In the past, Jews have had to defend their faith against empires that sought their destruction. Like the Maccabees1 who stood up for what they believed was true even against all odds. They would not submit to the attack against their faith, customs and Torah. With a righteous indignation against such an attack, the Maccabees stood up against the Greeks and fought a holy war of resistance that was for Zion’s sake.
The same was the case during the Jewish resistance against the Romans, who sought similar religious sanctions against the Jewish faith. The motto of the Jewish revolt against the Romans was “for Zion’s sake” from Isaiah 62:1. This phrase was minted on top of the Roman “Judea Captured” coin[i] that bore the symbol of Judea’s defeat to the Romans.
What neither the Greeks nor the Romans could know was that they were actually fighting a losing battle. At the time, their victory over the Jewish “religious fanatics” that just wouldn’t conform to the winds of change seemed assured. However, neither the Greeks nor the Romans have survived as empires, and their greatness is no longer. Today their memories remain in museums, historic art, and ruins, while the Jews are still here and becoming stronger as a people. The Jews who have the heart of the Maccabees have stood the test of time.
Today, a similar challenge is set before us by Europe and America, as they attempt to conform Israel and the Jewish people to their standards, their ideas of government, etc. However, at the core of the conflict today between Israel and the rest of the world stands the issue of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount (aka Mount Zion) the so called “status quo.”[ii] Similarly to the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanies when the Temple became the center of his conflict with the Jews.
The “status quo” that the government of Israel has tolerated on the Temple Mount, all in the spirit of “tolerance,” is an absurdity! How is it that a people who have been exiled from their homeland because they clung to their Jewish identity and were unwilling to conform to the religions of foreign empires—now returned after two thousand years in exile—are still not allowed to ascend their most holy place? They are not even allowed to move their lips in silent prayer. Only this time, the atrocity is enforced by the Israeli government.
We need a movement once again with a renewed “Maccabee spirit” that will stand up boldly against the winds of change and “the religion of tolerance” towards the intolerant which continually challenges Israel’s existence in the Middle East. Can it be labeled a crime for Jews to declare their desire to pray on their holiest place on earth, especially on a place that the Jewish nation has legal authority over?
The Muslim Wakf[iii] has made it practically impossible for Jews to ascend the Temple Mount without turning it into some type of provocation and then consistently placing the blame for any clashes or outbreak of Muslim rage on Israel. This is in complete violation of the Peace treaty between Israel and Jordan according to article 9.3 “The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.”
The Temple Mount is not just an important place to a few “religious fanatics” and some Temple Mount faithful fringe groups. It is the very essence and core of the Zionist movement that brought us back to our homeland in the first place, Shivat Tzion. Zionism without Zion is not Zionism! If Jews are not supposed to have sovereignty on Mount Zion, then we have no right to Judea or Samaria, the Negev, Tel-Aviv, Haifa or anywhere else within the modern state of Israel.
If we Jews and Israelis do not take a stand today on the issue of the Temple Mount, as did the Maccabees before us, than I fear that we are doomed to the same fate as our exiled forefathers. We need to make a resolve to not give up our Jewish, religious, and historic rights to the Temple Mount so that we can secure a future for our children in this land.
This is also a necessity for the future of the Palestinian people. They need to see that we are not going to give up our claim to the land. They need to hear a clear message that we are a strong nation that they can respect and therefore be willing to negotiate with. As things are right now, the Palestinian’s think that we are stupid and weak for our lack of an assertive and clear claim to the Jewish homeland, which makes it hard for them to trust that we will respect any of their rights. If we do not respect ourselves, how can they be sure we will ever respect them?
Our nation is located in the Middle East and we cannot afford to act like Europeans or Americans in this region. This has been modern Israel’s major mistake and main problem with her neighbors, “the religion of tolerance”, towards the intolerant. Once we resolve that the entire Jewish homeland is ours, including, and most especially, the Temple Mount, then we have a foundation to stand on in order to begin discussing other issues. Until then, we are fighting an endless fight of what is politically correct, but still so morally incorrect.
The only thing that can bring about this change is another “for Zion’s sake” movement with a Judah Maccabee type leader and hero whose foremost concern is to fear God and His Torah in the Land of Israel. One who is not afraid of the traditional International public diplomacy with its western values that move with the winds of change. Israel is an eternal people, but it can only remain such together with God’s eternal Torah. May the “Cry For Zion” movement help spur such a zeal among the people of Israel today!
By Doron Keidar
CRY FOR ZION
[iii] The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf is an Islamic trust best known for controlling and managing the current Islamic edifices around and including the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. The waqf has governed access to the geographic region since the Muslim reconquest of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1187. After Israel conquered the Old City of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War of June 1967, Israel allowed the waqf to retain authority over the Temple Mount after hostilities had ceased. The waqf consists of a director, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and the Islamic Council.