

The early Arab rulers of Jerusalem for the most part did not destroy or confiscate any of the city's churches. Although charged an entrance toll, Christian pilgrims continued to visit their sacred shrines. This religious tolerance came to an end when the Seljuk Turks swarmed out of Central Asia in the latter part of the eleventh century and captured Jerusalem in 1071. Assaults on pilgrims and attacks on churches became commonplace. As reports of these anti-Christian activities reached Europe, Pope Urban II in 1095 demanded that Christians rescue the Holy Land from the "infidel," an appeal that resulted in the First Crusade.

Within hours of breaching the walls of Jerusalem in 1099, the victorious Crusaders had massacred almost all of the city's Jewish and Muslim inhabitants.[34] The Crusaders ascended the Temple Mount and after giving thanks to God for their victory, converted the mosques into churches, renaming the Dome of the Rock the Temple of God (Templum Domini) and al-Aqsa Mosque, the Temple of Solomon (Templum Solomnis). The mount was declared off-limits to all non-Christians and became the center of religious and civil life in Crusader Jerusalem.[35]

Despite the prohibition, Jews continued to ascend the mount even during the Crusader period. The prominent medieval Jewish commentator and leader Maimonides (1135-1204) wrote in a letter in 1165 that he "entered the Great and Holy House [and] prayed there."[36] The Jewish traveler, Benjamin of Tudela, who visited Jerusalem sometime between 1159 and 1172, also recorded Jews praying "in front of the Western Wall [of the Dome of the Rock],[37] one of the [remaining] walls of what was once the Holy of Holies."[38] Thus, even in one of the darkest and most intolerant periods of Jewish history, the faithful did not abandon the Temple Mount.

A Medieval Dispute

Less than a century later, the Kurdish Muslim warrior Saladin regained control of the city, thus putting an end to the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem in October 1187. Even though the Temple Mount was re-consecrated as a Muslim sanctuary, Saladin permitted both Jews and Muslims to settle in Jerusalem and to worship on the Temple Mount. The Muslim authorities permitted Jews to erect a synagogue on the site[39] although the situation vacillated over the next few centuries. For example, Saladin, who at first had urged Jews to come back to Jerusalem, a few years later forbade them to go on the Temple Mount. From the late thirteenth century to the mid-nineteenth, the mountain was, for the most part, off-limits to Jews with occasional interludes of access.

During the first millennium following the destruction of the Second Temple, Jews did not hesitate to ascend the mount, but by the Middle Ages, two distinct halakhic (Jewish religious law) views on the permissibility of doing so had crystallized. The dispute centered largely on issues of the degrees of holiness associated with the areas where the temple once stood and on whether Jews who could no longer attain ritual purity might inadvertently enter the location of the former temple. According to most rabbinic authorities, in the first centuries after the temple's destruction, it was permissible to walk on the Temple Mount because the ashes of the Red Heifer, which were necessary for attaining ritual purity, were still available.[40] But by the medieval period, these ashes were no longer available, and thus prevented Jews from achieving ritual purity. Under these circumstances, Maimonides taught, "Even though the Temple is in ruins today due to our sins, everyone is obligated to revere it like when it was standing … one is not permitted to enter any place that is forbidden."[41] On the other hand, Rabbi Avraham ben David of Provence [Raavad] (c.1125-98), the author of critical glosses on Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, concluded that "one who enters [the Temple Mount] nowadays does not receive the penalty of karet [literally, cutting off]."[42] Though there are various interpretations of the meaning of Raavad's gloss, he probably held that the Temple Mount without a temple no longer had its original holiness.

In the subsequent halakhic literature, the vast majority of rabbinical authorities "built a fence around" Maimonides' conclusion and forbade entering any part of the Temple Mount, fearing that some might inadvertently enter a forbidden area. Of the classical authorities, only Rabbi Menachem Meiri (1249-1316), a noted French Talmudic scholar, expressed the view that in his days it was permissible for Jews to enter the Temple Mount.[43]

And yet Jewish attachment to this ruined site persisted. In 1211, three hundred European rabbis, mostly from England and France, embarked for the Holy Land. One, Rabbi Shmuel ben R. Shimshon, wrote about his visit to the Temple Mount.[44] Early in the fourteenth century, Rabbi Ishtori Haparchi (1280-1366) wrote in his halakhic and geographic book Kaftor ve-Ferah about an earlier rabbinic ruling that urged people to come to Jerusalem and offer sacrifices on the Temple Mount.[45] While nothing apparently came of these plans, it is significant that a noted authority of the period could contemplate such an act, despite the self-imposed rabbinic ban. Toward the end of the Mamluk period, there is evidence from the chief rabbi of Jerusalem, David ben Shlomo Ibn Zimra (1479-1573), who wrote that the city's Jews regularly went to the Temple Mount in order to view the entire temple ruins and pray there. He added that "we have not heard or seen anyone object to this."[46]

