Thursday, November 20, 2014

Netanyahu and the Temple Mount Status Quo

Netanyahu and the Temple Mount Status Quo

- Rabbi Chaim Richman

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has consistently based his Temple Mount policy on maintaining the pre-existing "status quo" that his government inherited concerning Jewish presence and prayer on the Temple Mount. He has stated repeatedly and forcefully to foreign leaders and representatives, and to local and international media alike that his policy is "No Change in the Status Quo," meaning Jews (and other non-Muslims) can freely enter the Temple Mount (during the limited hours that the Mount is open to non-Muslims), but Jews under no circumstances can pray on the Temple Mount.

It is important to mention that that status quo does not only refer to the non-allowance of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, but also to the general agreement that no changes of any sort should be implemented at the holy site. For example, the archaeological integrity of the Mount and the physical structures on the Mount should be preserved as is, and no changes should be made regarding any of the arrangements for visiting the Mount - arrangements that have been in place for many decades. The Muslim Wakf has never respected this understanding of the status quo. Recent years have seen massive underground construction of an illegal mosque on the Mount and the accompanying deliberate and relentless destruction of precious archaeological remains from the first and second Holy Temple, all performed under the administration of the Muslim Waqf. Successive Israeli governments have refrained from preventing or even addressing these violent violations of the oft-cited status quo. 

During the recent weeks of high tension on and around the Temple Mount, Prime Minister Netanyahu has been repeating his Temple Mount policy almost like a mantra: "No Change in the Status Quo." He has pledged this repeatedly to king Abdullah of Jordan.

Yet in the past two weeks, following Netanyahu's meetings in Amman, Jordan with king Abdullah and US secretary of state John Kerry, Jews ascending the Temple Mount have been limited in number by the police to groups of no more than five Jews on the Temple Mount at any given time. This blatant discrimination is itself a violation of the status quo. 

This change in the status quo not only contradicts Netanyahu's professed policy but it puts into practice a flagrant further discrimination against Jews hoping to ascend the Temple Mount. Not only are families and synagogue groups who have arrived with the intention of ascending the Mount together being broken up into groups of five, but hundreds of worshipers, after waiting hours to enter find themselves locked out when the three hour window of visiting rights allotted Jews under the "status qou" comes to a close for the day.

More and more Jews are expressing the desire to ascend the Temple Mount. More and more prominent rabbis are supporting the call to allow Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. Prime Minister Netanyahu has resisted this historic sea-change and revolution in Jewish consciousness, wrapping himself in the mantle of guardian of the status quo, yet this new change in protocol betrays both his declared policy and the growing desire of the people of Israel to reconnect with the Temple Mount, the heart of Jerusalem, eternal capital of Israel.

We call upon all Jews and non-Jews who stand for freedom of worship on the Temple Mount to voice their concerns publicly. We urge members of Knesset and government ministers who have been actively promoting the rights of Jews to enter and pray freely on the Temple Mount to address this drastic infringement upon the rights of Jews on the Temple Mount and to demand that Prime Minister Netanyahu rescind this new draconian and discriminatory twist in the "status quo."

Status Quo? The Dome of the Rock was Built for Jews

Status Quo? The Dome of the Rock was Built for Jews

In final installment of 3-part series on the Temple Mount, we take a look at a lesser-known aspect of the history of the Dome of the Rock.
Hillel Fendel

Parts I and II of this series have shown that the "status quo" on the Temple Mount is not quite all it's been hyped up to be. It certainly is not an all-out ban on Jewish prayer on the holiest site to the Jewish People – because for hundreds of years, up until possibly 300 years ago, it was frequently used for just that purpose. Jews visited the Mount often and prayed there regularly.

On the other hand, if the "status quo" refers to the arrangements put in place after the Six Day War in 1967, they have long been changed – and to the detriment of Jewish rights there. It is ostensibly illogical to demand retaining the "status quo" to forbid Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, while changing the "status quo" in order to much more severely restrict Jewish visitation rights.

In any event, latest research regarding the construction of the Dome of the Rock – the magnificent structure that stands atop the site of the Holy of Holies – shows that it was originally built not for Muslims at all. Rather, it was built for the Jewish People!

