Israel Report

JulyAugust 2004         

Return the Israeli Flag to the Temple Mount!

The speech by Nadia Matar, Chairperson, Women in Green, at the Tisha Be-Av Evening mass march around the walls of the Old City, July 26, 2004
On June 7, 1967, our paratroopers broke through the Lions' Gate, and liberated the entire Old City. At ten o'clock in the morning, three paratroopers, following Motta Gur's orders, climbed to the top of the Mosque of the Dome and unfurled an Israeli flag over it. Four hours later, at two p.m., Defense Minister Moshe Dayan arrived, surrounded by his entourage. Nadav Shragai writes in his book The Contested Mount: "Dayan was immersed in his thoughts when the IDF Chief Prosecutor Meir Shamgar drew his attention to the fact that the Israeli flag had been raised over the Temple Mount since the morning. Dayan ordered that it immediately be lowered. Then Dayan spotted a paratrooper company that was preparing for permanent deployment in the northern part of the Temple Mount, and he ordered that they, too, be removed from the Mount.

"GOC Central Command Uzi Narkiss sought to persuade Dayan, and he reminded him that Jordan, as well, had kept a military unit on the Mount to maintain order. Dayan was not convinced. He told Narkiss that it seemed to him that the place had to be entrusted to the Muslims." Several days later, Dayan decided finally that the place and its administration were to be entrusted to the Muslim Wakf. At the same time, he decided to insist that Jews be allowed to visit the Temple Mount, but not pray there. Later on, Dayan gave an explanation for his scandalous decision - a decision that proved to all just how much Dayan was an assimilated Jew and an ignoramus. He explained that, "since for the Muslims the Temple Mount is a Muslim mosque for prayer, while for Jews it is merely a historical site recalling the past, the Arabs are not to be disturbed in acting there as they do now, and the right of the Muslims to control it must be recognized."

A few weeks later, on Tisha be-Av 1967, 1897 years after the destruction of the Second Temple, Rabbi Goren, may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing, with several dozen other Jews, entered the Temple Mount plaza, where Jews -according to halacha-were permitted to be. They brought with them a shofar (ram's horn) and a Torah Ark with a Torah scroll, and they conducted the Minhah afternoon prayer service. This Minhah prayer on the Temple Mount aroused a public storm in Israel and abroad. The media launched unbridled agitation against Rabbi Goren's initiative to renew Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, and his request to conduct a mass prayer service on Shabbat Nahamu [the Sabbath following Tisha be-Av] was categorically rejected. The government told Rabbi Goren in no uncertain terms: If Jewish worshipers were to ascend the Temple Mount, they would be evacuated by security forces.

In response to this terrible decree, Rabbi Goren wrote a letter to the Ministerial Committee for the Safeguarding of the Holy Places. His words could have been written today, almost forty years after we liberated the place of our Temple, while, to our shame, the Temple Mount is still closed to Jewish prayer. (The following are a few passages from his letter:

"Honored Ministers! Your decision by which you forbid me, as an individual, and the Jews as a whole, from praying on the Temple Mount shocked me to the depths of my soul. It follows from your decision that the only place in the world in which an express and specific ban has been placed on the Jew, as a Jew, to pray, is Mount Moriah, the mount of the Lord to which all of Israel's prayers are directed, the location of the nation's Holy of Holies. [...]

"From the destruction of the Second Temple until three hundred years ago, the prayers of Jews on the Temple Mount did not cease. [...] The uniqueness of the Kotel ( Western Wall) as a place of prayer is a historical innovation, and is not more than three hundred years old. It began after the decrees and limitations placed by the Muslim rulers on the Jews, and the abrogation of the 'synagogue' [...] that had existed for centuries on the Temple Mount. [...] In no manner or form is the Western Wall entitled to be a substitute for the mount of the Lord. The prayers at the Wall symbolize the exile of the people and its expulsion from the Temple Mount, while our prayers on the Temple Mount represent the return of the people to its land and the place of its Temple.

"Who could conceive that Israel's security forces would be compelled to obstruct Jews from praying before the Lord, when the Temple Mount is under the government of Israel? And is this our situation now, after our dazzling victory? Did we await this, that the government of Israel would discriminate between Jew and Muslim, and place guards lest, Heaven forbid, Jewish prayer would be uttered on the Temple Mount, about which the Prophets prophesied, 'For My House shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples' [Isaiah 56:7]?"

"Jewish history shall not forgive us for this. My request," Rabbi Goren ends his letter, "is to open wide the gates of the Temple Mount to all Jews and for everyone in the world. Save the Holy of Holies of the nation, do not hand over the Temple Mount to those who defile it. Signed in grief, in hope, and in blessing, Shlomo Goren, General, Chief Rabbi of Israel."

