Israeli security forces guard while Jews visit the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City, during the Passover holiday, April 10, 2023. Photo by Naama Stern/Flash90 Naama Stern/Flash90
Temple Mount

But whose rights and ties to the site are irrefutable?

By Christine Williams, FrontPage Magazine

The Biden administration has again condemned Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount, while Saudi Arabia called the visit a “provocation to all Muslims around the world.

Back in January, Senator Ted Cruz ripped Biden’s condemnation of an earlier Ben-Gvir visit to the Temple Mount, stating an undeniable and simple truth:

“A visit by a minister from Israel’s government to a site inside Israel is not a change in any status quo arrangement, and it should not be controversial for a Jew to visit the holiest site in Judaism.“

Then in May, the Biden administration again “expressed deep misgivings with National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s ‘provocative’ visit to the Temple Mount,” accusing Ben-Gvir (not the Palestinians) of  “inflammatory rhetoric and politicizing the holy site.”

This time around, on Thursday, Ben Gvir was joined by an “estimated 2,000 Jews, including lawmakers….on the holiday of Tisha b’Av, when Jews worldwide mourn the destruction of the first and second Holy Temples in Jerusalem.”

Going back to when Ben-Gvir first visited the holy site back in January, right after taking up his ministerial post only a week earlier, the Islamic world went into a frenzy, while the United Nations (which is now nearly indistinguishable from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation) held an emergency Security Council session over Ben-Gvir’s visit to Temple Mount.

Israel’s UN Ambassador, Gilad Erdan, slammed the session and “argued that Israel had mistakenly agreed to the status quo in 1967 to alleviate the conflict and said the Palestinians were attempting to deny Jewish ties to the site.”

The Biden administration is doing the same as the Palestinians: “denying Jewish ties to the site,” while the Saudi Foreign Ministry has just categorized Ben-Gvir’s most recent “walk-through of the site” as a “flagrant violation of all international norms and agreements” and a “provocation to all Muslims around the world.” The gloves are coming off for “reforming” Saudi Arabia.

Many remain ignorant of Islamic history, which includes the fact that Ottoman South Syrians ultimately were renamed “Palestinians” only in the 1960s. These Muslims from the surrounding region were displaced by the fall of the Ottoman Empire; they continue to advance the lie that they have an ancient historic claim to the land of “Palestine.”

The holiest Muslim sites are in Mecca and Medina. The Islamic supremacy that is declared over Jews and the Holy Land goes back many centuries, as Morton Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America, points out:

“In the seventh century, the Damascus-based Umayyad rulers built up Jerusalem as a counter-weight and hajj pilgrimage alternative to Mecca, where their political rivals were. This is when the important Muslim shrines, the Dome of the Rock (691 CE) and, later, the Al-Aqsa Mosque (705 CE), were intentionally built on the site of the destroyed biblical Jewish temples –– a time-honored practice to physically signal the predominance of Islam.”

The “status quo” agreement was reached after Six-Day War in June 1967, during which Israel reconquered the Old City of Jerusalem. Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan formulated the agreement.

Under its terms, “the Muslim Waqf, a Jordanian religious trust, would retain control of the Temple Mount. Jews would be allowed to visit the site without restrictions, though they would not be allowed to pray there. Israel would also take responsibility for security, though its forces would stay off the mount.”

But it hasn’t been that simple in the face of Palestinian violence. Aside from praying, Palestinians don’t even want Jews to visit the Temple Mount, which is contrary to the Status Quo Agreement, which should not have been concluded in the first place, given Jewish history and the Jews’ rightful claim to the Holy Land.

Although Dayan formulated the agreement in order to pacify hostile Arab forces that were bent on obliterating Israel, his decision does not alter the reality about Jewish rights or about the violent outbreaks on the Temple Mount.

Heedless of the ongoing jihad against the state of Israel and denial of the rights of its citizens to worship on the Temple Mount, the Biden administration has drawn its own line in the sand, as it condemned Ben-Gvir’s visit again, saying it “stands firmly for the preservation of the historic status quo with respect to the holy sites in Jerusalem. Any unilateral action or rhetoric that jeopardizes the status quo is unacceptable.”

Reminder: the status quo allows visits, and to be realistic, no rational person would expect that Jews would not pray silently when visiting.

Like the Biden administration, “the Gaza-based Hamas terror group said Ben-Gvir’s visit was a dangerous escalation,” but went further to pledge to “defend the identity of the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque and protect its Islamic and Arab character at all costs.”

Ben Gvir has made the compelling case that “the absence of Jewish visitors on the flashpoint site would mean fewer Israeli police officers stationed there, “which will create fertile ground for massive demonstrations of incitement to murder Jews and even a scenario in which stones will be thrown at Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall.” He added that “when terrorism strikes us, we must hit back with tremendous force, not surrender.”

The Palestinian “resistance” has become a central Democrat issue. Biden’s own ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, stated: “I spend 60% of my time trying to help the Palestinian people.” To add to the Biden administration’s demonstrable hostility toward Israel, the Squad — Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, and Cori Bush — boycotted Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s recent speech to Congress.

Ben Gvir and supporters of his visit to the Temple Mount are essentially taking back what should never have been surrendered in the first place to appease Muslims.

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