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Deputy Ministers Call to Permit Jewish Prayer on the Temple Mount
By Israel Arutz 7 Hebrew article
Jul 21, 2013 - 7:00:22 AM

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  • (Translated from Arutz 7 Hebrew article)

At the closing ceremony of the Tisha be-Av march, deputy ministers called for a Jewish return to the Temple Mount. The Deputy Minister of Religious Services revealed: We are preparing regulations that will permit Jewish prayer on the Mount

The Tisha be-Av march in Jerusalem Monday night was an impressive success. Thousands of marchers from throughout Israel participated in the event, that has become a tradition these past nineteen years, a tradition that was initiated and organized by Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar, the heads of the Women in Green movement.

Deputy Minister of Defense Danny Danon, Deputy Minister of Religious Services Eli Ben-Dahan, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Zeev Elkin, the chairman of Professors for a Strong Israel Arieh Eldad, the chairman of the United Jerusalem Party Arieh King, Rabbi Yosef Mendelovich, and additional public figures and rabbis took part in the impressive event.

The event began with the reading of the Book of Lamentations in Independence Park in the center of Jerusalem. The march set out from there, with masses of marchers bearing Israeli flags, around the walls of the Old City, with security provided by the accompanying police officers and Border Police.

The march maintained perfect order, despite the attempts by groups of Arabs to create provocations, as they called out defamatory remarks and "Allah Akbar." The many security forces in the area responded quickly and efficiently.

Close to 11 p.m., the masses of participants reached Lion's Gate, where the concluding ceremony was held, in which the individuals who led the entire march spoke.

Katsover: It is inconceivable that on Tisha be-Av night, we would not be permitted to go up on the Temple Mount, while the Muslims have the entire Mount at their disposal.

The speeches were opened by Yehudit Katsover, one of the heads of Women in Green: "We are here at Lion's Gate, through which the liberators of Jerusalem entered and elevated the honor of the Jewish people. Motta Gur shouted over the radio 'The Temple Mount is in our hands!' and turned to his troops: 'When the Temple Mount was conquered by the Greeks - the Maccabees liberated it. The Zealots and Bar-Kokhba fought against the destroyers of the Second Temple. For about two thousand years the Temple Mount was forbidden to Jews, until you, the paratroopers, came here and restored it to the bosom of the nation.'"

Katsover added: "Jerusalem is not like any other city in the world, Jerusalem is the beating heart of Eretz Israel, it is the beating heart of the Jewish people. All the memories, all the pains, all the prayers of thousands of years of Jewish history, all are anchored in Jerusalem. There is no other city for which people have longed, to which they prayed, for which they pined, for which they cried, for which they gave their lives, for thousands of years. It is only when Jerusalem is viewed in this perspective can we understand the depth of our commitment to it, how the soldiers felt, for what they sacrificed their lives.

"The joy was short-lived. The first retreat was on the Temple Mount. Not in Sinai, not at Ofira, not at Yamit, and not at Gush Katif, but at the Temple Mount, when Moshe Dayan took down the Israeli flag and gave the keys to the Temple Mount to the Wakf, some four hours after the victory. We have come a long way through the united city that teems with life. We cannot remain unmoved by the force and beauty of this breathtaking city, by its neighborhoods, by its institutions, by the National Quarter, but we lack the 'city of the king' [Psalms 48:3] - the Temple Mount is not in our hands. It is inconceivable that on Tisha be-Av night, the night on which we weep for the destruction of the two Temples, of the House of the Lord, in sovereign Jerusalem, Jews can go only to the Western Wall, while the Muslims have the entire Mount at their disposal. Why this preference? Why, on Tisha be-Av night, the Jewish people cannot go up on the Temple Mount and weep for our destruction?" Katsover asked to cheers from the crowd.

"We will not be satisfied with Napoleon's consolation: 'A nation that weeps for the destruction of its Temple after two thousand years is eternal.' We must march forward, to the Mount, where our purpose lies." Katsover said that "in these very days, the government of Israel and its head need no less a degree of courage, determination, the ability to withstand, profound dedication, commitment to that history and to the longings for Jerusalem, in order to allow Jewish life on the Temple Mount. It is there that a state ceremony should be held tonight, with the Prime Minister, the President, the diplomatic corps. Next year, God willing, we will act in order to go up on the Mount on Tisha be-Av night. We are hereby already giving the Israel Police a letter with the request."

We are already giving the police a request for next year's march, that will conclude with a ceremony on the Temple Mount.

At that point, Nadia Matar told of the request that was already being submitted to the Israel Police for holding next year's march, a march that would conclude on the Temple Mount and would pass along the route taken by the paratroopers in the liberation of the city. She said that the request was already being submitted now in order to prevent "excuses," in her words, to prevent the event next year, on the pretext of a lack of time for preparations.