My friends, the State of Israel exists for 56 years. Of these, we were truly, in the words of the Hatikvah, "a free people in its land" only for four hours. Those four hours were those in which the Israeli flag waved above the Temple Mount. For, as Uri Zevi Greenberg knew, whoever controls the Temple Mount controls all of Eretz Israel. Anyone with any sense knows that the Temple Mount is not holy for Muslims. The only reason why they are building mosques there is because this is the people of Israel's most sanctified spot, and their goal is to prevent us from gaining a foothold there. Turning the Temple Mount compound into a Muslim place of prayer is therefore not a religious act, but a political and warlike act, a sort of spiritual terrorist attack against the Jews.

The order to lower the Israeli flag from the Temple Mount in '67 constituted the beginning of the continued withdrawal from, and collapse by Israel's governments to the Arab enemy. There is a clear and direct connection between the removal of the Israeli flag from the Temple Mount in '67 and the retreat from Yamit, from there to the criminal Oslo accords, from there to the Wye agreements, and from there to Ariel Sharon's ethnic cleansing plan to deport Jews and hand over broad portions of the soil of our homeland to the enemy. Obviously, anyone who abandons the Temple Mount, the very heart of the Jewish people, will eventually hand over the rest of the homeland to that same Arab foe.

Rabbi Yisrael Rosen writes in his book Kumu Ve-Na'aleh (Come, Let Us Go Up) that our hold on Jerusalem is to be regarded as a barometer of the degree of the national revival of the people of Israel. A debased hold on Jerusalem hints at national subservience. Firm adherence to Jerusalem means standing with head held high and with dignity. According to this barometer, the national revival of Israel today seems at first extremely low. The children of Israel's adversaries play soccer in the place of our Temple; the Arab enemy engages in the destruction of all the antiquities and Jewish traces at the site, without interference and with our full governmental compliance. This is really depressing and frustrating.

But here comes the good news. We, the people, are capable of changing the situation! Admittedly, we have many weak and tired political leaders, who are no different from the ten spies who slandered the Land of Israel. Those scouts were afraid. They did not believe or have the faith that we could conquer our Land. As is common knowledge, it was specifically for the sin of the spies that we were punished. G-d turned the day on which the Land was besmirched by these messengers, which fell on the ninth of Av, into a day of destruction and mourning. Today, we must correct this sin! Today, the people of Israel rejects the way our people reacted in the wilderness. Then, the response of the people was to believe the ten spies, to weep, to complain, and to tearfully implore Moses to return to Egypt. Yesterday we had a magnificent human chain, with more than two hundred thousand participants, from Gush Katif to the Temple Mount. Today, we have tens of thousands participants in the Walk, who encircle the Temple Mount as a bride encircles her groom under the wedding canopy. This Walk has been held for ten years in succession now, and just grows from year to year. All of this demonstrates that the majority of the people received the genes of Caleb ben Yefuneh and Joshua ben Nun, who believed in the justness of our Cause, and who did not fear to say "We will certainly go up, and we shall gain possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it" (Numbers 13:30).

We must deliver an unequivocal message to all the politicians today who, once again, slander the Land and are willing to surrender parts of it: This shall not come to pass. The people shall not allow you, even if you cook up a majority in the Knesset and the government. The majority of the people of Israel, throughout the ages, clearly say: "The Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel, in accordance with the Torah of Israel, and no one has the right to cede it." Don't delude yourselves: yesterday we stood in the human chain like nice and very disciplined children, and today we are holding a quiet and respectable march - but you should know that for us the Land of Israel is like our child, and if, Heaven forbid, the patently illegal order should come to take our child from us, the masses that we saw yesterday in the human chain, and today in this Walk will be forced to react as a lioness defending her cubs against criminal and murderous hunters.

With God's help, we will not have to face such harsh situations. With God's help, in the coming months we will succeed in sending home, to early retirement, all the political leaders who today are betraying Zionism and Judaism, and thereby bury their plan of destruction. In their place we shall find true, proud Jewish leaders, leaders who shall fearlessly proclaim throughout the whole world: "The Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel, in accordance with the Torah of Israel" - leaders whose first action will be to expunge the national shame from the Temple Mount. In other words, leaders who will remove the foreign intruder and who will return the Israeli flag over the Temple Mount, the very heart of our sanctity. This way, and only this way, with God's help, will the complete Redemption come, speedily and in our days, Amen.

©2004 - Women In Green

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