The violence on the Temple Mount today is not only a disgrace but also a profanation of a day that is meant to be holy both for Jews and Muslims alike.
As Jews we mourn the destruction of both the 1st and 2nd Temples on this date, while Muslims mark this day as Chag HaKorban (the festival of the sacrifice), or Eid al-Adha, in commemoration of the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and the offering up of a ram in his stead.
Given the ongoing tensions between Jews and Muslims in Israel and elsewhere, it was only commonsense for the police to decide to prohibit the entrance of Jews to the Temple Mount on this day. Not that Jews don’t have the right to go there, but rather that, as the Hebrew saying goes, it is not enough to be right, you also have to be wise.
Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef, applauded the decision, saying that “It is absolutely forbidden for Jews to ascend the Temple Mount…. Jerusalem will be built by preserving its sanctity and not by profaning it, particularly on Tisha b’Av.”
Unfortunately, for some reason, the police decided to reverse their earlier decision, perhaps as a result of right-wing political pressure on Netanyahu prior to the forthcoming Knesset elections. Indeed, Bezalel Smotrich MK is reported as having referred to the decision to bar Jews from the Temple Mount as a disgrace.
The inevitable violence that followed because of the unruly and intolerant reaction of some of the Muslim worshippers was both unnecessary and avoidable and resulted in the police having to use force to disperse the protesters.
Many would see what took place as being far more disgraceful than barring Jews for a day from the Temple Mount in order to keep the peace.
History should have taught us that the actions of Jewish zealots, such as those of the Sicarii and their families who committed mass suicide on the mountain fortress of Masada, or the revolt of Bar Kochba and his followers that led to the death of hundreds of thousands of our ancestors, did nothing to preserve the Jewish People.
Right-wing religious fanaticism threatens our fragile relationship with our Muslim neighbours, and inciting violence on Tisha b’Av is more of a disgrace than trying to keep the peace.