They Say/We Say: "It is religious discrimination to say that Jews can’t pray on the Temple Mount."

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

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They Say, We Say: What About Jerusalem and Hebron?

They Say: It is religious discrimination to say that Jews can’t pray on the Temple Mount, but Muslims can. The Temple Mount is the holiest site to Jews and must be open for Jewish prayer. If the Muslims can’t stand to share it with Jews at the same time, then the site should be split to permit Jewish prayer and Muslim prayer at different times, like at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
We Say:The Jewish attachment and claim to the Temple Mount goes to the core of Jewish history, identity, and religious belief. The fact that at present Jews are not permitted to pray at the site is a source of pain to some and bafflement to others. However, the fact of the matter is that successive Israeli governments since 1967 have decided that, for the sake of Israel’s own vital national security, Israel must maintain the status quo at the site, according to which the Temple Mount (which Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary – Haram al Sharif) remains a site of worship for Muslims alone, and a site that non-Muslims may visit. This position has long been supported by most mainstream Orthodox Jewish authorities, who for more than 1000 years have held, based on ancient Jewish law, that Jews may not ascend the Temple Mount. It has also long enjoyed the support of the political, security, and religious mainstreams of Israel, who recognize that tinkering with the status quo would have grave security repercussions for Israel.This view is bolstered by decades of experience wherein Israeli actions in and around the Temple Mount have led to bloodshed.

Those who today are agitating for a change in the Temple Mount status quo disregard both the religious and national security arguments against such a change. Some may do so out of devout religious motivations. However, others do so – openly and proudly – for the sake of clear political agenda of challenging Muslim claims to the site, replacing Muslim control (gradually or immediately) with Jewish hegemony, and undermining any two-state peace agreement. In fact, some of them openly seek and welcome the possibility of a zero-sum religious war over the site.

In the future, in the context of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and the normalization of Israel’s relations with the Muslim world, it is possible that there may be an opportunity to adopt a new, mutually agreed-on status quo that could include Jewish prayer at the site. Until then, efforts to unilaterally impose a new status quo are dangerous – fueling Muslim fears about Israeli intentions at the site. Such fears are fueled by public statements by Israeli Temple Mount activists, including Members of the Knesset and government officials, who regularly proclaim their desire (and plans) to replace the al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock with a newly-built Third Temple.

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