MK Benny Elon: FIRST TEMPLE ANTIQUITIES TOSSED IN THE TRASH
MK Benny Elon, interview in the Israeli press
December 17, 1999
Translated by Ruth Lieberman
Remnants from both the First and Second Temple Periods were discovered last week in piles of garbage dumped by the Moslem Wakf in the Kidron Valley.
MK Benny Elon, leading the struggle to keep Jerusalem united, claims that the Wakf emptied one hundred truckloads of refuse from the site of Shlomo’s Stables, under the Temple Mount. Although illegal, this was done under the watchful eye of Israeli police, who did not bother to inform the Antiquities Authority.
Leading archaeologists, sifting through the rubble, found many pottery and stone vessels, and even fragments of buildings, among the discarded trash.
Q. Who is responsible for this?
MK Elon: We all are. I’m tired of hearing Minister Chaim Ramon blame Netanyahu at every opportunity, claiming that the opening of the Kotel tunnel was the cause of the lack of coordination between Israel and the Wakf. I have asked Ramon how this crisis will end, and he said that it will be cleared up in six months. Six months is a long time, and I believe that by then the Beilin-Abu Mazen plan will have been implemented and Jerusalem divided. Leading figures, such as Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert and heads of the Antiquities Authority, cynically hide behind the decision of the Government’s Legal Council stating that all issues, big and small, regarding the Temple Mount must go through him.
Q. If Barak approved the opening, what is all the fuss about?
MK Elon: We are a law-abiding country only to some degree. For example, the Ministry of Religion wanted to change the entrances to the Kotel and it took five years to get the necessary approval. Rabbi Goren wanted to put a menorah on a rooftop near the Kotel and that led to a huge uproar. But making holes in the city’s ancient walls is fine, and others (the Wakf) continue to blast holes, refusing to appear before the High Court when summoned, or before Knesset committee meetings, and refusing to recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem. Sheikh Salah Raid, of the Islamic Movement in Israel, threatens bloodshed – and the Israeli Government caves in, allowing him to actually guide the tractors onto and around the Temple Mount.
Q. Have the Jews done all they can in the battle for the Temple Mount?
MK Elon: Definitely not. The fact that the Rabbis have pronounced it forbidden for Jews to enter the Temple Mount, has been understood by Islam as a relinquishing of our authority and the transfer of sovereignty to the Arabs. Nationalist religious Jews, too, do not enter this holy place, so that over the years it is the Kotel which has become synonymous with the Jewish holiest site, although this is not true. I too, am guilty of this. I would like to go to the holy places on the Temple Mount, but Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu has forbidden me. I feel that I am not doing enough to prevent the awful possibility of Moslem control of our holiest site.
Q. What can be done?
I call upon the Chief Rabbis to reconsider their pronouncement regarding forbidding Jews to enter the Temple Mount, in order to prevent losing it to foreign sovereignty. There are places, today, that can be permitted, but the Rabbis hesitate to do so. I call upon the rabbis and politicians identified with the mainstream, to stop playing games when it comes to the Temple Mount, and to take a stand to ensure Jewish control of our People’s historically holiest site.
12 Tevet 5760
To the Honorable Chief Rabbis,
The teachers and leaders of the Jewish People!
As a student before his teachers, I allow myself to address you.
I know how careful Rabbi Kook z’l was, in his book “Mishpat Cohen”, regarding not entering the Temple Mount, according to all opinions.
I also know how his son, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda z’l, taught his students to be careful with this issue. However, when asked, he made it clear that regarding occupation and sovereignty our soldiers must be stationed there, and that all Moslem prayer arrangements must be made with our permission and under our authority.
Regretfully, we see today – and reality cannot be denied – that the Israeli Government and the police have awarded almost complete sovereignty to the Moslems, who unabashedly break the law and disturb the peace, claiming that the Temple Mount has absolutely no religious value for the Jewish Nation.
All the signs point to the possibility that in the talks being held today, the Israeli government may recognize, G-d forbid, the holiness of the Temple Mount solely for Moslems, and to award it Moslem extra-territorial status, such as the Vatican received in sites holy to Christians.
Only a pronouncement by your Honors, which will command Torah-observant Jews to uphold the watch on the Temple Mount, or at the surrounding walls in the places which are permissible according to all opinions, or in specific places after ritual immersion if you so rule – or in any other manner that can allow a Jewish haredi and religious presence, to attest to the fact that the Temple Mount is not holy just to marginal political factions, but to the entire Jewish People – and only as a result of the great and awesome holiness are we disallowed from entering.
Only your guidance and clear pronouncement can save the situation!