Let the UAE Operate Temple Mount

The Temple Mount is a sacred religious site, holy to Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Yet currently, it does not have the appearance of a place of worship. Political rallies, harassment, and children playing soccer have all become commonplace on Temple Mount. The Jordanian Waqf and Palestinian nationalists have allowed the situation to deteriorate to the extent that it does not seem like a place of worship. This is why I believe we must restore Temple mount’s identity as a religious state of worship and have the Emiraties run the site.

As an Orthodox rabbi, I share the belief of most Orthodox rabbis who believe the site is so sacred that Jews or non-Jews should not ascend to Temple Mount at all until the arrival of the Messiah. Other Jews, however, believe it is permissible for Jews to go up and pray on Temple Mount. I respect their opinion. I also respect the many Muslims who see the place as a sacred place of worship. What all these groups can agree on is: we are all far better off with country like the UAE, which has a record of showing respect to multiple faiths, would be running Temple Mount. They would do a far better job in a way that will respect the site, religion, and every individual that comes there.

A few weeks ago, a video of Emirati Muslim worshipers being harassed by Palestinian Waqf members inside Al Aqsa mosque had gone viral. Sadly, this behavior was not unusual. Visitors to Temple Mount that don’t fit the pro-terrorist agenda of the forces controlling it now are subject to regular harassment and even violence.

This should offend any religious person. Regardless of your religious belief, we all believe the Temple Mount should be a place of religious worship, not a breeding ground for terrorists.

When my dear friend Mohammed Saud, a popular Saudi blogger came to visit Temple Mount, he too got attacked and accosted by Palestinian nationalists. We cannot let this situation continue.

People of Faith, Muslim, Christian, or Jewish, should all agree: the current situation cannot continue. We cannot allow Hamas, Hezbollah, Turkey, and Qatar extremism to dominate this holy site. We cannot tolerate the politicization and brutalization of a sacred place of worship. We cannot allow for the current situation in which Muslims, Christians, and Jews are regularly harassed on Temple Mount.

If one takes a look at the Kaaba in Mecca, one will never see political or extremist activity at the site. Sunnies, Shiites, and other denominations, some from Iran, some from Israel, all come and worship in dignity and with proper decorum. We should be able to do the same in Temple Mount.

The denigration of the Temple Mount by the Waqf does not just show in the form of harassment. Palestinian children use the holy site regularly to play soccer. The Waqf themselves behave in a vile and hostile way, often giving visitors the middle finger–disregarding the holiness of the site.

The UAE has shown an extraordinary ability to operate a traditional Muslim society, with space and tolerance for members of other religions. Allowing them to run and secure the Temple Mount will ensure true freedom of worship for everyone that comes to the place. It will restore dignity and sanctity to the site.

The world and Israel must give Jordan an ultimatum: run the Temple Mount as a sacred religious site, or hand it over to the Gulf States, who will do a far better job respecting the sanctity of this precious site.

About the Author
The writer is a rabbi, writer, teacher, and blogger (www.rabbipoupko.com). He is the president of EITAN-The American Israeli Jewish Network and lives with his wife in New York City.
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