The New York Times has formulated a new approach for reducing the importance of the Temple Mount to Jews and Judaism by reframing the language of its journalists.
Refer to the site by the preferred name of Muslims, “al Aqsa Mosque compound”
State that it’s the holiest location IN JERUSALEM for both Muslims and Jews
There was a time – before the Democratic Slide on Israel – that the paper would refer to the site as the Temple Mount, or sometimes the Temple Mount/ al Aqsa compound. No longer. Now the paper’s official designation is Al Aqsa Mosque compound, and if appropriate for context, will add that Jews call it the Temple Mount. Such is the approach of the anti-Israel United Nations, and now seemingly, of the global paper.
As the paper reduces the Jewish connection to the site, it is simultaneously elevating its status among Muslims.
The paper does not inform readers that Al Aqsa is the THIRD holiest site for Muslims, and that Muslims face Mecca when they pray, even while standing at the mosque. Instead, the paper states that within the narrow confines of Jerusalem, it is Islam’s holist spot.
With such qualifier, the paper equated Judaism’s holiest site, where all Jewish prayers have been directed for 3,000 years, in the city that only Jews made into their capital every time they had self-determination, and where they are directed to visit three times every year, to having a status on par with Islam. That the very word “Zionism” is specifically about Jews returning to Jerusalem is lost on the paper despite the legions hired to cover the region. No religion nor people have as close a connection to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem as Judaism and the Jews. None. But the Times misleads, misinforms and misdirects.
That the editors of The Times let this fly is absolutely horrible journalism. That the paper’s editors likely directed this action based on it showing up repeatedly under different bylines, is outrageous.
The New York Times is involved in a disinformation campaign to reduce the significance of the Jewish Temple Mount and of Jerusalem to its liberal readership. You should ask yourselves and them why it is doing so.
In 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty that saw Israel relinquish roughly 380 square kilometers to Jordan and set a framework for the two countries to live peacefully together side-by-side.
The treaty had a section that dealt with religious tolerance. Article 9.2 is often misquoted by Jordanian King Abdullah that he is a “custodian” of Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, when it merely states that “Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem.” Abdullah never talks about clause 9.3:
Despite the treaty to promote religious tolerance, peace and freedom of worship, Jordan praised Palestinian Arab rioters on the Jewish Temple Mount in April 2022. Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh said “I salute every Palestinian, and all the employees of the Jordanian Islamic Waqf, who proudly stand like minarets, hurling their stones in a volley of clay at the Zionist sympathizers defiling the Al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of the Israeli occupation government.“
This is appalling on its own – a senior government official promoting violence against civilians – and flies in the face of the tenet of the peace treaty signed between the parties. Article 4.3B states that each country will “refrain from organizing, instigating, inciting, assisting or participating in acts or threats of belligerency, hostility, subversion or violence against the other Party,” which is exactly what the Jordanian Foreign Minister did.
It gets worse.
It was reported that Jordan is now asking the United States to pressure Israel to give complete control of the Jewish Temple Mount Compound to the Jordanian Waqf, and to forcibly ban Jewish prayer at Judaism’s holiest site.
Jordan seemingly doesn’t believe there is any price to pay for instigating violence against Israeli Jews, and should actually be rewarded with a greater role in the land Jordan illegally seized in 1949 and then formally withdrew from in 1988.
Israel might want to keep its part of the peace treaty with Jordan in acknowledging the “special role” Jordan plays narrowly at the al-Aqsa Mosque, much the way a guardian takes care of a ward with “special needs.” Make them feel important. But everyone understands that the guardian is in control and will make all substantive decisions.
As Passover, Easter and Ramadan all converged this year, tensions ran hot in Jerusalem. In that backdrop, Reuters seemingly wanted to fan some Arab fire against the Jews.