We herewith present the sources for this novel concept. The late Rabbi Shlomo Goren, a Temple Mount expert and Chief Rabbi of the IDF and later of Israel, wrote in his classic work "The Temple Mount" (Ha'Idra Rabba Publications, Jerusalem, 2005, 2nd ed., p. 327) as follows:
"The Al-Aksa Mosque [at the southern end of the Mount, opposite the Dome of the Rock – HF] was built as a Muslim house of prayer outside the boundaries of the original Temple Mount, and therefore it points southward towards Mecca. And at the request of the Jews, Omar built the Dome of the Rock sanctuary to serve as a house of prayer for the Jews. This was after the Jews showed him the site where the Holy Temple had stood – and it does not point to Mecca."

Rabbi Goren clearly delineates between the two buildings: One is in the direction of the holy Muslim city of Mecca, and is to serve as a mosque – while the other was built without regard to Mecca, and only at the guidance and request of the Jews.

Rabbi Goren did not list all of his sources, but most certainly one of them was the Byzantine historian Theophanes. In the year 635, he wrote a Greek work entitled Chronographia, an English translation of which was published in Bonn in 1839. The famed English historian Guy Le Strange cited the following relevant passage from the translation in his 1890 work History of Jerusalem Under the Moslems, p.11:
"In this year [635 C.E.], Omar began to restore the Temple at Jerusalem, for the building, in truth, no longer then stood firmly founded, but had fallen to ruin. Now when Omar inquired the cause, the Jews answered saying, 'Unless thou throw down the Cross, which stands on the Mt. of Olives, the building of the Temple will never be firmly founded.' Thereupon Omar threw down the Cross at that place, in order that the building (of the Temple) might be made firm…"

Le Strange underlines the trustworthiness of this amazing report by emphasizing that the author, Theophanes, preceded the earliest Arab authorities on this topic by more than 50 years. He further highlights that Theophanes lived "considerably under a century and a half [after] the date of Omar's conquest of Jerusalem."
It is thus to be seen, based on apparently the earliest account of the building of the Dome of the Rock, that it was built not for Moslems, but for Jews, and was even supposed to be a "more firmly founded" version of the Holy Temple.

How ironic it is that this is the true background of the building that now symbolizes, throughout the world, Moslem control of Judaism's holiest site – and the ban on Jewish prayer there.

When next is heard a call to return to the "status quo" on the Temple Mount, let it be clear that this means nothing less than full Jewish prayer rights at the holy site – and possibly even much more.

There is No 'Status Quo' on the Temple Mount

There is No 'Status Quo' on the Temple Mount

Everyone's talking about the 'status quo' on Judaism's holiest site. There's just one problem - if it ever existed, it doesn't now.
Hillel Fendel
It is very popular to demand nowadays that Israel "maintain the status quo" on the Temple Mount – but barely anyone can say exactly what that "status quo" is. In fact, the rules instituted for prayer rights on the Mount immediately after the Six Day War barely resemble those in place today.

It must be stated at the outset that after the Six Day War, control of the Temple Mount was granted to the Muslim Waqf by none other than then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan. A very controversial personality in modern Israeli history, Dayan was credited with much of the responsibility for Israel's miraculous victory at the time – and was blamed for much of what happened during the Yom Kippur War six years later.

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, Rabbi of the town of Har Brachah and Dean of its Yeshiva, wrote this week in B'Sheva, "For years, it has been known that there were two sides to Moshe Dayan; darkness and light served together. On the one hand, he was a true Israeli war hero, and on the other hand, he was an adulterer and a thief [of archaeological artifacts – HF]. Apparently, the latter traits tipped the scales against him. [After 1967] he began to lose his public stature; his name will be remembered in infamy."

