Why Martin Luther King Supports My Right to Pray on the Temple Mount

Israel’s Chief of Police has recently come out saying that he will oppose MK’s ascending the Temple Mount because, in his opinion, it may spark violence among the Arabs in Israel.

As a Jew brought up in Atlanta, the hometown of Martin Luther King Jr., one of last centuries moral heroes, a letter he wrote from Birmingham Prison comes to mind and seems particularly relevant for our times –

“In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn’t this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God’s will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.”

I understand the Jews who oppose ascending the Temple Mount. They are afraid. I can hear them saying “Life isn’t perfect but hey, let’s not rock the boat. Let us just maintain the status-quo. After all, Jews are being killed in Jerusalem.”.

This reminds me of a different civil rights activist, a woman named Rosa Parks. Rosa refused to obey bus driver James Blake in Montgomery Alabama. She saw an immoral law and refused to sit in the back of the bus. Many, if not most, of the black community opposed Parks.  They were afraid. Life isn’t perfect but hey, let’s not rock the boat. Let us just maintain the status-quo. After all, Blacks are being killed in Alabama.”

Can’t she just keep quiet?

In the Middle East, Israel has always been a minority fighting for survival. While Iran is building a bomb “to wipe Israel off the map”, we find ourselves surrounded by enemies. Hamas in the South, Hizbollah in the North, and an ISIS inspired Arab population inside her borders. Israel has always stood alone.

We stand today, all of us, before a great moment in history. We have lived through times of unparalleled disasters and unprecedented miracles of triumph. In the deepest and most hidden parts of the Jewish soul there is a burning sensation that what we are experienced throughout history and our return to Israel is not haphazard or mere chance.

For the first time, we the Jewish People can forge our own path, protect our own rights, and demand our freedoms.

The words of Martin Luther King’s letter written from prison should be read to Israel’s chief of police and all the Jews who oppose Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount should ask themselves, would they have opposed Rosa Park too?

About the Author
Jeremy Gimpel the host of Israel Inspired Radio & TV on Voice of Israel, a columnist for the Jerusalem Post & a director in the World Mizrachi Movement
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