In an article called “Jordan’s king agreed with U.S. Biden on need to defuse Jerusalem tension – state media,” Reuters acted as the Jordanian mouthpiece without fact-checking anything in its coverage. It wrote that Jordan’s King “Abdullah, whose Hashemite dynasty is the custodian of Muslim and Christian sites in the Old City, has spearheaded a diplomatic offensive to put pressure on Israel, whom he blames for the escalation at the Aqsa compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.”
This is not true.
The 1994 Israeli-Jordanian Peace Treaty, Article 9.2 stated “In this regard, in accordance with the Washington Declaration, Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.”
Jordan is not a “custodian” but has a special role, and it only relates to Muslim sites.
The deeply flawed Reuters article also noted that “The confrontations since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that have coincided with Passover have raised religious passions amid international concerns about a slide back into a wider Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Why did the article point out ‘the Muslim holy month’ but declined to comment about the ‘Jewish holy week’ of Passover? Why did the article fail to state that Judaism calls for Jews to visit the Jewish holy city of Jerusalem three times a year – including Passover – but there is no such specific call for Muslims to visit Jerusalem EVER.
The article failed to note that 150,000 Palestinians visited the Jewish Temple Mount/ al Aqsa Mosque on Friday – a single day total – when the entire population of Jews that ascended to the Jewish Temple Mount was a mere 4,200 people OVER AN ENTIRE WEEK.
Instead, Reuters concluded the article with this unchallenged piece of biased inanity:
“Jordan and fellow Arab states accused Israel in a meeting on Thursday in Amman of restricting the right of worship of Muslims while allowing ultra-nationalist Jews under police protection to enter the mosque compound.“
Reuters did not describe the hundreds of thousands of Muslims who visited the site as Islamic radicals, but opted to paint a handful of Jews visiting their holist location during the holiday which specifically calls for them to visit, as “ultra-nationalist Jews.” A reader is directly led to the incorrect conclusion that a handful of Jews has spurred the problem, rather than Hamas and Hezbollah which have been urging violence in the holy city.
The article also failed to report that the Israeli government, succumbing to threats of more Islamic radical violence, banned Jews from visiting the Mount during the remaining days of Ramadan, even while Passover was still being celebrated.
Reuters hit piece on religious Jews and elevation of the stature of the small Jordanian king was a disgraceful piece of journalism. That its smears get picked up and reprinted by media outlets around the world makes it a global Jewish blood libel.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, who serves as the President of Reform Judaism, took to the pages of the Jerusalem Post on December 23, 2021 to demand prayer space for non-Orthodox Jews on the Jewish Temple Mount. Long frustrated by the delay in implementing an egalitarian space at the Kotel, the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount, Jacobs thought it was time to move on.
“We created a painful but fair compromise that would make the Kotel a place for all Jewish people, from the most liberal to the most orthodox,” but the Israeli government has yet to institute the agreed upon solution, as “Netanyahu capitulated to pressure from the ultra-Orthodox parties” wrote Jacobs. “Making space at the Wall for pluralistic Jewish prayer will proclaim that there is more than one authentic way to live a Jewish life of meaning and purpose,” but alas, Jacobs does not see that happening.
Jacobs noted that the current Israeli government is unlikely to push forward on implementing the compromise solution so he has decided to move on – to the Temple Mount itself.
Jacobs noted that the Orthodox Jews truly revere the Kotel and he is fine letting them have it. He is going up top, with specific rights for non-Orthodox Jews. He added “Orthodox will have sole control over the prayer space that they cherish. For the first time, the non-Orthodox will have a dignified space where we can pray,” on the Al Aqsa Compound. He called this divide a “Solomonic solution, teaching all Jews the power of compromise and unity, and fulfilling Isaiah’s bold prophecy.“
When questioned whether he thought the Islamic Waqf would have an issue with non-Orthodox prayer on what Muslims revere as the Al Aqsa Compound, he was nonplussed. “The Waqf doesn’t want ‘settlers’ praying on the Temple Mount but the non-Orthodox worshippers will be tourists from abroad as there are virtually no non-Orthodox Israelis who visit the site.“
When pressed further about the Reform movement’s views on ‘settlements’ including the Old City of Jerusalem, Jacobs said that Reform Judaism “has a long-standing policy of opposition to the Israeli settlements in the West Bank,” and also opposes “eviction/displacement of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, [and] elsewhere in East Jerusalem,” but he doesn’t think there is hypocrisy in advocating for non-Orthodox Jewish prayer on the the Temple Mount.