The Ottoman Empire (1516-1856)

With the Ottoman conquest of Jerusalem in 1516, the relationship between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount entered a new phase. Sultan Suleiman I (the Magnificent, 1494-1566) ordered the rebuilding of the city's walls and encouraged many European Jews, especially those who had been expelled from Spain and Portugal a generation earlier, to settle in the Holy City. Suleiman also instructed his court architect to prepare a place for Jewish prayer in an alley at the bottom of the Western retaining wall of the Temple Mount because he had prohibited all non-Muslims from entering any part of the Temple Mount. A royal decree was issued that guaranteed for all times the right of Jews to pray at this Western Wall in compensation for the Jews' relinquishing their legal rights to pray on the mount itself.[47]

Subsequent Ottoman rulers invested little effort in the upkeep of the Dome of the Rock or al-Aqsa Mosque. There are no records of important Muslim clerics or kings or even large crowds of ordinary Muslims praying on the Temple Mount.[48] Even those rabbinical authorities, who agreed in theory with the precedents that permitted ascent, hedged their rulings in view of the actual situation on the ground. Rabbi Yosef Di'Trani, who visited Jerusalem during the 1590s, noted that there were locations on the southern and eastern sides of the Temple Mount where Jews could walk freely without any concern of entering a prohibited area, but he ruled that Jews should, nonetheless, avoid going there because they were not ritually clean. In the nineteenth century, students of the rabbinical giant, the Vilna Gaon, arrived in Jerusalem and became the prototype of today's ultra-Orthodox haredi community. The leader of this group, Rabbi Yisrael of Shklov (d. 1839), held that though there were areas on the Temple Mount that they were allowed to enter, Jews were, nevertheless, forbidden to ascend as the exact location of these permitted areas was in some doubt.[49] This ruling became the normative position of the Orthodox world for the next 150 years. Despite rabbinical decrees prohibiting access to the mountain and the death penalty threat for any Jew caught on the mountain, the deep-seated Jewish attachment to the Temple Mount remained strong. An unknown number of Jews ascended the mountain surreptitiously during these centuries. No records were kept of these visits because of their clandestine nature, but occasional references in Muslim court records and travelers' accounts give evidence of their occurrence.[50]

Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

In the aftermath of the Crimean War (1853-56), the Temple Mount was opened daily (except on Fridays) to all visitors, regardless of their religion—a concession demanded by the victorious British. Nevertheless, the Jerusalem rabbis again issued a decree prohibiting Jews from going up, threatening to put any Jew who ignored their ruling under the ban, a form of rabbinical excommunication from the community. While the vast majority of Jews abided by the decree, many ignored it, including prominent visitors, such as Sir Moses Montefiore and Baron Edmond de Rothschild. Many of the new secular settlers also disregarded the rabbinical instructions and visited the site.[51]

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935), the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of the Jewish community in Mandatory Palestine, repeatedly prohibited entering any part of the Temple Mount, a position also reiterated by his successor Rabbi Isaac Herzog (1888-1959). Herzog testified in 1938 before the British Partition Committee that Jews were not allowed to go onto the Temple Mount until the coming of the messiah.

Just before the outbreak of the 1948 War of Independence, Herzog instructed Gen. David Shaltiel, the Jerusalem sector commander of the Jewish underground forces, that should his forces capture the Temple Mount, they should make every effort to expel all enemy soldiers, but once they had accomplished this task they were to leave the Temple Mount as quickly as possible because of the holiness of the place. These instructions became moot since the Jordanian army succeeded in occupying all of the Old City, including the Temple Mount. For the next nineteen years, no Jew was allowed to approach the Western Wall or the Temple Mount despite provisions in the Jordan-Israel armistice agreement that called for free access to all holy places.


In June 1967, on the second day of the Six-Day War, Israeli paratroopers entered Jerusalem's Old City and made their way to the Temple Mount; Col. Mordechai Gur, the brigade's commander, soon broadcast a momentous message to the Israeli nation: "The Temple Mount is [again] in our hands." For the first time in almost two thousand years, the Temple Mount was under the control of a sovereign Jewish people.

Gur ordered three paratroopers to climb to the top of the Dome of the Rock and unfurl an Israeli flag over it; four hours later Defense Minister Moshe Dayan ordered the flag taken down. This order initiated a schizophrenic diplomatic and political state of affairs that continues to this day.

