Rick Jacobs Seeks Non-Orthodox Prayer Space on The Temple Mount

A Satire.

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.

Rick Jacobs (center) at the Kotel Plaza in 2016 advocating for an egalitarian prayer space

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 opposeseviction/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)

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The Inalienable Right of Jews to Pray on The Temple Mount

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.

Menorah at the Kotel, beneath the holiest site for Jews where the original seven-branched menorah stood on the Temple Mount.

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New York Times Buries Stories of Slaughtered Jews in Temple Mount Account

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.

New York Times article on page A4 of August 24, 2021 edition, about how quiet Jewish prayer provokes angry Muslim reaction and death.

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.


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“Settlers” Now Means Jews Stepping Over The Green Line

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.

Members of the Israeli security forces stand guard, as a group of Orthodox Jews visit the Jewish Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the annual Tisha B’Av (Ninth of Av) fasting and memorial day, commemorating the destruction of the Jewish temples, on July 18, 2021. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

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.


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NY Times Ignores Centrality of the Jewish Temple Mount

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.


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Only Jews Pray at the Flying Buttresses of Notre Dame

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


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Replacing the Jordanian Waqf on The Temple Mount

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, statingIsrael 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 saidWe 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.


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The Jewish Israeli Rosa Parks

On December 1, 1955, a black seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama refused to give up her seat at the front of the bus for a white man. In those days, segregation, the law that kept races apart, ruled the land. While black people were allowed on public transportation, they had to cede their seats in the front of the bus to white people. On that day 64 years ago, Rosa Parks was defiant and would not cater to the indecent law. Riots ensued, but ultimately, in 1964, the United States passed the Civil Rights Act which desegregated society.

Eight years earlier, on November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly voted to partition the remaining portion of the British Mandate of Palestine (the land east of the Jordan River had previously been handed to the Hashemite Kingdom at the sole discretion of the British), into distinct Jewish and Arab states. While the vote was designed to create peace by separating the two peoples living in the land by establishing two clear majority-societies based on religion and culture, it still sought to allow the minority populations to live, pray and work in the majority-ruled lands. To minimize religious tension, the holy cities of Greater Jerusalem and Greater Bethlehem were voted to be placed under an international regime.

But the Arabs rejected the partition vote as they considered all of the land to be Arab and Muslim, and launched a war to destroy the Jewish State. At war’s end, they evicted all of the Jews from the lands they conquered, including all of the holy sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron. The Arabs forbade any Jew from living, praying or visiting their Jewish holy sites during their period of control from 1949 to 1967.

The Arabs would try to destroy Israel again, with the Jordanian Arabs (and Palestinian Arabs whom had been granted Jordanian citizenship) attacking Israel in 1967, losing their illegally seized lands. Under Jewish control, Israel opened up the holy sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron and enabled everyone – even Jews! – to visit, but they opted to maintain the ban on Jewish prayer at Judaism’s holiest locations, the Temple Mount, hoping to placate the broader Muslim and Arab worlds.

It did not.

The Arab and Muslim countries dug in deeper and turned the United Nations into a complete circus of antisemitic hate. While Palestinians began hijacking planes over the following decade, the other Arab nations advanced the political theory that Zionism was racism on November 10, 1975. After the United States finally led its repeal in December 1991, the Arab world advanced the same premise at the 2001 Durban Conference Against Racism, pushing the notion that not only should Jews be barred from living in parts of the holy land, but their refusal to acquiesce to antisemitic edicts was itself racist.

The September 2000 visit by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount coincided with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s destruction of the Oslo Accords and launch of the Second Intifada which killed thousands. Rabbi Yehuda Glick’s advocacy for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount in October 2014 also brought Palestinian terrorist to shoot him and launch a “stabbing intifada.” As the antisemitic Hamas Charter says, “Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Moslem people.” The presence of Jews in Muslim lands and holy sites is considered appalling.

The United Nations joined the chorus penned by over 50 Arab and Muslim nations that Israeli Jews should not be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount, nor live east of the 1949 Armistice Lines in the Old City of Jerusalem and in the “West Bank,” the lands which the Jordanians had seized. In December 2016, the UN Security Council, with the tacit approval of the United States’ Obama administration, passed Resolution 2334 which said that banning (not even segregating!) Israeli Jews is legal, and that such people have no rights to live and work in their holy land.