“Let me be clear, the current Israeli government does not believe in religious freedom and equality for non-Orthodox Jews,” so it’s time to bring our case before the Islamic Waqf. He added that “Judaism and Islam stem from the same foundational idea that we are the Children of Abraham, descendants of our common patriarchs and matriarchs,” and is sure that the Muslims will welcome non-Israeli, non-Orthodox Jewish extremists to pray alongside them on the Al Aqsa Compound.
“Inshallah,” he added. That will really be the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy “For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all. (Isaiah 56:7)“
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) laid out 30 principles which all people are afforded around the world. The United Nations often quotes it, except when it relates to Jews.
UDHR Article 2 states that all people all entitled to rights and freedoms, regardless of “race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” That clearly covers Jews – even those from Israel or from disputed territories.
UDHR Article 18 covers faith, including its practices: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” Many Muslim countries trample on the ability to change religion, banning apostasy in their constitutions, a flagrant violation of the UDHR which is never discussed at the United Nations due to Muslim Privilege.
The ability for Jews to pray as is their historic custom and right is not ignored at the UN, but countered in a ban outrageously embraced and enshrined.
The Jewish Temple Mount
The holiest location for Jews is the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been the center of Jewish focus and prayer for over 3,000 years, after King David moved the Jewish people’s capital there from Hebron, and his son, King Solomon, built the First Temple. For most of the first thousand years, Jews had a temple at different times on the site, offering animal sacrifices in accordance with the direction of the Hebrew bible. After the Second Temple was destroyed in 70CE, Jews still climbed the mount to offer silent prayer, and did so for 1,500 years.
The Ottomans came to the Jewish holy land in 1517, and Suleiman I (1494-1566) rebuilt much of Jerusalem including the iconic city walls. As part of his vast Jerusalem projects, he kicked the Jews off of the Temple Mount and afforded them a small sliver of the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount – the Western Wall or Kotel – for prayer. Jews have effectively been banned from praying on their holiest site since that time.
The Ottoman Empire ended in 1916 but the world did not consider addressing the catastrophic dangers of deeply-rooted anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia until after World War II and the Holocaust of European Jewry.
The Enabling Hands Blocking Jewish Prayer Rights
In December 1948, the world sought to put an end to wars and hatreds and drew up the UDHR in the hope that people could be respectful to others who are different. The mention of religion in the articles was a direct result of the atrocities which befell Jews at the hands of non-Jews, as described in the preamble, regarding the “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.“
Yet as the global body drafted these rights, the Jewish State was fighting for its very survival against several invading Arab armies. The invading Jordanian army ethnically-cleansed all Jews from the eastern part of the holy land, including the Old City of Jerusalem, just a few years after the Holocaust. The Jordanians went on to ban Jews from even visiting or praying in the city, including at the Kotel and Temple Mount.
The vile Muslim anti-Semitism was addressed when Jordan attacked Israel again in June 1967 and lost its illegally seized lands, enabling Jews to move into their holy city once again. However, to facilitate a ceasefire with the various Muslim countries which had tried to destroy the Jewish State, Israel allowed the Jordanian Waqf to continue to administer the Temple Mount and maintain its ban on Jewish prayer.
To this day, the United Nations demands a change in the status quo of Israel controlling the eastern part of Jerusalem including the Old City, while simultaneously demanding maintaining the anti-Semitic policy of banning Jews from praying at their holiest site. It’s practical madness, in trying to appease the dozens of Muslim UN member nations while trampling on the basic human rights of Jews.