After Dayan had the Israeli flag removed from the Temple Mount after the Six Day War, he put in place the following arrangements (based on a list compiled by Jerusalem expert and historian Nadav Shragai):

1. The Waqf, a Jordanian-Muslim religious body, would continue to manage the site.

2. Jews would be permitted to visit the Temple Mount, but forbidden to pray there.

3. Israel's police would maintain law and order in the sacred compound.

4. Israeli sovereignty and law would be applied to the Temple Mount, as to the other parts of Jerusalem.
Shortly afterwards, it was also decided that Jews and other non-Muslims would enter the Mount only via the Mughrabi Gate, located at the center of the Western Wall. It also later became prohibited to unfurl any flag on the Mount.

"In retrospect," Shragai sums up, echoing the sentiments of many Jews around the country and the world, "the concession Dayan made in the name of the Jewish People was indeed immense, colossal, almost inconceivable. The Jewish State entrusted its holiest place to a competing religion – the Muslim religion, for which the place is only the third in holiness, and gave up the right to pray there."

At that time, Jewish protest against the regulations was minimal, for the Jewish public was excited at the prospect of being able to pray at the Western Wall – a supporting wall of the Temple Mount. In addition, virtually all rabbis ruled in accordance with long-standing tradition - and long-standing ignorance of the exact locations of the Halakhically-forbidden areas on the Mount - that entry to the Temple Mount was forbidden.
Today, over 40 years later, the above "status quo" is no longer in effect. For one thing, religious Jews now clamor to be allowed in – as the boundaries of the permitted locations have become well-known. In addition, they fear the loss of Israeli sovereignty there, and are convinced that their frequent visits to the site will prevent this.

Under the original arrangements, Jews were freely allowed to visit the Mount – but today, such visits are often restricted. They may ascend to the holy site only five days a week, for three hours in the morning and one in the afternoon. Even these few hours are often removed from the Jewish itinerary when Arab incitement and unrest portends violence in the area.

Religious Jews may visit only in small groups; visitors are often forced to wait for hours until those in front of them in line have completed their visits. Even then, they frequently are not allowed in.
In addition, the prohibition on raising flags on the Temple Mount is enforced only in the case of Israeli flags, but not when Hamas or Palestinian Authority flags are unfurled.

When Knesset Members and other public figures such as Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick (still recovering from the critical wounds he suffered in a near-fatal Palestinian assassination attempt) call for Jewish prayer rights at Judaism's holiest site, they are often accused of trying to change the "status quo." Their critics should be reminded that the "status quo" has already been changed very heavily – to the exclusive detriment of Jewish would-be worshipers.

In Part III of this series, read of startling evidence showing that the Dome of the Rock was originally built for – Jews!

Status Quo? 'Jews Prayed on the Temple Mount for Centuries'

Status Quo? 'Jews Prayed on the Temple Mount for Centuries'

In first of a series on the Temple Mount, Arutz Sheva explores the origins of the hotly-contested 'status quo' at Judaism's holiest site.
Hillel Fendel
Though "maintaining the status quo" on the Temple Mount seems to be a universal goal, no one is quite sure what it is. Those who believe it means that Jews must not pray there should take note that the late Rabbi Shlomo Goren, Chief Rabbi of the IDF and later of Israel, wrote that Jews prayed there for "hundreds of years" up until three centuries ago.

When Israeli, American and other diplomats and statesmen speak of maintaining the status quo, they generally mean that Muslims must be allowed free entry for worship or leisure, while Jews must continue to be restricted in their access. Jews, according to this definition of the "status quo," must be prevented from entering in large groups, or at other than several specified daily hours – and from praying at the site altogether.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other Cabinet ministers have repeatedly stated of late that there will be no change in the status quo. They have made this clear to Jordan’s King Abdullah, the European Union's new foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, and others.

However, this "status quo" under which Jews do not pray on the Temple Mount actually came into effect only relatively recently. As recently noted by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed in BeSheva, Rabbi Goren, who blew a shofar at the site upon its liberation during the Six Day War in 1967, wrote in his work "The Temple Mount" that "Jewish prayer at the Western Wall began only in the 16th century; prior to that, Jews prayed for centuries on the Temple Mount."