Dayan proclaimed that, henceforth, there would be unrestricted Jewish access to the Temple Mount.
This compound was our Temple Mount. Here stood our Temple during ancient time, and it would be inconceivable for Jews not to be able freely to visit this holy place now that Jerusalem is under our rule.[52]
Rabbi Shlomo Goren, Israel Defense Forces chief rabbi at that time, was among the first soldiers to appear on the Temple Mount and described his activities on that historic day:
When we arrived on the Temple Mount, I blew the shofar, fell on the ground and prostrated myself in the direction of the Holy of Holies, as was customary in the days when the Temple still stood. … [Later] I found General Moti Gur sitting in front of the Omar Mosque. He asked me if I wanted to enter, and I answered him that today I had issued a ruling permitting all soldiers to enter because soldiers are obligated to do so on the day when they conquer the Temple Mount in order to clear it of enemy soldiers and to make certain that no booby traps were left behind. … I took along a Torah scroll and a shofar and we entered the building. I think that this was the first time since the destruction of the Temple almost two thousand years ago that a Torah scroll had been brought into the holy site which is where the Temple was located. Inside I read Psalm 49, blew the shofar, and encircled the Foundation Stone with a Torah in my hand. Then we exited.[53]
Some weeks later Rabbi Goren established a synagogue and study hall, as well as his office, on the Temple Mount and held organized study and prayers on the site. But within days, Goren's efforts were brought to a halt. At the behest of Dayan, the Israeli government prohibited Rabbi Goren from undertaking any further activities on the mount.[54]

As a result of another government decision that same year, the general public, including Jews and Christians, was allowed to visit the Temple Mount without hindrance but not to pray there. Many visitors have taken advantage of this permission, but most observant Jews continued to follow the instructions of the chief rabbinate, which prohibit Jews from entering the mount because of the issue of ritual impurity. A small number of rabbis have followed Rabbi Goren's plea to permit and encourage Jews to visit those areas on the Temple Mount that do not require complete ritual purity.

At the outbreak of "al-Aqsa intifada" in September 2000, the Temple Mount was closed to all non-Muslims because it was feared that the area might become a tinderbox of clashes with Palestinians. The mount was reopened to non-Muslims in August 2003, but visiting hours were severely curtailed with the authority of the waqf (Islamic religious endowment), the Muslim custodians of the Temple Mount, increasing in significance. During certain hours, Jews and Christians are allowed to go up to the mount but only if they conform to a strict set of guidelines, including a ban on prayer and bringing any "holy objects" to the site. Visitors are forbidden from entering any of the mosques without direct waqf permission; rules are enforced by waqf agents, who watch tourists closely and alert nearby Israeli police to any infractions. Thus despite the fact that the Israeli parliament passed laws ensuring freedom of worship to all at every holy site, Jewish prayer on any part of the Temple Mount continues to be prohibited.


Even after the Roman armies destroyed the temple in 70 C.E., the Jews never abandoned the site. No matter what obstacles or decrees others placed in their way, Jews continued to ascend and pray at or near the area where their temple once stood.

Whenever their physical presence on the mountain was outlawed, they selected alternate prayer sites, such as the Mount of Olives from where the Temple Mount could be seen. In more recent times, the Western Wall served as such an alternative. But even during those periods, Jews attempted, legally or otherwise, to go up unto the mountain to pray. In recent decades, despite the opposition of the Muslim waqf and the Jewish chief rabbinate, the number of Jews going up on the Temple Mount in order to pray has increased year-by-year.[55]