Today, there are hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jewish Rosa Parks who defy the notion that laws banning Jews from natural activities which others enjoy is in any way immoral or illegal. These Jews live in Judea and Samaria, in the Old City of Jerusalem and Hebron and fight for open access and prayer at their holy sites on the Temple Mount of Jerusalem and throughout the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron. Perhaps it is time to erect a monument for these “settlers” at the UN Plaza, much as Rosa Parks got a statue in Montgomery, AL.


Jerusalem on Sukkot, a full Kotel Plaza,
but no Jews on the Temple Mount


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The Remarkable Tel Jerusalem

Archaeologists spend their time excavating and examining sites where humans lived in an effort to better understand the nature of societies from long ago. They let the physical evidence provide clues as to how people lived, what they ate and how they existed as a community.

Some of the best places to explore ancient history are found in tels, hills where one society was built upon the ruins of an earlier society. Such ruins are common in the Middle East, where there has been continuous human presence in many of the same locations for 4-5,000 years.

The issue confronting archaeologists excavating any tel is that one layer of history must be removed to be able to explore the next layer of the human past. Removing the ruins of a floor of a 13th century mosque may reveal a 5th century church, while clearing the 5th century level may reveal a municipal building from the first century BCE. History must be destroyed to find yet more ancient history. Peeling back time yields discovery via destruction.

In the holy city of Jerusalem, the challenges for archaeologists and historians becomes further ensnared in religious and political battles. Why should the ruins of a 16th century mosque be cleared to reveal an ancient Byzantine church? Why should the church be dismantled to uncover an ancient Jewish ritual bath house? Is one truth more significant than another? Does the exposure of ancient Jewish edifices impact today’s realities and political considerations? Is the destruction of an ancient house of worship in favor of another religion’s house of worship an act of historical exploration or a crusade?

The city of Jerusalem became central to the Jewish people 3,000 years ago, when King David sacked the then-Jebusite city and made it the official capital of the Jewish people in roughly 1000 BCE. His son, King Solomon, built the First Jewish Temple in the city in 950 BCE, making the city both the religious center and the political center of the people. Jews made pilgrimages to sacrifice at the temples during both the First Temple period (950 BCE – 587 BCE) and during the Second Temple period (515 BCE – 70 CE). Since the destruction of the Second Temple, Jews continued to live in and make pilgrimages to the city to pray, but without the ritual sacrifices, as Arab Muslims and Christian Crusaders took turns dominating the landscape.


City of Jerusalem during First Temple Period covered a portion of the current
Temple Mount and an area south of today’s Old City walls

Over the last several years, a team of archaeologists has been excavating an old road used by the Jewish pilgrims of two thousand-plus years ago. The “Pilgrimage Road” was one of a series of pathways that facilitated the flow of hundreds of thousands of Jews into the Jewish Temples. It’s route must have changed during the centuries as the walls of Jerusalem changed, and as archaeologists continue their excavations, undoubtedly, more facts will emerge.


The Pilgrimage Road from the Shiloach Pool to the Temple Mount, used by Jewish worshipers in the late Second Temple period, was excavated over the course of six years and unveiled by the City of David organization on June 30, 2019.
(Source: City of David.)

The road now exists as a tunnel lying beneath a predominantly Arab section of Jerusalem, called Silwan. The area was originally settled in modern times by Yemenite Jews in the 1880’s, who were then expelled when Jordan attacked Israel in 1948 and annexed the area in a measure not recognized by almost every country in the world. Just as in ancient history, the sacking and rebuilding of the city continues to play out.

But today’s Israeli archaeologists managed a new feat: they did not destroy the layers of recent history above the Pilgrim Road; they burrowed a tunnel which left the current residents of Silwan still living in their homes. As opposed to the living history of tels which builds one reality on top of another, and excavations which destroy one history to unveil another, both the ancient Jewish history and modern Arab homes coexist.

