There’s No Reason for Hysteria over Jewish Prayer at the Temple Mount

December 2, 2022 | Nadav Shragai
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Last month, Mansour Abbas, an Arab Knesset member and a participant in the outgoing coalition, warned that a decision by the new government to loosen restrictions on Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount could “lead to war.” Such fears about the possible policies of the new coalition—which has not yet been sworn in and has not endorsed any plans for the Mount—have been echoed by the American and Israeli media. Nadav Shragai cautions against what he sees simply as “hysteria.”

Jews have been praying on the Mount for five years now; quiet prayers, without provoking anyone, in the southeastern corner of the Mount, with police authorization, and under police supervision. . . . This [new policy] took time and was implemented gradually, after endless shakeups and material changes on the holy Mount initiated and executed by the Muslims.

Should we briefly recall what has occurred on the Mount since 1967? . . . The Muslims turned the Dome of the Rock—which of course originally was not a mosque—into a mosque and paved large sections of the Temple Mount compound, which is in practice used as a mass prayer hall for tens of thousands. They established three additional mosques on the Mount: al-Marwani mosque located in Solomon’s stables, in the underground vaulted space along the southeastern side of the Temple Mount; the ancient Aqsa mosque underneath the overground Aqsa mosque; and the Gate of Mercy compound.

And just as it would be inconceivable to remove Muslims praying from al-Marwani mosque and the ancient Aqsa mosque, . . . it should also be unthinkable to put an end to the quiet Jewish services on the Mount. If under the tenure of Omer Bar-Lev as minister of public security the police understood this well and Jordan, [which plays an official role in managing the Islamic holy places in Jerusalem], has swallowed this bitter pill, then during the renewed tenure of Benjamin Netanyahu and perhaps that of Itamar Ben-Gvir as the minister of public security—[an end to Jewish prayer] is certainly something that should not be entertained. Now, when the government is just about to change, is not the time to make any declarations, but simply to carry on.

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