The Jewish Connection to Jerusalem

Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel. Photo: Israel Ministry of Tourism - www.goisrael.com.

Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel. Photo: Israel Ministry of Tourism – http://www.goisrael.com.

With Jerusalem and the Temple Mount increasingly in the news, it’s time to once again note the historical and unbreakable connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem.

It’s a connection, by the way, that’s often rejected in the Arab, Palestinian and Muslim worlds.

In contrast, Israel recognizes Muslim history and protects Muslim freedom of religion, especially at the Dome of the Rock and al- Aksa sites.  Often forgotten and rarely reported, Jews were denied access to religious sites in Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, during Jordanian control from 1948 to 1967.

So, with that context, here are a few Temple Mount history lessons (from the Jewish Virtual Library):

“The Temple Mount is the trapezoid-shaped, walled-in area in the southeastern corner of the Old City of Jerusalem. The four walls surrounding it date back – at least in their lower parts – to the time of the Second Jewish Temple, built at the end of first century B.C.E.”

“Today, an Islamic Waqf, or religious committee, manages the Temple Mount, though Israel provides security and upholds decisions made by the waqf about access to the site.”

“The Temple Mount (Hebrew, Har Habayit; Arabic, Haram esh-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary), is identified in both Jewish and Islamic tradition as the area of Mount Moriah where Abraham offered up his son in sacrifice (Genesis 22:1-18; the Koran, Sura Al-Saffat 37:102-110).”

“King Solomon built the First Temple almost 3,000 years ago. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, but 70 years later Jews returning from exile built the Second Temple on the same site.”

Credit: Israel Ministry of Tourism - www.goisrael.com

Credit: Israel Ministry of Tourism – http://www.goisrael.com

“In Muslim tradition, the place is also identified as the “furthermost sanctuary” (Arabic, masjid al-aksa) from which the Prophet Mohammed, accompanied by the Angel Gabriel, made the Night Journey to the Throne of God (The Koran, Sura Al-Isra’ 17:1).”

“The Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock to enshrine the outcrop of bedrock believed to be the “place of the sacrifice” on Mount Moriah. He (or his son, the Caliph al-Walid I) also built the large mosque at the southern end of the Haram, which came to be called al-Aksa after the Koranic name attributed to the entire area.”

Jews are not allowed to pray on the Temple Mount:

“For Jews, visiting the Temple Mount is a very controversial subject– both in terms of religious allowance and because non-Muslim prayer is prohibited at the site. Although freedom of access to the site is enshrined as law, Israel does not allow non-Muslim prayer on the Mount so as not to offend Muslim worshippers. Beyond this, many rabbi’s say that since the Jewish Temple’s Holy of Holies stood near the center of today’s Temple Mount, Jews are religiously forbidden from entering the area.”


Looking Ahead

Israelis want peace, and most support a two-state solution.

Getting there can go faster if the Palestinian Authority would limit (better yet stop) its revisionist Jerusalem history lessons that seek to deny the millenia-long Jewish connection.  It’s just another example of not preparing the Palestinian people for true accommodation with and acceptance of the Jewish state of Israel.

And, maybe one day both Jews and Muslims can openly and safely pray on the Temple Mount.

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