Rabbi Goren, a Temple Mount expert, notes that, based on the renowned Radbaz – the 16th century Rabbi David Ben Shlomo Ibn Zimra, whose rulings form the basis of much of accepted Halakhah – and others, "it is clear that after the Amoraim and Geonim [i.e., after the year 1038], the general custom followed the opinion that there was no reason to forbid entry to the Holy Site in its destruction, as the Meiri writes… This is true even when there was no Red Heifer for purification… This practice cannot be attributed to lack of knowledge; it is not reasonable to assume that Jews prayed for centuries at the site of the Holy Temple without anyone mentioning that this involves a grave prohibition, punishable by karet."

Of course, the custom gradually changed. The Muslims banned the Jews from entering the holy site, and their "holiest site" gradually came to be the Western Wall – which was actually just a supporting wall of the Temple Mount. "When the Medrash states that the Divine Presence never left the Western Wall," Rabbi Goren writes, "it does not refer to this wall, but rather to the western wall of the Temple courtyard or of the sanctuary."

Rabbi Goren writes that he himself was "bound up in chords of love for the [present-day] Western Wall, where I used to pray every Sabbath and holiday," and that this prevented him from acting immediately after the Six Day War to institute Jewish entry to the Temple Mount. However, "the voice of our cry [in Psalms], 'Who will ascend to the mountain of G-d?', aroused me to take strength and clarify the matter of visiting the Temple Mount." This he did by assigning the IDF's Engineering Corps to map out the exact measurements of the Mount, and consulting Rabbinic and other texts to clarify the precise location of the Holy of Holies and other forbidden areas.

Rabbi Goren attempted to arrange prayer services on the Temple Mount, but was stopped from doing so by then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan.

In any event, the "status quo" in previous centuries included Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. After 1967, a new "status quo" was instituted – one that barely resembles the situation of today. More on this in Part II of this series.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


the State of Palestine Quiz

The Flag of Palestine Before 1948

The Flag of Palestine Before 1948

Above photo: The actual flag of Palestine — 1939. Further proof of the lie (as if we needed any more) of the vicious historical revisionism by the Muslim world to erase the Jewish State and create a mythical Islamic narrative surrounding five thousand years of Jewish history.
The fact is that Palestine is Israel – the Jewish homeland.

After the Romans conquered the Jews in the Jewish-Roman wars, the Romans renamed Israel after the Jews’ worst enemies — the Philistines — in order to further humiliate them.
The term was first used to denote an official province in c.135 CE, when the Roman authorities, following the suppression of the [Jewish] Bar Kokhba Revolt, combined Iudaea Province with Galilee and the Paralia to form “Syria Palaestina”. (source)
It was a Roman Emperor who first coined the name.
In AD 135, the Emperor Hadrian blotted out the name “Provincia Judea” and renamed it “Provincia Syria Palaestina”. This was the Latin version of the Greek name and soon became a name to be used as an administrative unit. This name was shortened to Palaestina and the name “Palestine” was derived from it as a modern and anglicized version. (more here)
In other words, it was always Jewish.
Leading up to Israel’s independence in 1948, it was common for the international press to label Jews, not Arabs, living in the mandate as Palestinians. It was not until years after Israeli independence that the Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were called Palestinians. In fact, Arabs cannot even correctly pronounce the word Palestine in their native tongue, referring to area rather as“Filastin.”
The word Palestine or Filastin does not appear in the Koran. The term peleshet appears in the Jewish Tanakh no fewer than 250 times. (Jewish Virtual Library)
1939 Palestinian Flag. What does it look like? Surprised? From Factual Israel:  (thanks to Christian)
This a Larousse French dictionary from 1939. In the appendix it lists all the then current flags of the world in alphabetical order. You’ll notice that for Germany at that time the flag was the Nazi one replete with Zwastika which proves that this was pre-1945 ( before 1945).
Now, alphabetically, look for the Palestinian Flag. YES , there is one. What does it look like? Surprised? Oh, but you thought (Mandate Jewish) Palestine was an Islamic Arab-,Turkish-, Circassian Sovereign State that the bad Jews took over , right?
From 1920-1948 a ( class ‘A’ Mandate) State of Palestine existed as per international law but it was, as all of its major institutions, Jewish. Until the 1960s, name “Palestine” resonated as something Jewish to European ears; the Muslims rejecting the name saying it didn’t belong. The 4,000 year old Jewish homeland or “Land of Israel” or the “Holy Land” were all synonymous!!
The British as legal Mandatory over the Mandate managed or mismanaged the state partially with Jewish Auxilary until Jews regained official sovereignty in 1948, by declaring independence.
The U.N. did not recreate Israel as some people claim.
There are a lot of cultural and historic relics, artifacts and icons that validate the Jewish identity of Palestine.
Take, for example, the leading newspaper of “Palestine,” the Palestine Post (or as it is now known, the Jerusalem Post).
palestine post16 May 1948 edition of The Palestine Post
The Jerusalem Post is a broadsheet newspaper based in Israel, publishing only English and French editions. Its predecessor the Palestine Post was founded in 1932 by Gershon Agron. The name change occurred in 1950.
Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 2.06.20 PM