Matar read the contents of the request: "To: Israel Police. Honorable sirs, Tonight, Tisha be-Av 5773 night, we are submitting to you a request for permission for the Tisha be-Av 5774 march. The route which we which to take: from Agron Street, along the New Gate, Damascus Gate, Herod's Gate, and Lion's Gate, and from there to go up on the Temple Mount, on the way taken by the paratroopers, the liberators of Jerusalem. On the Temple Mount plaza we will conduct a ceremony with speeches, for masses of people, with the participation of government ministers, Members of Knesset, and public figures. Sincerely, the Women in Green movement."

Danon: No leader will tell us when to build and where. Jews, too, must be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount

Matar's speech was followed by Deputy Minister of Defense Danny Danon, who congratulated Matar and Katsover for their stubbornness and perseverance in organizing the event, that has become a tradition. He then mentioned Tisha be-Av being a day for soul-searching, first and foremost, by keeping distant from gratuitous hatred. He mentioned the attacks that are voiced against different sectors of the public - the ultra-Orthodox, settlers, and others, and stated that "this is not the way, they have to serve, but from love and not from hate."

The Deputy Minister of Defense further stated that in these days he hears voices calling to halt construction in Jerusalem, but the response is "not to be afraid of anyone, no leader will tell us when to build and where. We are part of a long continuum of history. We have a strong army. Not to fear. We must apply sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, and allow freedom of religion in Jerusalem; to permit the members of all religions to pray, with respect. If Muslims pray on the Temple Mount, Jews must be permitted to do so, as well."

Rabbi Ben-Dahan: To restore control of the Temple Mount to our hands. We are preparing regulations that will permit Jewish prayer on the Mount.

The Deputy Minister of Religious Services began his speech with the question raised by Rabbi Kook in his Olat Re'ayah prayerbook: Why do the prayers begin with the sacrifices and the incense service, and not with Shema Yisrael [Hear, O Israel] or the Amidah prayer? "Rabbi Kook explained that the prayers begin with the sacrifices to clarify to you that this is what you lack. When you pray, know to what to aspire. We should have offered sacrifices and burnt incense, and therefore the synagogue is called a 'minor temple.' But just as man is 'You have made him little less than divine' [Psalms 8:6], and there still is a tremendous distance between him and God, so too, the synagogue is a bit of the Temple, and yet there is a great distance from the Temple."

Rabbi Ben-Dahan continued with criticism of the decision to hand over the Temple Mount to the Wakf, and said: "We were very distant from Eretz Israel for thousands of years. We returned and established the State of Israel, with a great ingathering of the exiles, with the strengthening of the world of Torah and yeshivot [Talmudical academies], science, and the army. Forty-six years ago we returned to the Temple Mount and the holy places, in a moment of grave folly we returned control to the Muslims. The time has come to return control of the Temple Mount to our hands."

Elkin: The Tisha be-Av march is a tradition of our forefathers, and now it is our turn to maintain it.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs MK Zeev Elkin noted in his speech that the route of the march is not new, it rather is a venerable tradition, as can be learned from documents from a thousand years ago, 400 years ago, and 150 years ago. "Already then, Jews passed by here, going around the gates and lamenting the destroyed Temple. I hear voices saying that this event is one of the delusional right, but this is an event of our fathers' fathers, and now it is our turn to maintain it."

MK Elkin continued by relating that the renewer of the tradition of going around the gates was actually the historian Prof. Zeev Vilnai, who was not among the rightwing camp. "In those days, leftwingers, too, viewed the Temple Mount and the Old City as things that were the holy of holies, and they had understood, already in the time of the Mandate, that there was no reason why not to conduct a march. Vilnai told that even then, there were Arabs who demonstrated, but the British police knew how to stop them."

Elkin noted that the tradition was halted when control of the Old City was lost upon the establishment of the State of Israel, but Vilnai himself returned to this tradition in '67 upon the return to the holy places. Elkin concluded his speech with the hope that, next year, the march would not end at Lion's Gate, but at the Western Wall and the Temple Mount itself.

Eldad: The Knesset must enact the Basic Law: The Temple Mount, to anchor its status as holy to the Jewish people, and only to it.

The chairman of Professors for a Strong Israel, Prof. Arieh Eldad, began his speech with the political doctrine of Herzl, that was written when Herzl identified the approaching destruction, in contrast with others, who did not see this. "The ground quaked under the feet of the Jewish people, and Herzl was one of the few who sensed this," Eldad said, and recalled the expression that Herzl coined when he said that it is not anti-Semitism that is the sickness, but the Exile, and the elimination of the Exile would be the remedy.