Historians celebrated the event as did the State of Israel which plans to develop the road as a tourist attraction as an important part of understanding the history of Judaism’s holiest location. Even foreign dignitaries came to the June 30 opening dedication including U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and United States Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

But Palestinian Arabs cried foul. Palestinians like PLO veteran Hanan Ashrawi said that the United States “will go to any length to show collusion, identification with and support for all these illegal acts, for the transformation of the character of Jerusalem.” A ridiculous charge which prompted Greenblatt to reply on Twitter that “we can’t ‘Judaize’ what history/archaeology show. We can acknowledge it; you can stop pretending it isn’t true! Peace can only be built on truth.

Traditionally, archaeologists need to destroy one layer of history to reveal the more ancient, but in Jerusalem today, the Israelis managed to uncover a 2,000-year old road used by pilgrims to ascend to the Jewish Temple Mount, while leaving the homes of modern day Arabs and Jews intact. It is a feat which sustains all truths, and underscores both the deep historic and religious ties of the Jewish people to their holiest city, while also respecting the modern sensitivities and political realities of the diverse modern capital city.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Jews of Jerusalem In Situ

Gimme that Old-Time Religion

The Cave of the Jewish Matriarch and Arab Cultural Appropriation

Squeezing Zionism

Tolerance at the Temple Mount

The New York Times will Keep on Telling You: Jews are not Native to Israel

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The Dark Side of Jerusalem Day: Magnifying the Kotel and Minimizing the Temple Mount

The Six Day War of June 1967 was remarkable in many ways, but it also led to shameful disappointments.

  • The Victory of War. Vastly outnumbered in people and armory, the Israeli army nevertheless triumphed over the surrounding Arab Muslim countries which sought to destroy the Jewish State.
  • Victory of Right. While Israel fought a preemptive battle against Egypt and Syria, making its argument of self-defense slightly tenuous, the battle against Jordan was 100% defensive, and therefore the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” is wholly irrelevant to Israel’s retaking of eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria which were an integral part of the Palestine Mandate and rightfully “reconstituting their national home in that country.
  • Victory of Rights. The Arab Muslims of Jordan ethnically cleansed the Jews from eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank and forbade Jews from visiting or praying in Jerusalem from 1949-1967, while the broader Muslim world under the Ottomans had banned Jews from entering or praying at the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs in Hebron for centuries. That ended in June 1967, as Jews were once again able to access their holiest and second holiest locations.

The victories were incredible and continue to be celebrated around the world in Jerusalem Day celebrations, highlighting the reunification of the city and Jewish control of their holiest city.

However, the Jewish generals and leaders of 1967 took two actions immediately after the victory which have led to a falsification of history and belief.

  • Giving Control of the Temple Mount to the Waqf. In an effort to end the war and keep the broader Muslim world from descending upon Israel, the Israeli government decided to hand control of the Temple Mount, the holiest location for Jews, to the Jordanian Waqf, who have maintained a policy of banning Jews from praying at the site to this day.
  • Clearing the Kotel Plaza. Arab homes had filled the area in front of the Kotel for centuries and the Israeli government quickly ordered the low-rise homes to be demolished to enable thousands of Jewish pilgrims to approach and pray en masse at the site.

Mughrabi Quarter before 1946

Clearing the Kotel Plaza, 1967
The combined efforts of giving away the Temple Mount and enlarging access to the Kotel has left the Jewish people and consequently the world with the false idea that the Kotel is the holiest place for Judaism. It is not, nor has it ever been. The Kotel, is just a large exposed segment of the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount built by King Herod 2,000 years earlier in an effort to give Jews greater access and movement on THE TEMPLE MOUNT, not so they’d worship a sliver of the wall which kept the mount from collapsing.

Now, some people even believe that the Kotel was actually the western wall of the Temple itself, also completely untrue.

Jerusalem Day is a moment to celebrate the incredible victory of Jews reestablishing their presence and rights in their holiest city. However, it is also a time to note how actions immediately after that victory reoriented our focus and prayers to a wall built by a mad king 2,000 years ago, rather than the “place which He will choose” (Deuteronomy 16:16), the Jewish Temple itself.


Related First One.Through articles:

It’s the Temple Mount, Not the Western Wall

Dignity for Israel: Jewish Prayer on the Temple Mount

Visitor Rights on the Temple Mount

The Waqf and the Temple Mount

Tolerance at the Temple Mount

Losing the Temples, Knowledge and Caring

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

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