Time for King Abdullah of Jordan to Denounce the Mourabitoun

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.

abdullah-prayer-breakfast
Jordanian King Abdullah II speaking at National Prayer Breakfast
February 2, 2017

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.

The Mourabitoun

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 ad 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.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Waqf and the Temple Mount

Visitor Rights on the Temple Mount

It’s the Temple Mount, Not the Western Wall

It is Time to Insert “Jewish” into the Names of the Holy Sites

The UN’s Disinterest in Jewish Rights at Jewish Holy Places

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Joint Prayer: The Cave of the Patriarchs and the Temple Mount

This weekend, thousands of Jews from around Israel and other parts of the world came to the Cave of the Patriarchs in the city of Hebron. The annual tradition of visiting the city on this weekend goes back many years, as it coincides with the reading in the Torah of Abraham buying land to bury his wife Sarah, the “first mother” of the Jewish people.

The Cave of the Patriarchs is considered the burial place of almost all of the “founding fathers and mothers” of Judaism 3700 years ago: Abraham; Isaac; Jacob; Sarah; Rebecca and Leah. As such, it is considered the second most holy site in Judaism (on par with Medina for Muslims).

Roughly 2,000 years ago, a monumental structure was built on top of the cave, attributed to the Jewish King Herod. Over the following centuries, many people conquered the city of Hebron. About 800 years ago, the Muslim Mamlukes took over the city and declared the Tomb of the Patriarchs to be a mosque and forbade Jews from coming beyond the seventh step of the structure.

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The Cave of Jewish Patriarchs in Hebron

When the Ottomans ruled Hebron from 1517 to 1917, there was relative peace between the Arabs and Jews in the city (even though the Jews were forbidden from entering their holy site). However, in 1929, Arabs rioted against their Jewish neighbors after incitement from the Grand Mufti in Jerusalem. During those few days in August, 67 Jews were killed, hundreds were injured, and the British (who then controlled the mandate of Palestine) forced all of the Jews to leave their city.

In 1967, in response to the Jordanian (and Palestinian) attack on Israel, Israel captured Judea and Samaria, including the city of Hebron. When Israel took control of their holy site, it opened the shrine for prayer for both Jews and Muslims. Today, there are discreet times set aside for each religion to use the site for prayer.


In 2014, the discussion about opening the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – Judaism’s holiest site – to non-Muslim prayer has again been raised due to the shooting of Jewish activist Yehuda Glick who fought for that basic right. The acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas was outraged at the suggestion and described such approach as amounting to a “religious war“, as the al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits on the Temple Mount, is Islam’s third holiest site. While Glick and many other activists never suggested praying at or near the mosque, but on other parts of the 35 acre platform, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nevertheless agreed to keep the status quo ban on Jewish prayer on the mount.

On the tenth anniversary of Yaser Arafat’s (fungus be upon him) death, Abbas stated: “The leaders of Israel are making a grave mistake by thinking that history can move backward and that they could impose facts on the ground by dividing the Aksa Mosque in time and space, as they did with the Ibrahimi Mosque [Cave of the Patriarchs] in Hebron.

In Hebron, Israeli action at the Cave of the Patriarchs opened the way for both Muslims and Jews to share holy sites in the holy land. The Temple Mount could similarly become a place of tolerance and prayer.

 


Sources:

Pilgrimage to Hebron: http://unitedwithisrael.org/thousands-flocked-to-hebron/

Cave of Patriarchs: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/machpelah.html

1929 Hebron massacre: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hebron29.html

Jordanian and Palestinian 1967 attack on Israel (from King of Jordan’s site): http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo/his_periods3.html

Abbas claim of religious war: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/11/abbas-israel-jerusalem-holy-site

Palestinian Authority TV on call to “purify” Jerusalem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1gIetnpxH0

Abbas against any change in allowing Jews on Temple Mount: http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Jailed-Barghouti-to-Palestinians-Continue-armed-resistance-against-Israel-381454

FirstOneThrough article on tolerance at the Temple: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/tolerance-at-the-temple/