This Chanukah, at a time when Jews around the world place their menorahs in their windows to show the world that they celebrate Jewish prayer rights on the Temple Mount, let’s demand that the government of the State of Israel assert with clarity that the dignity of Jews matters. Jews have an inalienable right to pray at their holiest location, the Jewish Temple Mount.
On August 24, 1929, Palestinian Arabs incited a riot throughout the Jewish holy land with rumors that Jews were attempting to seize and destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. In Hebron, sixty-nine Jews were brutally slaughtered and hundreds were maimed and injured. The catastrophe was so horrific, that the British who were ruling the land under international mandate, felt compelled to evacuate all of the Jews from the city as they did not feel it would be safe for any Jew to remain among the majority Arab population, ethnically-cleansing the Jewish victims from their holy city.
On the 92nd anniversary of the Arab massacre of Jews, The New York Times wrote an article about Jews praying on the Temple Mount. It characterized the Jews as having a history of aggressively pushing onto a Muslim holy site inciting riots.
The article began with stating that Israel forbids Jews from praying on the Temple Mount, which is true, but it did not state that Israel was maintaining the anti-Semitic policy instituted by Jordan of banning Jewish prayer when it illegally ruled the city. The omission was minor in comparison to the paper’s recap of history.
The paper noted that Israel is in charge of security and the Jordanian waqf is responsible for administrative matters on the Temple Mount, but “when the balance of power has teetered,” bad events happen. The Times listed the visit of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2000 setting off the “Second Intifada“; Israel installing metal detectors in 2017 that led to riots; and Israeli police “raid[ing] the compound several times last spring” provoking an 11-day war with Hamas. In each situation, Israeli actions were attributed as the provocation which led to deaths and destruction.
Misleading its readership, the Times did not write that the “Second Intifada” which began in 2000 was the result of Yasser Arafat, the head of the Palestinian Authority, rejecting the Israeli peace offer capping the Oslo Accords, which would have given Palestinians roughly 98% of their demands, and instead opting for a multi-year war. The Times did not describe Arabs shooting police officers on the Temple Mount in 2017 which led to the decision to install metal detectors. The paper omitted the Arab riots over the evictions of squatters in homes in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood next to the Old City and the Palestinian Authority cancelling elections which made HAMAS launch hundreds of missiles at Israeli towns.
The Times inverted every story, and recast the Arab attackers as victims.
Obviously, the paper left out the massacre of 69 Jews in Hebron as it revealed that Arabs murder Jews for perceived threats, not actual force.
The New York Times is attempting to rewrite history that Jews are responsible for war, a smear promoted in the infamous forgery ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ and in the HAMAS Charter. It is a vile tactic which anti-Semites have used for a long time. That the Times would specifically do it on the anniversary of the 1929 Hebron Massacre marks its editors as cruel sadists as well.
The Anti-Zionist Lexicon continues to evolve in sinister ways.
The term “settlers” once only referred to Israelis who moved to remote new “settlement” locations. The term then was modified to only apply to Israeli Jews, not Israeli Arabs who moved into new settlements. Later it was adjusted by anti-Zionists to target any Jew (Israeli or not) who moved into EXISTING homes and towns east of the Green Line (EGL), so an Israeli Arab and Israeli Jew could be living next to each other in an apartment building in Jerusalem, in which the Arab is called a “resident” while the Jew is called a “settler.”
Nuts. And it gets worse.