"The Exile is no longer the punishment, but the sin. The Jewish people's remaining in the Exile is a sin. Nothing is stopping the people from getting up and coming to Israel. The same can be said of the situation of the Temple Mount, the situation of Jerusalem, and of construction in Judea and Samaria. The fact that we watch the abandonment of the Temple Mount and the destruction of the remains of the Temple, the ban against Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount - this is not the punishment, but our and the government's sin. We are paying for this sin, and are liable to pay further if we do not correct it," Prof. Eldad said. He mentioned the statement by Uri Zevi Greenberg, a poet and prophet, in Eldad's words, that whoever rules the Mount will rule the entire country. "If we will not offer our obligatory sacrifices, the Arabs are liable to rule the entire land."

Prof. Eldad concluded his remarks with a call to the Knesset to enact the Basic Law: The Temple Mount, a law which would determine the status of the site as holiest for the Jewish people, and only for the Jewish people. Such a law would require sovereignty over the Temple Mount and prohibit the activity of the Wakf or any foreign sovereign; it would prevent construction on the Temple Mount, and require the repair of what has been destroyed in our times; it would permit Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount; it would be protected from the caprices of a chance majority in the Knesset; it would become obsolete only upon the dedication of the Temple on the Mount.

King: Netanyahu is dividing Jerusalem and we repress this. This reminds me of the period prior to the uprooting from Gush Katif. The chairman of the United Jerusalem Party Arieh King delivered a forceful speech, severely criticizing the Israeli government, while he addressed the deputy ministers alongside him, and stated that, in practice, the Israeli government is dividing Jerusalem - and the public represses the facts.

He began his speech with the famous statement that any generation in which the Temple is not rebuilt, is as if it was destroyed in it. "Consequently, we are mourning, not for the First and Second Temple, but for our not being worthy for the Temple to be rebuilt in our time," he said, and addressed the question to the audience, and the MKs next to him: "What have you done, besides talk, in order to rebuild the Temple?"

"I have a feeling of deja vu to the period of repression, the period eight years ago, the tragedy of the expulsion from Gush Katif. He heard then the Prime Minister proclaim the intent to throw our brothers into the streets, and today the Prime Minister declares that he intends to divide Jerusalem, and you repress this. Netanyahu divided Jerusalem, and you remain silent. It is forbidden for us to enter eight neighborhoods in Jerusalem because we are Jews. We should have conducted this march to there, to Qalandia, to Anata, to Shuafat and the other neighborhoods. If we won't open our mouths today, the end will be as in Gush Katif."

In the continuation of his speech, King drew the marchers' attention to the wall beside them, a stone wall next to Lion's Gate bearing an imprint of the Turkish flag. He related that this wall had been built illegally, without permission from the Government of Israel and the Jerusalem Municipality, on the day of the Marmara incident, and no one dares to demonstrate sovereignty. He also mentioned the harsh reality in the French Hill neighborhood, where the residents are afraid to leave their homes, for fear of Arab attacks. King also spoke of the illegal mosque that was built next to the graves of Menachem Begin and Eliezer Ben-Yehuda on the Mount of Olives. "All this happens during the time of the rightwing government, and we repress this. There is law enforcement in Jerusalem, but it is against Jews," King said.

He also mentioned the prohibition of praying, or even mumbling a prayer, on the Temple Mount, while the Arabs are permitted to play soccer there. King then attacked the government, and claimed that it conducts negotiations on the handing over of a part of King David's burial place "to the hands of the greatest of our enemies," in his words.

Mendelovich: We have failed in the struggle for Pollard.

The assembly ended with the speech by the former Prisoner of Zion Rabbi Yosef Mendelovich, who focused on the duty to act on behalf of Jonathan Pollard. He maintained that there is no longer any merit in talking about Pollard, and practical action must be taken on his behalf. "We must engage in soul-searching. We have failed in the struggle for Pollard. A struggle is not only words, but until now, we have only engaged in words," he said, and mentioned what he termed the embarrassing demonstration during the visit of United States President Barak Obama to Israel, in which the protesters asked the President of Israel Shimon Peres to act for his release.

The event concluded with the reading of the special prayer composed by Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, of blessed memory, for Jonathan's release.

After the ceremony, a considerable portion of the marchers continued to the Western Wall plaza for the recitation of the Tisha be-Av kinot.

See Also: Bloody Muslim Violence Tisha B'Av 2014

Article courtesy of Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar

Women For Israel's Tomorrow (Women in Green)
POB 7352, Jerusalem 91072, Israel

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