Against this backdrop, the continued denial that Jews have any connection with the Temple Mount cannot but pose a formidable obstacle to a settlement of the Arab-Israel conflict.
F. M. Loewenberg is a professor emeritus at Bar-Ilan-University and lives in Efrat, Israel.
[1] David Barnett, "The Mounting Problem of Temple Denial," Meria Journal, June 2011. [2] Eli Schiller, Kipat ha-Sela Even Hash'tiya (Jerusalem: Ariel, 1976), pp. 19-28. [3] Rashi's comment on the Babylonian Talmud (hereafter, BT), Pesachim 88a. [4] See BT, Makkot 24b; BT, Shabbat 15a; BT, Rosh Hashanah 31a; BT, Sanhedrin 11b; BT, Avoda Zara 20a. [5] BT, Berakhot 58a; see, also, Mordechai Fogelman, Beit Mordechai (Jerusalem: Mossad Harav Kook, 2009), p. 205. [6] Mishnah (M) Eduyot 8.6; see also Maimonides, Hilkhot Bet Ha-bechira 6.15. [7] M Eduyot 8.6; Maimonides, Hilkhot Bet Ha-bechira 6.15; Ha'emek Davar commentary on Leviticus 26.31. [8] Genesis Rabba 64.10. [9] Oded Irshai, "Ha-issur shehetil Konstantinus Hagadol al k'nissat Yehudim Lirushalayim," Zion, 60 (1996), pp. 129-78; J. Rendel Harris, "Hadrian's decree of expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem," Harvard Theological Review, 19 (1926), pp. 199-206. [10] Galyn Wiemers, "Jerusalem 101: An introduction to the city of Jerusalem," Generation Word, West Des Moines, Iowa., accessed Apr. 24, 2013. [11] Matthew 24:2, Mark 13:2, Luke 21:6. [12] Etgar Lefkovits, "Was the Aksa Mosque built over the remains of a Byzantine church?" Jerusalem Post, Nov. 16, 2008; Leen Ritmeyer, "Third Jewish Mikveh and a Byzantine Mosaic Floor Discovered on the Temple Mount," Ritmeyer Archeological Design, Nov. 17, 2008; Israel Hayom (Tel Aviv), June 29, 2012. [13] Irshai, "Ha-issur shehetil Konstantinus Hagadol al k'nissat Yehudim Lirushalayim," pp. 129-78. [14] Michael Avi-Yonah, The Jews of Palestine: A Political History from the Bar Kokhba War to the Arab Conquest (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1984), p. 81; Menachem Elon, Temple Mount Faithful-Amutah et al v. Attorney-General, et al., in the Supreme Court Sitting as the High Court of Justice, Sept. 23, 1993, in Catholic University Law Review, Spring 1996, pp. 890-2. [15] Jerome's commentary on Zephaniah 1.6. [16] Ephraem the Syrian, Bibliothek der Kirchenväter, A. Rücker, trans., 20 (1919), First Song, p. 16; Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio V contra Julianum, 4 (GCS 35), c. 668. [17] Philostorgius, Historia ecclesiastica, Joseph Bidez, ed. (Berlin: Winkelman and Friedhelm, 1972), p. 297. [18] Avi-Yonah, The Jews of Palestine, pp. 196-200; Gunter Stemberger, Jews and Christians in the Holy Land—Palestine in the Fourth Century (Edinburgh: Clark, 2000), p. 208; Robert Panella, "The Emperor Julian and the God of the Jews," Koinonia, 23 (1999), pp. 15-31; Kenneth W. Russell, "The Earthquake of May 19, AD 363," The Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, Spring 1980, pp. 47-64; David B. Levenson, "The ancient and medieval sources for the Emperor Julian's attempt to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple," The Journal for the Study of Judaism, 4 (2004), pp. 409-60. [19] M. L. McClure and C. L. Feltoe, ed. and trans., The Pilgrimage of Etheria (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1919). [20] E. W. Brooks, "An Armenian Visitor to Jerusalem in the Seventh Century," English Historical Review, 11(1896), pp. 93-7. [21] JT, Berakhot 2.4(17a), Midrash Tanchuma Ki Tavo 1. [22] BT, Berakhot 62b. [23] Midrash Shir Hashirim Rabba 4. [24] Michael Gaddis, There Is No Crime for Those Who Have Christ: Religious Violence in the Christian Empire (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), p. 246; Kenneth Holum, Theodosian Empresses (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), p. 217. [25] Some scholars question the existence of this treaty. See, Elisabeth Campagner, "Eine jüdische Apokalypse des 7. Jahrhunderts? Kaiser Heraklius als Antichrist?" Internet Zeitschrift fur Kulturwissenschaft, Sept. 5, 2002, pp. 1-43. [26] Ezra Fleischer, "L'pitaron sh'elat z'mano u'makom p'ulato shel R' Elazar Biribi Kilir," Tarbiz, 54 (1985), p. 401. [27] Jacob Mann, The Jews in Egypt and in Palestine under the Fatimid Caliphate (Ithaca: Cornell