Yesterday, on the solemn Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av which marks the destruction of the Jewish Temples in Jerusalem as well as other Jewish tragedies, many Jews from around Israel went to visit the Jewish Temple Mount during normal Sunday visiting hours. The Palestinian Authority, Al Jazeera and a number of anti-Zionist publications decried the visit of the “settlers.” The sub-headline from Al Jazeera read:
“Palestinians accuse Israeli forces of launching tear gas, rubber bullets at Palestinians as Israeli settlers enter Al-Aqsa compound.“
These were regular Israeli Jews – not people who lived in remote locations in the “West Bank” – who came to visit Judaism’s holiest location on a Jewish holiday during regular visiting hours. But the language chosen was alarmist, as the Palestinian Authority is demanding a return to the anti-Semitic situation imposed during the nineteen years of Jordanian control of Jerusalem, in which Jews were not only barred from living in the city but could not visit or pray there as well.
The mobilization of redefinitions is gathering steam in the anti-Zionist press. Al Jazeera posted much the same on May 23rd in article titled “Backed by Israeli police, Jewish settlers enter Al-Aqsa compound,” talking about Israeli police beating Muslims to “make way for Israeli Jewish settlers to storm the compound,” in an effort to inflame a global holy war against the Jews.
This is the evolving regressive approach of jihadist extremists and their enablers. They are working to change language to change the narrative that any and all Jews entering the Jewish Temple Mount are unwanted and illegal invaders of purely Islamic holy site. Yesterday, the Israeli Islamist party Ra’am said so specifically, that the Temple Mount is “solely the property of Muslims, and no one else has any right to it.“
Islamist extremists are attempting to label any Jew who visits Judaism’s holiest location as an illegal invader in an attempt to draw support for a global jihad against the most persecuted people in the world. They should be loudly rebuked for doing so.
On July 31, 2020, the New York Times wrote a moving piece about the annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the hajj. It described how the coronavirus limited the number of people who could attend the hajj this year and the various steps which the kingdom undertook to try to protect the health of the smaller gathering to Islam’s holiest location.
I looked to see if the Times covered the solemn day of the Ninth of Av (July 30, 2020), when Jews traveled to Jerusalem, the Western Wall and the Jewish Temple Mount to mourn the destruction of the first and second temples. While Jewish media outlets like the Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel wrote about it, the Times ignored the story.
The Times did write a 1,300-word article about the Temple Mount on May 15, 2020 when it described how Muslims could not visit the site for Ramadan because of the pandemic. It seemed that Islam’s third holiest site which has no specific connection to Ramadan was an important focus for the liberal paper even as it ignored writing about the pandemic’s impact on Jews visiting their holiest site on Jewish holidays.
I looked back further to see if the Times covered any of the three Jewish holidays which call upon Jews to visit Jerusalem and the Temple Mount: Shavuot (celebrated May 28-30, 2020), Passover (celebrated April 8-19 this year) and Sukkot (which will be celebrated October 2-9, 2020). It did.
On March 30 it published an article “For Shut-In Pilgrims, the World’s Holiest Sites Are a Click Away,” which covered Jerusalem, Mecca and Rome. While Mecca was devoted to Muslims and Rome to Christians, the Times described Jerusalem from the vantage point of “Passover, Easter and Ramadan — touchstone holidays of three major religions.” Not only was Judaism not worthy of a unique article as was Islam (twice, in May and July), but when an article was written, the other monotheistic faiths were also covered, AND when Judaism’s holiest city was mentioned, it was noted as holy to other faiths as well.
Christianity and Islam pushed their religions globally for over one thousand years, converting and killing non-believers. Their numbers now count in the billions and their faithful are spread around the globe, while the Jewish population was decimated with only about 15 million people today, of which 84% live in Israel and the United States. Arguably the paltry sum of Jews makes them barely worth mentioning to global papers.
But it’s the deliberate denial of Jewish Jerusalem that irks me.
The July 31 NY Times article explained to its readers that “the hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is required for all Muslims who are physically and financially able to go at least once in their lifetimes.” ONCE IN THEIR LIFETIMES. Why only once? Because there are 1.8 billion Muslims living all over the world. After pushing the religion around the globe it is impossible for so many people to come to Islam’s holiest city every year.
