In life, when opportunity knocks many fail to grab it, often letting it slip fluidly from their as yet still loose grasp. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, does not belong to this category. When, on October 12, 6 UNESCO nations submitted a resolution concerning East Jerusalem, condemning Israel for aggressions against freedom of worship and restricting Muslim access to their religious sites, he made sure to pounce with the agility of political panther, seizing his prey with both hands in a viselike gripe. Ever ready to clarify his role as supreme spokesman and protector of the Jewish People, he was the first out of the gate to roundly condemn the resolution, characterizing the resolution as belonging to, “The theater of the absurd…” The prime minister and his governments’ response to the resolution has been, in the words of Israeli journalist Barak Ravid, “…predictable, but its scope and intensity were surprising.”
One is left to ask the question. How can it be that Benjamin Netanyahu, an avowed secular Jew (except when it’s politically expedient to play otherwise), would be so outraged over a supposed denial of the Jewish connection to the Har Habayis (Temple Mount) and other Holy sites? Has some latent religious sentiment surfaced deep from the recesses of his subconscious or is there perhaps another motive lurking just beneath the surface? Though the storm of protest emanating from those who are more inclined to the Zionist position has insisted that this is an issue of denying the very identity of the Jewish people, the Israeli Prime Minister’s own words point to somewhat less noble notion. In a statement he declared that, "To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China…” Using this iconic landmark for his public relations campaign is actually quite fitting, even when one ignores the fact that this statement sums up his view of the Temple Mount as nothing more than a tourist attraction. The Great Wall is essentially a massive tomb, the last resting place for thousands if not millions of conscripted Chinese slaves who were forced to build this border fortification at an often super human pace. Though designed as a first line of defense, it’s construction demanded an astronomical price in terms of human suffering.
Mr. Netanyahu, as an idealogical heir to Zionism, is following in the footsteps of his predecessors who followed a similar approach to that of the Great Wall. Though claiming to build a fortress and safe haven for Jews against the dangers of Anti-Semitism, they have created a veritable cemetery for Jewry and others, costing the lives of over 30,000 Jews alone since the founding of the State of Israel.
Though claiming to defend the rights of Jews throughout the world, his statements omit an essential fact. The resolution doesn’t question the historical ties of Jews to the Temple Mount. Though it does accentuate the Muslim significance of this site, that can only be expected considering the fact that all six nations who submitted it are predominately Muslim countries. A level headed individual would simply view it as one group within a coalition of nations voicing their concerns and advocating for a specific goal. This resolution has no more to do with denying or confirming the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount than a referendum concerning increasing the legal driving age in Oregon has to do with proposed budget cuts in New York. In fact, in no less than two places does the resolution make mention of the strong connection that the site has to all three monotheistic faiths, confirming not only the connection to the Temple Mount but also to the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb. Leaving one to ask: what is the actual cause of this eruption of public outrage, started by Mr. Netanyahu?
If Bibi were to put UNESCO in the spotlight, twisting its' wording and creating implications that aren’t supported by the text, he could easily cast himself as a defender of worldwide Jewry and thereby grant himself powers to be the mouthpiece for their (or his) interests. He’s been insinuating, none too subtly, that if Jews don’t follow him, their self-appointed defender, then their rights will be trampled on in all areas of life.
Benjamin Netanyahu skillfully played the resolution as an attempt to deny Jewish identity which is, many claim, essentially denying that Jews have rights, making them more vulnerable to abuse. But again, the Prime Minister’s own words on his official Twitter account reveal the depth of feeling he has for the Temple Mount: "What's next? A UNESCO decision denying the connection between peanut butter and jelly? Rock and roll?”
Mr. Netanyahu’s relationship with the Temple Mount in particular and Judaism in general is summed up in those few sentences. That of pop culture icons. According to his line of thought, just as you can’t have America without apple pie, you cannot have Israel without the Temple Mount. A place of unparalleled sanctity for millions has been reduced to the status of a national pasttime, such as baseball.
As all legitimate rabbinical authorities throughout the ages have unequivocally stated, it is 100% forbidden for a Jew to step foot on the Temple Mount under any circumstances. Exactly a year ago to the day from when the UNESCO resolution was submitted, Jerusalem’s rabbinical court, the Edah HaCharedis, issued the following statement:
“Trembling has seized us as nationalist movements are once again attempting to ascend the Temple Mount, and to campaign for free Jewish entrance to the Temple Mount. Already back in 1967, the members of our Rabbinical Court, of blessed memory, warned in the name of the Torah that it is a severe and grave sin to enter the Temple Mount nowadays, and that whoever (Jewish) enters the Temple grounds is liable to Divine punishment. They repeated this admonition many times over the years, and all great rabbis, both in the Holy Land and abroad, ruled similarly. Now we have come to reiterate this ban, and we declare that the Torah cannot be changed.”
Still, this is not even the most fundamental aspect of the issue. Contrary to the rantings of Bibi and his yes-men, Torah authorities throughout the ages have made clear in no uncertain terms that the Temple Mount’s holiness in no way hinges upon who maintains control of the land on which it rests. It was Holy, is Holy and will remain Holy no matter who exercises authority over it. When righteous Jews throughout the long exile raised their hearts and lips in prayer to The One Above, focusing their minds on the Holy visage of Jerusalem, it made no difference whatsoever if the authorities who maintained political sovereignty over the Holy Land at the time were Byzantines or Umayyads or Ottomans. Jerusalem remained Jerusalem and the Temple Mount remained the Temple Mount. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s caterwauling over perceived religious injustices is no more than a front to continue his settlement agenda, amongst other goals. This PR campaign is just another brick added to the Zionist mausoleum known as the State of Israel.
True Torah Jews feels it appropriate to declare our position and that of Torah Jewry by publishing a part of Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld’s, ztk”l, letter to the Gentile populace of the Holy Land in 1929:
“The Jews do not want, in any way, to take that which isn't theirs. And they certainly don't want to contest the rights of the other inhabitants to the places held by them in which they regard with honor and consider Holy. And in particular there is no foundation to the rumor that the Jews want to acquire the "Temple Mount". On the contrary, from the time that, because of our sins, we were exiled from our land, and our Holy Temple was destroyed, and we have been lacking the purity required by the Torah, it is forbidden for any man of Israel to set foot upon the grounds of the "Temple Mount.” (TRUTH & PEACE)”