University Library, 1920), vol. 2, pp. 188-9; Ben-Zion Dinor (Dinaburg), "Bet Tefila u'midrash l'yehudim al har habayit bi'mey ha'aravim," Zion, 3 (1929), pp. 54-87. [28] "The riddle of the Dome of the Rock: Was it built as a Jewish place of prayer?" The Voice of the Temple Mount Faithful (Jerusalem), Summer 2001; Abraham Benisch, trans., Travels of Rabbi Petachia of Ratisbon (London: The Jewish Chronicle Office, 1856); Robert Bedrosian, trans., Sebeos' History of Armenia (New York: Sources of the Armenian Tradition, 1985), chap. 31. [29] Dinor, "Bet Tefila u'midrash l'yehudim al har habayit bi'mey ha'aravim," pp. 54-87; for another view, see Jacob Mann, Texts and Studies in Jewish History and Literature (New York: Ktav Publisher, 1970), vol. 1, pp. 313-5. [30] Solomon ben Jeroham, comment on Psalm 30, cited by Shlomo Goren, Sefer Har Habayit, rev. ed. (Jerusalem: Ha-idra Rabba, 2004), p. 314. [31] Qur. 17.1. [32] Dan Bahat, "Identification of the Gates of the Temple Mount and the 'Cave' in the Early Muslim Period," Catedra, 106 (2002), pp. 61-86; Abraham Ya'ari, ed., Igarot Eretz Yisrael (Tel Aviv: Gazit, 1943), pp. 48-53. [33] Shulamit Gera, "Ha-ketuvot b'otiot ivri'ot b'sha'ar harahamim," Catedra, 61 (1991), pp. 176-81. [34] Salo Wittmayer Baron, A Social and Religious History of the Jews, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1957), vol. 4, p. 109; Hamilton Alexander Rosskeen Gibb, The Damascus Chronicle of the Crusades: Extracted and Translated from the Chronicle of Ibn Al-Qalanisi (Mineola, N.Y.: Dover, 2003), p. 48. [35] Thomas Madden, The New Concise History of the Crusades (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), p. 212; Baron, A Social and Religious History of the Jews, p. 109. [36] R. Elazar Ezkari, Sefer Haredim (Mitzvah 83); Yitzhak Shilat, "B'niyat Bet Knesset b'Har Habayit B'yameinu," Tehumin 7, 1986, pp. 489-512. [37] The Western Wall Benjamin described was not the present Western Wall (which did not become a site for prayer until the sixteenth century) but the ruins of the western wall of the Second Temple building on the Temple Mount. [38] Benjamin of Tudela, The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela (Jerusalem: Hebrew University, 1960), pp. 20-4. [39] Emil Offenbacher, "Prayer on the Temple Mount," Jerusalem Quarterly, 36 (1985), p. 134. [40] Eliezer Brodt, "Eimatai paska taharat afar para aduma," Tradition Seforim Blog, 2009. [41] Maimonides, Hilchot Beit Habechira 7:7. [42] Raavad's gloss on Maimonides, Hilchot Beit Habechira 6:14. [43] Menachem Meiri, Beit Habechira on BT, Shavuot 16a. [44] Ya'ari, Igarot Eretz Yisrael, p. 78. [45] Ishtori Haparchi, Kaftor v'Ferah, J. Blumenfeld, ed. (New York: Beit Hillel, 1958), p. 214, n. 17. [46] Responsa of the Radbaz, vol. 2, no. 691; Tuvya Sagiv, "Ha-knissa l'Har Habayit—T'shuvat Haradbaz," in Yehuda Shaviv, ed., Kumo v'Na'aleh (Alon Shvut: Machon Tzomet, 2003), pp. 46-81. [47] Joseph Schwartz, Geography of Palestine, I. Leeser, trans. (Philadelphia: A. Hart, 1850), p. 260. [48] Manfred R. Lehmann, "The Moslem Claim to Jerusalem Is False," Algemeiner Journal, Aug. 19, 1994. [49] Israel of Shklov, P'at Hashulchan, H. Eretz Yisrael (Ramat Gan: Re'ut, 2000), sect. 3:11-12; idem, Bet Yisrael commentary (Safed: n.p., 1836), subsec. 26. [50] Amnon Cohen, Jews in Moslem Religious Courts: 16th Century (Jerusalem: Ben Tzvi, 1993), doc. 104, May 4, 1551, pp. 114-5, doc 107, May 19, 1554, p. 117; Schwartz, Geography of Palestine, pp. 417-8. [51] Dotan Goren, "Ha-aliya l'Har habayit ul'Makom ha-Mikdash b'tram ha-medina," E-mago, 2007. [52] Moshe Dayan, Story of My Life (New York: Morrow and Company, 1976), p. 390. [53] Shlomo Goren, "Selection from Personal Diary on the Conquest of Jerusalem," cited in Shabbaton, no. 422, May 29, 2009. [54] Yoel Cohen, "The Political Role of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate in the Temple Mount Question," Jewish Political Studies Review, Spring 1999, p. 108; Goren, Sefer Har Habayit, pp. 30-3. [55] Matti Friedman, "On the Temple Mount, a battle brews over Jewish prayer," Times of Israel, Mar. 12, 2013.

F.M. Loewenberg is a professor emeritus at Bar-Ilan-University and lives in Efrat, Israel.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.