Another Jewish holiday, another Arab attack on Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount. This time, it was the religious holiday of Shavuot, on June 5, exactly a week after Jerusalem Day, May 29, when Arabs last threw rocks and Molotov cocktails from inside Al-Aqsa at Jewish pilgrims. A report on the latest outbreak of Arab violence on Temple Mount is here: “Police clash with Palestinians on Temple Mount as Jews visit during Shavuot holiday,” Times of Israel, June 5, 2022
Police scuffled with Palestinians on Jerusalem’s flashpoint Temple Mount holy site on Sunday morning as Jews toured the compound during the Shavuot holiday.
Palestinians barricaded themselves inside the compound’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and threw stones at police in response to the visits. There were no reports of injuries or arrests in the incident.
The Palestinians constantly allege that Israeli Jews are “desecrating” the Al-Aqsa Mosque. But it is the Palestinians themselves who desecrate the mosque, by using it both as a place to store weapons – rocks, and bottles ready to be quickly transformed into Molotov cocktails – and as a military encampment from which they hurl those weapons at Jewish visitors and Israeli police.
Footage from the scene showed officers outside the mosque doors, while Palestinians barricaded inside threw stones out of windows and chanted “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great.”
The Israeli police did not enter – did not “desecrate” – the mosque. The Palestinians, who turned the mosque into a fortress, are the true desecrators, uttering their war cry of “Allahu akbar,” that means not that “God is great” — as even the Times of Israel translates it — but that “our [Muslim] god is greater than yours.”
Other videos showed a small group of Jews walking through the plaza surrounded by police, with Palestinians trailing the Jewish group holding Palestinian flags and shouting.
The visits by Jewish groups continued as usual under police protection, Hebrew media reported.
As the Jews quietly walked – as always, no Jewish prayers were allowed to be said – on the plaza, they were followed by a group of taunting, chanting Arabs, carrying Palestinian flags. The Jews were kept safe by the Israeli police who surrounded them; without that protective phalanx of police, the enraged Arabs – how dare Jews visit our Muslim site? — would certainly have attacked the small contingent of Jews.
The Temple Mount — which also houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque — is administered by the Waqf, a religious trust run and funded by Jordan. The site is the holiest place for Jews, as the site of the biblical temples, and Al-Aqsa is the third holiest shrine in Islam, turning the area into a major flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Under an increasingly frayed arrangement known as the status quo, Jews are generally allowed to visit the Temple Mount during limited hours, but not pray there or perform other acts of worship that can be seen as a provocation to Muslims.
Most of the world does not realize, nor appreciate, the constraints that Israel places on Jewish visitors to the holiest site in Judaism. In order to avoid offending Muslim sensibilities, ever since Israel took possession of the Temple Mount in 1967 it has prohibited Jews at the site from saying prayers aloud or even silently mouthing them. It has also limited visits by Jews to three hours in the morning, and one hour in the afternoon, and then only from Sunday to Thursday. Meanwhile, Muslim visitors can visit at any time of day, and on every day of the week.
National-religious Orthodox Jewish activists have increasingly pushed to allow Jewish prayer on the site, which was once a fringe view, and public opinion has begun to shift in that direction. A poll released late last month found that half of Jewish Israelis supported allowing Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, with most of the respondents who supported that position saying they held the view “because it is proof of Israel’s sovereignty” over the site.
In recent years there has been a relaxation of the prohibition on silent prayers by Jews. And more Jews have been urging that they be allowed to say prayers aloud as well. They point out that the Muslims remain unappeased by that prohibition, but are in a constant state of fury at Jewish visitors to the Mount. Since allowing those visitors to say prayers aloud will not appreciably increase that fury, so the argument goes, why not let the Jews say them?
Late last month, a record number of Jews visited the Temple Mount to mark Jerusalem Day, prompting rebukes from Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. According to the Israel Police, some 2,600 Jews were granted entry to the holy site in groups of 40-50.
The Muslims were up in arms at so many – 2,600! – Jews visiting the site on Jerusalem Day. But tens of thousands of Muslims routinely visit the Al-Aqsa site; on many Fridays, 150,000 Muslims show up; on religious holidays, there have been many more. This past April, 250,000 Muslim worshippers arrived at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to mark Qadr Night (Laylat al-Qadr in Arabic), a significant date on the Islamic calendar during the month of Ramadan.
Those 2,600 Jewish visitors to the Mount on Jerusalem Day,, whose numbers the Palestinians and Jordanians found unacceptably large, were about 1% of the number of Muslims who appeared on the Mount during Laylat al-Qadr. A sense of proportion is not the Muslims’ strong suit.
Jerusalem Day is a national holiday marking Israel’s conquest of the Old City and East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, but is now celebrated mostly by national-religious Jews. The holiday’s contentious Flag March, which goes through Palestinian areas of the Old City, is seen by opponents as a major provocation.
The Jerusalem Day Flag March marks the reunification of Israel’s ancient capital. For as long as the march has existed – save for 2021, when tensions were deemed too high – the route has taken Jews from the Damascus Gate, through the Muslim Quarter, and it ends at the Western Wall. This year when the Jews marched, some Muslims threw rocks and bottles and even chairs at them. Most of the marchers chanted “the Jewish nation lives” upon entering the Muslim Quarter, but one group, several hundred strong out of a total of 70,000 marchers) chanted “Death to Arabs,” and “Let your village burn down.” It was not the Arab violence against the marchers, nor the 99% of Jewish marchers who sang patriotic songs and shouted “the Jewish nation lives” whom the world media focused on but, rather, on the few hundred marchers, mostly members of the nationalist group Lehava, who shouted “Death to Arabs.”
Now, as Jews visit the Temple Mount on Shavuot, the Arabs are at it again. They have barricaded themselves inside Al-Aqsa Mosque and from there have been hurling rocks at Jews outside. The media will fail to note that using the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a storehouse for weapons, and as a fortress from which to attack Jews, constitutes the true “desecration” of the holy site. Instead, many stories in the media will report that “Jews Visit Temple Mount on Shavuot and Provoke Angry Arab Response.” Provoke. Jews are always “provoking” those inoffensive and peaceful Palestinians. No wonder they throw those rocks. What else can they be expected to do?