Unholy Acts in the Holy City

At our synagogue on the holy day of Yom Kippur, we honored a righteous African Moslem who rescued innocents in the Islamist terrorist attacks in Paris. As a supporter of the two state solution, it is reprehensible that the Palestinian authority has not acted or spoken out in condemnation of these recent brutal stabbings. A strong case can be made that the P.A. may have instigated violence. When you deny all people free and open access to the Temple Mount and furthermore, prohibit worshippers of other faiths from even offering a private prayer, you are condoning and legitimizing fanaticism.

The core issue is Islamic insistence on its rights and primacy while negating the rights and primacy demands of others. Ask a few common sense questions. Why can’t an “infidel” rabbi, priest, or minister pray for peace on this contested site? Why can’t supervised archaeological digs be permitted in this area? Why does the Wakf, the so-called administrative authority, disallow outside inspections of the mosques but allows weapons to be stored inside? Why did the Wakf not condemn stoning of Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall below?

Politically correct commentators refuse to confront this unfounded authoritarianism head on. They deflect with a host of justifications for unjustifiable acts of murder. It is always about the rage over settlements or Israeli incursion into the Temple Mount or the disproportionate response to knife wielding attackers and never the core issue of unquestioned Islamic hegemony.

The New York Times recently joined the chorus of Arab deniers of claims to the existence of an historic Jewish Holy Temple on the site with twisted syllogistic tip-toeing over a preponderance of scholarly certitude. Let’s not delude ourselves. This chorus of denial is targeting any Jewish historical connection to the city or the land. A most outrageous example can be seen in the recent Orwellian UNESCO proposal, proposed on behalf of the Palestinians to declare that the Western Wall is part of the Al Aqsa Mosque!

Claims to the site’s Islamic holiness are tenuous at best, given that Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran and yet is continuously referenced in the Hebrew Bible. Furthermore, the Jewish Temple is not the least significant of three holy places. It is, for the Jewish people, the one and only HOLIEST site.

There will never be holiness and peace in this holy city until we confront the core issue of Islamic refusal to accept the primacy of others’ claims in the communal sharing of this sacred space. Unlike Mecca, where no church or synagogue will ever be sanctioned, Jerusalem’s Holy places belong to and must be administered by a faith that preceded Islam and which gives all faiths full access to visit and yes, even to perform the unthinkable Holy act of voicing a prayer.

Look closely to Jerusalem, for it portends a future that many western cities are now confronting in shariah inspired honor killings. We must give no quarter to fanaticism and unacceptable demands for supremacy. True holiness resides where people respect origins, openly share, and pray aloud for peace.

About the Author
Rabbi David Baron was born in New York and graduated from Hunter College of the City University of New York with a double major in Political Science and Hebrew Literature. He completed his rabbinical studies and was ordained in Jerusalem, Israel by Rabbi Israel Grossman, the Av Bet Din (Chief Rabbinic Jurist) of the Jerusalem rabbinate. Today, Rabbi Baron officiates at Temple of the Arts in Beverly Hills.
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