Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fire on the Mount

A bit of history: on the evening of June 10, 1967, the last day of the Six Days' War (which 42 years later is in fact still going on), the Israeli bulldozer made a debut appearance in United Jerusalem, Eternal Capital of Israel etc.etc.etc. The inhabitants of the Mugrabi Quarter – a neighbourhood of thousands of people, which had existed for hundreds of years – were given expulsion orders, effective immediately. Within a few hours, the entire neighbourhood was razed and wiped off the face of the earth. As later told by Etan Ben Moshe, the officer in charge, an old woman who did not leave her home was crushed to death, her body found the next morning under the ruins of her home.

It was not done because of any deed with which the inhabitants were charged. Simply. it was their bad luck that they lived near the Wailing Wall. Moshe Dayan, the then all-powerful Minister of Defence, wanted to have a very big open space to all the Jewish worshippers who would come to pray at the Wailing Wall. So was created the great , wide (and not exactly beautiful) Wailing Wall Plaza,

You can read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mughrabi_Quarter

At least. Dayan had the sense not to go too far in provoking the Arabs and Muslims. The Jews were given a big and wide place for prayers at the Wailing Wall, and the Mount above left to the Muslims who had been praying there for 1300 years already. It just happens that this place was very holy and precious to about a billion people all over the world, and it would be unhealthy to heat them up. True, the Jewish Temple had stood there once upon a time, and when the Messiah comes it might stand there again Meanwhile, the Chief Rabbinical Council ruled unanimously that until the coming of the Messiah it is neither worthwhile nor advisable to ascend the Mount – if fact, it is strictly prohibited on purely religious grounds.

That was 42 years ago. Meanwhile things have changed – and not for the better. A new generation of rabbis has arisen – nationalist rabbis, settler rabbis, fanatic rabbis, provocateur rabbis, rabbis who are already used to create accomplished facts at every hill and vale. Now they cast covetous eyes also at this holy mount, caring not at all that they are setting aflame a very big fire.

How shall we put off the fire? There is needed a clear and unequivocal declaration, on the most senior level of the State of Israel: This Mount is a Muslim place of prayer, and so it will stay. Jews wanting to pray in this area have a big and wide plaza available at the Wailing Wall. To climb the Mount they can – but only as guests of the Muslim owners. Those for whom this is not enough will just have to wait patiently until the coming of the Messiah.

A governmental declaration? Certainly not from Binyamin Netanyahu's government. Meanwhile, the fire will continue to burn. It might burn all of us.

A Temple? No, thanks!

A small question. Supposing that the space was completely open, and that it was possible to create a Jewish Temple without harming anybody and without provoking a billion Muslims, would that have been what we really want, in the Israel of 2009? To go back to the time when the public slaughter of living beings was the peak of religious worship?

If there are people living among us who get a sublime feeling of closeness to God by watching poor sheep and cows being killed and their blood scattered around, they can get complete satisfaction by just going to the nearest abattoir. And they had better also see a psychiatrist.