An antecedent paper,The Palestine Bulletin was founded in January 1925 by Jacob Landau of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.[6] It was owned by the Palestine Telegraphic Agency, which was in practice part of the JTA even though it was legally separate.[6] On 1 November 1931, editorship of the Bulletin was taken over by American journalist Gershon Agronsky (later Agron).[7] In March 1932, a dispute arose between Landau and Agronsky, which Agronsky resolved to settle by establishing an independent newspaper.[6]However, Landau and Agronsky instead came to an agreement to transform the Bulletin into a new jointly owned newspaper.[6] Accordingly, the Palestine Bulletin published its last issue on 30 November 1932 and the The Palestine Post Incorporating The Palestine Bulletin appeared the following day, 1 December 1932. On 25 April 1933, the masthead was reduced to just The Palestine Post, though the newspaper continued to state its founding year as 1925 for at least a year afterwards.
The Origins of the term “Palestinian Arabs”:
No “Palestinian Arab people” existed at the start of 1920, but, by December, it took shape in a form recognizably similar to today’s.
Until the late nineteenth century, residents living in the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean identified themselves primarily in terms of religion: Moslems felt far stronger bonds with remote co-religionists than with nearby Christians and Jews. Living in that area did not imply any sense of common political purpose.
Then came the ideology of nationalism from Europe; its ideal of a government that embodies the spirit of its people was alien but appealing to Middle Easterners. How to apply this ideal, though? Who constitutes a nation and where must the boundaries be? These questions stimulated huge debates.
Some said the residents of the Levant are a nation; others said Eastern Arabic speakers; or all Arabic speakers; or all Moslems.
But no one suggested “Palestinians,” and for good reason. Palestine, then a secular way of saying Eretz Yisra’el or Terra Sancta, embodied a purely Jewish and Christian concept, one utterly foreign to Moslems, even repugnant to them.
This distaste was confirmed in April 1920, when the British occupying force carved out a “Palestine.” Moslems reacted very suspiciously, rightly seeing this designation as a victory for Zionism. Less accurately, they worried about it signaling a revival in the Crusader impulse. No prominent Moslem voices endorsed the delineation of Palestine in 1920; all protested it.
Instead, Moslems west of the Jordan directed their allegiance to Damascus, where the great-great-uncle of Jordan’s King Abdullah II was then ruling; they identified themselves as Southern Syrians.
Interestingly, no one advocated this affiliation more emphatically than a young man named Amin Husseini. In July 1920, however, the French overthrew this Hashemite king, in the process killing the notion of a Southern Syria.
Isolated by the events of April and July, the Moslems of Palestine made the best of a bad situation. One prominent Jerusalemite commented, just days following the fall of the Hashemite kingdom: “after the recent events in Damascus, we have to effect a complete change in our plans here. Southern Syria no longer exists. We must defend Palestine.”
Following this advice, the leadership in December 1920 adopted the goal of establishing an independent Palestinian state. Within a few years, this effort was led by Husseini.
Other identities – Syrian, Arab, and Moslem – continued to compete for decades afterward with the Palestinian one, but the latter has by now mostly swept the others aside and reigns nearly supreme.

