Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's office just posted a video on Youtube blaming Palestinians for violence on the Temple Mount, despite Israeli pledges to maintain the status quo. Please watch this video before reading further.
This video says that extremist Muslims are responsible for violence on the Temple Mount, despite Israel's repeatedly saying that the status quo would be unchanged. It is true that Hamas, and even Mahmoud Abbas have issued inflamatory statements and should bear part of the blame for the riots. But, as J.J. Goldberg points out in his MUST READ article, it is also true that right-wing Jewish extremists and showboating Israeli politicians also must bear some of the blame. Goldberrg reminds us that Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon claimed right-wing lawmakers members provoked rioting with their high profile visits to the Temple Mount. Goldberg also reminds us that Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef seems to concur. Here is what Rabbi Yosef said according to the Times of Israel:
"We need to stop the incitement provoked by people going to the Temple Mount," Yitzhak said at the funeral of 17-year-old Shalom Ba’adani, who was critically injured in Wednesday's car attack in Jerusalem and died of his wounds Friday."Jews must not go to the Temple Mount and provoke the Arab terrorists," he said. "This must be stopped…only in this manner shall the blood of the people of Israel stop being spilt. "Yosef reiterated the belief held by many senior Jewish figures that visiting the Temple Mount, the site of the biblical temples, was forbidden by religious law. "Fourth-rate rabbis cannot dispute (the rulings of) the sages of Israel," Yosef stated.
The biggest problem with this video is that Palestinians don't believe Israel's promise. And they have reason to be suspicious since the Israeli government has not spoken with a unified voice on this issue.
Last year Home and Construction Minister Uri Ariel called for Israel to build the Third Temple where the Dome of the Rock and the al-Asqa Mosque now stand. M.K. Moshe Feiglin has been calling for a change in the status quo for years. He once said if he was elected Prime Minister, he would rebuild the Third Temple. He's been advocating for allowing prayer on the Temple Mount, and when Prime Minister Netanyahu asked Israeli elected officials to show restraint in visiting the Temple Mount, Feiglin ignored him. MK Naftali Bennett has also expressed his dissatisfaction with maintaining the status quo by expressing his desire to see Israel exert greater control over the Temple Mount.
It's not just a few government officials that are advocating for a radical change in the status quo. The Temple Institute has just raised $104,000 to draw up architectural plans to build the Third Temple. And its website states that their goal is to remove the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque to build a Third Temple.
Geo-politically, the Temple Mount has to be cleared of the Dome of the Rock and the mosques which are presently located upon it before the physical rebuilding of the Holy Temple can begin. Many scenarios can be imagined which would accomplish this, the most promising, and not necessarily the most far-fetched, would entail Moslem recognition of the Mount as the intended location for the rebuilt Temple. With the acquiescence of the Moslem world the Moslem structures currently on the Mount would be disassembled and reassembled elsewhere. traditionally, Moslem texts, beginning with the Koran, accept the prophecies of the return of the Jewish nation and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. Today, of course, radical Islam holds sway over the Moslem world, and until this phenomenon is defeated, the likelihood of a peaceful preparation for the rebuilding of the Holy Temple remains nil.
So, Mr Prime Minister, like it or not the Palestinians just don't trust you when you say that Israel will maintain the status quo. If you REALLY want them to take you seriously then you need to kick Moshe Feiglin, Uri Ariel and anyone else who favors rebuilding a Third Temple out of your government. You need to get Naftali Bennett to state in no uncertain terms that HE will not do anything to try to change the status quo. And you must denounce The Temple Institute and anyone else who shares their goal of getting rid of the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock in the strongest possible terms. In addition, you need to hold a press conference with Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef to emphasize that most rabbis condemn visits to the top ot the Temple Mount for religious and/or security reasons. You should also invite Rabbi David Yosef and other members of the Council of Torah Sages as well. Here is what they had to say on this matter.
The great rabbis of Israel ruled that the prohibition against entrance to the Temple Mount in our time is regarded in the Torah as "karet" (for the sake of comparison one who enters the Temple Mount is like one who eats on Yom Kippur). The great rabbis of the last generation such as Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook of blessed memory, the Chief Rabbi of the Land of Israel, pronounced their opinion that entrance to the Temple Mount at this time is strictly prohibited.
Entrance to the area of the Temple Mount is all the more prohibited by Jewish law for so-called "praying" and the prayer of that worshiper is an abomination that does not bless the Lord but rather curses Him.
In light of the above, I turn to you with the demand to close the entire area of the Temple Mount to Jewish visitors and not to allow yourself to be deceived by a bizarre and extremist minority that makes all kinds of "messianic" claims using Jewish law in vain. Their evil nature seeks fabricated "permission" based on an opinion decisively rejected by all adjudicators of Jewish law.
It is contrary to opinions of all of the great rabbis of Israel throughout the generations and causes tremendous harm to the people of Israel who dwell in Zion and to those who dwell among the nations of the world. They bring hate upon us and their deeds arm those who hate Israel with an excuse to kill us, to commit murder, attack us and incite all the nations of the world against us. The silent acquiescence allowing a bizarre fringe group to lead the general public with their messianic conceptions is unacceptable.
Of course, we must add in no uncertain terms that closing the Temple Mount to Jewish visitors does not imply that we forfeit our right to this holy place. On the contrary, the prohibition to enter the Temple Mount is on account of the enormity of its holiness that so far surpasses every other holiness that it is forbidden to enter it except after total purification that is not possible to reach at this time.
You really need to work hard to show that you consider threats to the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock to be threats to Israeli national security as well, and you need to do everything you can to oppose them. If you don't take these concrete steps then the Palestinians are unlikely to trust you and violence will sadly once again erupt on the Temple Mount.
To your credit, Mr. Prime Minister, you just finished a summit with Secretary of State John Kerry and King Abdullah of Jordan. We don't know exactly what was said, but you pledged to take concrete steps to reduce tension on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif and maintain the status quo. It's a bit early to say whether you will be successful, but results seem to be mixed so far. Israel had previously prevented Muslim men under the age of 35 (or 50 during times of heightened tensions) from having access to the compound. This restriction has been lifted since the meeting. On the other hand, women are apparently being discouraged from praying at the Mosque by being required to surrender their ID. They find this inconvenient since they sometimes have to wait several hours at the police station and go through an interrogation to get their ID back. Hopefully the you will find a way to streamline this process so that women wanting to pray at the Mosque will not be discouraged. Alternatively, if Israel insists on temporarily confiscating Palestinian IDs before allowing them to go into the Mosque then it should do the same to non-Muslim visitors who visit the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif as well.
Updated 11/17/14: This piece has been rewritten to incorporate more information into it.