King Abdullah II of Jordan came to Washington D.C. in February 2017 to attend the National Prayer Breakfast. We once again spoke eloquently about “tolerance, mercy, compassion for others, mutual respect.” He stated clearly his belief that people should be “equal in dignity” and that there should be “respect for the houses of God.” Welcome words, particularly from the leader of a country with a terrible history of treating Jews and Jewish holy places.
As reviewed in “Jordan’s Deceit and Hunger for Control of Jerusalem,” Jordan attacked Israel several times, banned Jews from their holy places and instituted an anti-Semitic nationality law that specifically excluded Jews from getting Jordanian citizenship.
But Jordan made peace with Israel in 1994 and perhaps King Abdullah may finally be ready to take the next step in recognizing Jewish rights in Jerusalem.
After the Gaza War in 2014, the Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank were looking for a way to express their anger at Israel. On the Jewish Temple Mount in Jerusalem, dozens of Muslim women began to actively protest Jews coming onto the plaza. They would follow the visitors around the site and yell “Allahu Akbar” in efforts to intimidate them to leave the area.
Men joined these protestors as well, sometimes throwing rocks at the Jewish visitors. These “Mourabitoun” were actively promoted by the terrorist group Hamas, and tacitly approved by the Waqf that administers the holy site. The Waqf is funded by the Jordanian government.
Because of the Mourabitoun, the number of Jews that get to visit the Jewish Temple Mount is a fraction of the tourists that ascend to the complex each day. Armed Israeli guards vet each Jews that goes up to ensure that they have no prayer books and do not pray during the visit. The soldiers surround these small groups of 10-15 people as they methodically go to discrete areas of the site.
Meanwhile, thousands of non-Jewish tourists get to visit Judaism’s holiest site unimpeded.
If Abdullah wants to be a man true to his word, it is time to denounce the Mourabitoun and give Jews the tolerance and mutual respect he says is necessary for a peaceful world. It is time for the Waqf to not stand in the way of Jewish visitors who used to pray freely on the Temple Mount 450 years ago, before Suleiman kicked them from the site and relegated a small section of the western retaining wall of the mount – the Kotel – for Jewish prayer.
Will Abdullah be a man of his word in advancing peace and respect as he advocated at a prayer breakfast? Or will he be a hypocrite and anti-Semite who cannot show mutual respect to Jews? It is time for action, not just words.
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