Op-ed: Netanyahu can’t have it both ways. He either isn’t powerful enough to have prevented the potentially dangerous MK visit to the Temple Mount, or his supposed objection was nothing but the slight of hand of a diversionary master.
It’s tempting to ask why it was so urgent for the Israel Police to initiate, for one day only, a “pilot” in which the Temple Mount was re-opened for a visit by MKs Yehuda Glick and Shuli Moalem. After all, just two months ago we had the magnometer riots, which took lives and almost ignited the entire area. Anyone who has lived here for more than a minute knows that the Middle East is a powder keg, and the Temple Mount is the fuse. So why do it? So that two of the heads of the Knesset’s Shtick department can go up there and take a photograph?
It’s tempting to ask why, but it really shouldn’t be. Because at the end of the day, the Temple Mount is part of Israel’s sovereign territory, and it is astonishing that certain citizens are prevented from praying there. Will riots erupt if this happen? Should we be afraid of provocateurs? Will a war with the Arab countries erupt? Let’s break this down: keep the provocateurs away through legal orders and arrest those who won’t adhere to them. That’s what a sovereign state does. And as for the Arab countries, they are currently busy imploding, so no reason to be afraid from them.
I am not a religious or a messianic person. I do not reject the existence of a divine element, but at most refer to it philosophically and not through religious practice. I don’t harbor a strong desire to go up to the Temple Mount, and most of all I would like to see peace in our neighborhood. That said, I don’t understand why the Jordanian Waqf that guards the site forbids Jews from praying there. What would happen if a man uttered a Jewish prayer verse? I also don’t understand the believers who act contrary to the prohibition set out by the Chief Rabbinate, for Jews to pray there. And in any case, I don’t understand people who think God exists there more so than in any other place.
And yet I think that collective punishment, in the form of making it difficult for members of a religious group to enter a site sacred to them within the borders of the State of Israel, is a very—how to say this—leftist thing to do.
Perhaps most perplexing is that all this comes with the encouragement of the most right-wing prime minister there ever was here, a man who boasts of Israel’s authority day in and day out, who speaks at length of our strength and determination, and who refuses to accept the dictations of our enemies. Last May, in a special Jerusalem Day speech, Netanyahu even vowed that “The Temple Mount and Western Wall will always remain under Israeli sovereignty.”
Somehow, it was this Netanyahu who apparently objected to the police sanctioned “pilot”, and only last week prevented Glick and Moalem’s temple Mount visit. So which is it? Does he not want Jews there? not even dignified elected officials? Not even those who, like Glick, are from his own party? This is not sovereignty—this is cowardice, expressed most of all through Netanyahu’s hypocritical “objection” to such a move. After all, over his many years in power, we have learned that when Netanyahu really wants something, he makes it happens. It is also no less true that when he does not want something, it does not happen.
Alright, so which is it? Either Netanyahu isn’t powerful enough to have stopped Mualem and Glick’s Temple Mount field day, or his objection was only for show. If the second option is correct, then it is merely the latest slight of hand tricks he has gifted us. And if the first option is correct, Netanyahu can always pray to God to grant him more power—just as long as he doesn’t pray on the Temple Mount.
As reported by Ynetnews