Countering the 'shrinking Palestine Maps' scam

Countering the 'shrinking Palestine Maps' scam

One of the most pernicious and common scams propagated by anti-Israeli activists is the so-called 'shrinking maps' of Palestine (see bottom of this article). As with most anti-Israel propaganda (like "Israelis are baby-killers" whereas in fact Israel does everything to avoid any civilian casualties while Palestinians specifically target young children; and "Israel is an apartheid state" whereas Israel is the only country in the Middle East to provide full rights for all religious groups while the Palestinian Authority allows no Jews at all)  the claims are a  perfect inversion of reality.

In 2010 I decided that the best way to counter these maps was to show the following alternative (I could not find anything like this on the web so I developed it myself - there have been copies since). The map demonstrates  the extent to which it is Israel that has been shrinking since 1973, in its desperate but increasingly futile hope to trade 'land for peace':

Now compare that factual reality with the propaganda maps that lie (see also Elder of Ziyon on this):

  •  First of all note that the first map distinguishes "Jewish settlements" and "Palestinian Land" whereas all the others simple compare "Israeli Land" and "Palestinian Land". Since there was no 'State of Palestine'  in 1947 there was no "Palestinian Land". Instead they should have highlighted (for consistency) "Arab settlements" which would actually have been much fewer and smaller than the "Jewish settlements". And of course most of the land would be neither "Jewish settlements" nor "Arab settlements" because it was still barren (although much of it was actually legally owned by Jews who had bought it). If you used the logic of this propaganda map and applied to to the USA today you could show that there are just tiny pockets of "American colonialist settlements" sprinkled amid the vast land which could be said to be "Native American" (UPDATE: see exactly such a map here and at bottom of page)

  • These maps are based on the completely false premise that, prior to 1947 there was an Arab state of Palestine. In fact the Palestine that was promised to the Jews as part of the Balfour declaration was the British mandate territory that includes what later become the state of Jordan (my map above top left). There was not - and never has been - an Arab state of Palestine even though, between 1948 and 1967 there was no 'occupied territories' of the West Bank or Gaza since these areas were then under the full control of Jordan and Egypt respectively. The Palestinian Arabs living there during that period never called for an independent state of their own.

  • Only the Jews of Palestine considered themselves Palestinian before 1948. The Arabs - most of whom had come to Palestine from Egypt and Syria because of the economic opportunities opened up by the Jews - considered themselves to be Syrian.

  • Despite the fact that 80% of mandate Palestine (not shown on the maps that lie) had already been granted to the Arabs exclusively to become the new state of Jordan, the Jews of Palestine accepted the UN partition plan of 1947. The surrounding Arab states did not accept it and launched a war of annihilation against the Jews (during and after which some 1 million Jews from Arab countries were forced to leave - most of them came to Israel).

  • The result of the war that was intended to murder every single Jew in Palestine was that the invading Arab armies were defeated and the Jews controlled slightly more territory overall than was part of the 1947 plan; however, they also lost some territory such as the Jewish quarter of East Jerusalem (including Judaism's holiest sites such as the Wailing Wall) and Gush Etzion that even the 1947 plan had not considered to be under Arab control.

  • The UN accepted the 1949 armistice line as defining the borders of Israel, while calling for East Jerusalem (now under Jordanian occupation) to be 'internationalised'.

  • The Arab states refused to recognise the State of Israel and have continued to this day to try to destroy it. The Jordanians who occupied East Jerusalem in 1948 expelled every Jew and destroyed every synagogue in the old city. Not a single Jew was allowed to enter Judaism's holiest sites until 1967 when, after the Egyptians, Jordanians and Syrians launched another attempted war of annihilation, Israel regained control over the old city and other areas.

  • Israel offered to withdraw from all the newly gained territories in return for peace but the offer was rejected by the Arab countries. With the exception of Jewish East Jerusalem Israel has essentially made the same offer over and again ever since but it has always been rejected. Despite this, Israel has returned the whole of Gaza and most of the West Bank to Palestinian control. But the Arabs continue to demand the destruction of all of Israel.
It is also important to show Israel in context with its Muslim neighbours:

Update 9 August 2014: Applying the Palestinian maps scam to the USA: