Settlements, the Temple Mount, and Rabbi Yehuda Glick

I know that this is not the popular view among many of my coreligionists. Especially those who tend to the more right wing of Religious Zionism. But unlike most Religious Zionists I do not believe that the return to Zion and repossessing Eretz Yisroel is the “first flowering of our redemption” – where we will soon enter messianic times.  I am quite the realist.

On the other hand I am an unabashed supporter of the State of Israel and assert our rights to it all – as the Torah tells us. But since I do not believe we are on the precipice of the Messianic era – and taking world events and opinion into consideration –  my views  about the proper course to be taken in Israel have evolved into the following ‘heart versus head’ perspective.

My heart is with those who wish to worship on the Temple Mount. But my head is with those who oppose it. My heart is with the settlers who wish to settle all of Eretz Yisroel. Which includes Yehudah and Shmoron (more commonly known as the West Bank). But my head is with those who oppose them. My heart is with those who insist that no matter what Jerusalem should remain the eternal capital of Israel and in Jewish hands – never to be divided with any part of it given to a future Palestinian State. But my head realizes that if peace between the Arabs and Israel were contingent on it, I would give it up. Because for me, it’s all about what’s good for the Jews’ to quote a common cliché.

The better part of wisdom dictates that I follow my head rather than my heart.

It’s true that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel. I believe with every fiber in my body that we we have a right to it. But if true Shalom – peace – were at stake, then as sad as it makes me to say it, I would up give East Jerusalem (where the Temple Mount is located) provided we had free and unfettered access to all of our holy places. Like the Kotel. Any peace deal without that is a non starter. I believe that is an attainable goal.

The fact is that Israel has already played that hand under Prime Minister Ehud Barak. We can’t go back. They know such a concession is possible under a different Prime Minsiter and they are never going to accept anything less. I don’t like it. But that’s the way it is.

That said I want to make clear that I do not see a peace treaty happening any time soon. And do not support pursuing it at the present time. At this point I would not concede an inch. Not until Hamas, Hezbollah, and all the Jihadists are eliminated from the scene. There can be no peace agreement until then.

No Arab leader can be trusted at this point to assure that the murderous violence from their quarters that is so constant in Israel would cease – as long as they are around.  But in theory I do support an ultimate peace treaty with the Arabs. And it will probably look something like the agreements made at Oslo by Ehud Barak.

But even though I am a realist, there are things that can be done – and not done in order to not exacerbate the violence. One of them is to avoid construction in Judea and Sumeria (the West Bank).

As much as I admire and support Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, I have to disagree with his current policy of doing just that. Even in East Jerusalem.

In my view the gain is not worth the pain. A pain that can be deadly as was almost the case with Rabbi Yehuda Glick in another contentious area – Har HaBayis (the Temple Mount). More about that later.

In securing the safety of my people – if I were the Prime Minister I would do everything in my power to achieve it. That includes not doing things that will incite the Arabs to violence – even as I know that we have the technical God given right to to do them.

If Jewish lives can be saved by not doing something that would incite Arabs to violence, I would not do it. Building new homes in East Jerusalem clearly does incite them to violence.  Not to mention the fact that doing so spikes world opinion against Israel. Even from its closest ally, the United States.

Again, we may have the biblical right to do so. But do we have the moral right to exacerbate the enmity of the Arabs?  …and turn world opinion even more against Israel than it already is? In my view, we do not have that right. It is an act that endangers the Jewish people. As does trying to ascend the Temple Mount.

I am not going to go into details about  the Halachic problems with that. Suffice it to say that we are not permitted to be there in the state of Tumah we are all presumed to be in today. Although there are some parts that may be permitted access Halachicly, most Poskim have wisely said we should not go up there at all. Including Rav Yitzchak HaKohen Kook.

This leads me to the recent tragic events on the Temple Mount. Rabbi Yehuda Glick views it as an inalienable right to go up there despite the consequences. That is what he has been advocating doing for quite some time now. The consequences of such advocacy caused him to be shot by a zealous Arab at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Yerushalayim – a place that he publicly lectures and advocates those rights.

His condition was critical and he medically induced into a coma. I am happy to report that his condition has improved and he is now communicating with his family. My heart goes out to them. May he have a Refuah Shelaima – a complete recovery. I’m told that he is a gentle and honorable man from a fine family. I wish him well.

But he was wrong in seeing his own religious agenda superseding caution. The result was that he was almost killed.

This is not the time to assert those rights. We are not yet in the messianic era.

I know all the arguments about ignoring the Arabs and asserting our rights. First – Israel possesses the might to protect us from harm.  2nd – there are those who say that the Arabs don’t need incitement to be violent. We don’t gain anything by not abrogating our rights. They would find excuses and to do viollence anyway. As they have in the past. But I disagree.  And I am not the only one. VIN reported that the Yated has registered vehement Charedi opposition to ascending the Temple Mount. So too has Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef. Here is what he said:

This is the place to call on the esteemed public to stop this incitement, from here a call is heard, forbidding any Jews from going up to the Temple Mount. From here a call is heard to stop this so that the blood of the People of Israel may stop being spilled…

I completely agree. Which is why I am troubled by the response to Rabbi Glick’s attempted murder by his fellow travelers. From the Jerusalem Post:

(D)ozens of rightwing Israelis outraged by the assassination attempt against Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick marched Thursday night from the site he was shot to the gate of the contested holy site.

“The only thing I can compare it to is Nazi Nuremberg laws,” he said. “It’s totally corrupt and totally wrong. We have every right to be there.”

“The status quo is not holy, the Temple Mount is holy. The time has come for Jews to be able to pray on the Temple Mount and to stop all discrimination there.”

Well… the time has not come for that in my view. But the time has come for the government to forbid anyone from ascending the Temple Mount and inciting Arabs to violence… even as they assert their religious rights to do so.  Because extremism in the defense of this liberty will only bring tragedy.

About the Author
My worldview is based on the philosophy of my teacher, Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik , and the writings of Rabbis Joseph B. Soloveitcihk , Norman Lamm, and Dr. Eliezer Berkovits from whom I developed an appreciation for philosophy. I attended Telshe Yeshiva and the Hebrew Theological College where I was ordained. I also attended Roosevelt University where I received my degree in Psychology.