It Is Undisputed That the Temple Mount Is Judaism’s Holiest Site

Following Israel’s liberation of the old city of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War, then-defense minister Moshe Dayan established what has become known as the “status quo” on the Temple Mount. Meir Soloveichik describes this situation, and also how it has evolved despite its name:

Religious authority over the area is largely exercised by the Muslim waqf, [a religious trust], and visiting Jews are literally forbidden to pray there. Despite this indignity, religious Jews have continued to come, recently by the many thousands. One of the most popular days of the year to visit is the Ninth of Av, when the Temple was destroyed. The Temple’s destruction is the reason that this day is the saddest of the Jewish calendar, because—obviously—the Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site. It was on the Ninth of Av this year that rioting Arabs sought to prevent Jewish visitation. They failed.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thereafter made a statement in which he spoke of “freedom of worship for Jews on the Mount.” However, his alternate prime minister, Yair Lapid, had to walk back the implication that Jews might be allowed such freedom at the site of the ancient Temples:

Then Lapid went further. “Jews have freedom to visit the Temple Mount and Muslims have freedom of worship there,” he said. “If Jews wish to pray, the holiest place for Jews is a few meters from there—the Western Wall.” This is preposterous. The Western Wall, or Kotel, is the retaining wall of the Temple plaza from the Herodian age. It acquired its special status because it was the one site where Jews were allowed by the Ottomans to gather in yearning for the Temple itself, and to mourn its destruction. The Kotel is the place where Jews for centuries gathered . . . to affirm that the Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site.

Ultimately the problem with statements such as these is not their ignorance but that they give ammunition to enemies of Israel, who seek to lie about Jewish history. The hard truth is that in the past 54 years since the miraculous moment when Jews returned to ancient Jerusalem, the sacred city has itself been rebuilt—but the destruction of the remnants of the Temple has gotten worse. The waqf has destroyed much archeological evidence of the Temple that once was there, and many Palestinian leaders have denied that the Temple stood there in the first place. To say on television that the Western Wall is Judaism’s holiest site is to provide propaganda to those who seek to negate the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Moshe Dayan, Naftali Bennett, Temple Mount, Western Wall, Yair Lapid

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security