Friday, November 22, 2013

The heart of the conflict

The heart of the conflict

Dr. Haim Shine

During a tempestuous debate in the Knesset last Monday, MK Jamal Zahalka (National Democratic Assembly) shouted out, "There is no Temple Mount. It is merely virtual. There is only the Al-Aqsa mosque."

If that is the case, it is unclear why Muslims are making such concerted efforts to erase any Jewish trace from the Temple Mount, just as the Roman emperor Hadrian did in the first century.

Hadrian destroyed Jerusalem and ploughed the earth of the Temple Mount, believing that as long as the Temple stood, the Jews would not stop longing for it. At the end of the day they would return home and re-establish their independence.

Hadrian was in error then, as the Arabs are today. You can plough the earth of the Temple Mount, but the Temple will stand in the heart of every Jew forever. Whoever fails to understand that the Temple Mount is the rock of our existence fails to understand the Jews and their unique history. Enormous empires have arisen and vanished, but the Jews march forward with vitality and play a leading role on the stage of global events.

It is a good thing that there is an Arab Knesset member who admits without hesitation or fear that the true struggle is over control of the Temple Mount. A struggle that is fundamentally religious and uncompromising, between Judaism and Islam. Many of us, especially on the Left, try to give the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a territorial-diplomatic character as if it can be solved through creative compromises.

The fertile minds of the Israeli Left managed to persuade many good people around the world that if Israel gives up a little more, peace will break out and Islamic terrorism will return its holy sword to its sheath. Time after time, without learning their lesson, Israeli leaders are misled by vain visions of phony peace. Some of them even managed to win a Nobel Peace Prize along with arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat. Only Israeli citizens learned the hard way that there is nothing new under the sun.

The Jews' right to the land of Israel, their historical homeland, is at the root of the conflict. The Palestinians were never ready to recognize the State of Israel as the Jewish state. They see the territory of our homeland as belonging to them. As is well known, an Arab never gives up his land, as opposed to some Jews, who after 2,000 years in exile have a hard time getting used to the idea that one doesn't give away pieces of one's homeland. A generation has grown up here with roots in the air instead of the ground.

For many years, Muslims have gone to great lengths to erase any Jewish traces from the Temple Mount. They are unable to reconcile themselves to the fact that our forefather Abraham walked on the Temple Mount thousands of years before the Prophet Muhammad hitched his horse to its rocks. The hearts and souls of Jews who lived in the land of Israel and later in the diaspora, were connected to the Temple Mount, which like Jerusalem was at the heart of Jewish longings and prayers throughout the generations. Jews' dream was to reach Jerusalem. This huge dream is coming true before our eyes.

The Palestinians understand very well that whoever controls the Temple Mount controls the spirit of the Jewish people as well as its great hope for renewal and independence. In every excavation that is undertaken in Jerusalem, in every bit of earth that is discarded from the Temple Mount by Muslim wickedness, one can hear the cries of ancient generations, proving without a doubt Jews' primacy in the place. It is hard for our enemies to accept these findings, because they undermine their false claims.

These days, as the struggle over the Temple Mount comes to a head, the state of Israel must not give up one iota of the Jews' right to ascend the Mount and pray. Anyone who gives up our fundamental right to the Temple Mount will give up our right to other places in the land of Israel. It's true there are Halachic proscriptions related to ascending to the Temple Mount due to the sanctity of the place, but there are places on the Mount where Jews can express the hidden murmuring of their hearts and pray freely. We did not return to the land of Israel after 2,000 years to be subject to the whims of non-Jewish administrators of the Waqf.

In his poem "The Dead of the Desert," Haim Nahman Bialik writes: "We are heroes. The last generation of servitude and the first of redemption. Our hand alone, our strong hand, removed the heavy yoke from our necks. Here we are and we have ascended, we ascend amid the storm."