In contrast, Judaism calls on all Jews to visit Jerusalem and the Temple Mount THREE TIMES EVERY YEAR. It calls on Jews to do this because the religion was not orchestrated to spread to the corners of the world with forced conversions on the masses, inflating the numbers of adherents. Judaism was designed as a local religion for a small nation, in the Jewish holy land with its holy city in the center.
I appreciate the beautiful article The New York Times wrote about Mecca and Islam. I wonder if it will ever write with such sensitivity about the Jews, Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple Mount.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France is notable for its beauty in many respects including the remarkable stained glass windows and the flying buttresses which support the large structure. In April 2019, a fire destroyed the roof and much of the furniture, but the core elements of the building remained intact. Still, prayer services have been cancelled until repairs can be made.
Despite the centrality of this important church, church-goers made arrangements to pray elsewhere. The other houses of worship may not be ideal yet they serve the same basic function of prayer. The devout French do not line up for services outside the charred remains while waiting the day they can enter.
Only Jews do that.
The Jewish Temple which stood in the center of the Temple Mount was destroyed on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av nearly 2,000 years ago. Still, Jews would ascend the mount to pray, as the very land was holy even without the Temple being present.
Around 1550, Ottoman leader Suleiman I made various structural improvements to the city of Jerusalem, including rebuilding the exterior city walls. While he made improvements to the Temple Mount which by then held the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, he pushed the Jews off of the Mount and set aside the supporting western wall of the Temple Mount as a designated area for the Jews to pray.
Jews have been praying at this retaining wall of the Temple Mount ever sense.
On this ninth day of Av, let us not forget that the Western Wall is simply a talisman, an object to rub to bring us luck, while the holiest spot for Jews remains only meters away but off-limits to Jewish prayer according to current laws. In a world afire with quests for social and racial justice, it is well past time to fight for religious justice for Jews to ascend and openly pray at their holiest location.
No Parisian would ever imagine praying at Notre Dame’s flying buttresses, and Jews must climb above the consolation wall to re-establish their basic human rights. #JewishTempleMountPrayers
The Old City of Jerusalem including the Jewish Temple Mount/ Al Aqsa Compound
After Israel defeated the attacking Jordanian army in June 1967, it allowed the Jordanian Islamic Waqf to have administrative control of the Jewish Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem while Israel controlled the security of the area. In 1980, Israel officially applied sovereignty and reunited the city of Jerusalem as its eternal capital but still allowed the Jordanian Waqf to administer Judaism’s holiest site. And in Israel’s 1994 peace treaty with Jordan, the country continued to be sensitive to Jordan, stating “Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.”
However, in recent months, Jordan has come out very aggressively against Israel’s contemplated application of sovereignty over more of the west bank of the Jordan River.
In May 2020, Jordanian Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz said “We will not accept unilateral Israeli moves to annex Palestinian lands and we would be forced to review all aspects of our relations with Israel.” King Abdullah also said that if Israel “really annexes the West Bank in July, it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.”
In light of the statements and contemplated reaction by Jordan, it makes sense for Israel to approach both Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to see if they would be interested in taking over the role of the Jordanian Waqf in Jerusalem.
Egypt has maintained a peace treaty with Israel since 1979 and there is a good working relationship with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Israel’s relationship with KSA has improved in recent years, especially because of the countries mutual distrust of Iran. As the guardian of Mecca and Medina, KSA would logically welcome the role to extend its guardianship of Islamic holy sites, and the move could be part of an important peace treaty with Saudi Arabia.
The Old City of Jerusalem including the Jewish Temple Mount/ Al Aqsa Compound during the Jewish holiday of Passover
Jordan’s threat to abandon its peace agreement with Israel is an opening for Israel to offer Saudi Arabia a place in Jerusalem and to forge a new peace agreement with the powerful kingdom. In light of the Trump Administration’s deep ties with KSA, it makes sense to advance those initiatives now.