Two years after he was almost assassinated at event calling for right to pray at Judaism’s holiest site, Yehuda Glick is now a Likud MK, and his cause has entered the halls of power
On Monday, the Temple Mount activists ascended to the Knesset. They came by the dozens to attend the Dorshei Zion organization’s annual conference, which coincides with the anniversary of a visit by the Jewish sage Maimonides to the holy site 851 years ago. And they came to celebrate the recovery of former activist Yehuda Glick, who was shot four times by a Palestinian terrorist outside the organization’s convention in Jerusalem two years ago to the day, according to the Hebrew calendar.
Monday’s conference was the first to be held in Israel’s parliament and was organized in coordination with Glick, now an energetic Likud MK, who has arguably done more than anybody else of late to inject the subject of Jewish prayer rights at the volatile, sacred compound into public discourse.
Once a fringe issue, Temple Mount activism has in recent years become increasingly mainstream in Israeli Orthodox circles, even as Palestinians attributed the year-long wave of terror attacks to their public’s anger at ostensible imminent changes by Israel to arrangements on the holy site, which Israel firmly denies planning.
The growing popularity of the movement appeared to be corroborated by the location of Monday’s conference, in the heart of Israel’s political realm, and the appeals issued by ministers from the governing Likud and right-wing Jewish Home parties for greater access to the site. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Glick also used the event to announce the launch of a new Temple Mount lobby in the Knesset.
The at-times quirky, at-times emotive event also featured a history lesson from a self-proclaimed “Quranic Zionist” sheikh and awards given to Israel’s public security minister, to the mother of 13-year-old terror victim Hallel Ariel, who was stabbed to death in her bed in June, and to a young activist who was recently detained by police — after attempting to carry out a ritual Passover sacrifice on the Mount.
‘Open the gates’
Formerly a frequent visitor to the compound, before a year-long ban on lawmakers visiting the site was implemented, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) used his address at the Monday gathering to implore Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “open the gates” to the Temple Mount for Jewish worshipers where, under the status quo agreement with its Jordanian custodians, non-Muslims may visit but may not pray.
“Open the gates to the Temple Mount,” urged Ariel. “End the disgrace, end the wretchedness, end the lack of sovereignty.”
The Jewish Home minister also touched on the ongoing ban preventing him and the other legislators from visiting the site, telling audience members he was “jealous” of them.
“Unfortunately, the prime minister’s advisers and he himself are preventing it, unjustly, wrongly,” he added.
Ariel, who was filmed reciting a prayer on the Mount last October, was preceded on the stage by his fellow party member, Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan, who also called for the government to change the status quo. In his previous position as deputy minister of religious affairs, Ben Dahan prepared regulations on Jewish prayer at the site, he said. “The government of Israel must adopt the regulations as soon as possible,” he declared.
In her remarks, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said Israel’s Foreign Ministry would begin gifting foreign dignitaries with archaeological finds from the nearby City of David, in the wake of the recent UNESCO resolutions that ignored Jewish ties to the holy site, and in the run-up to the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War in which Israel captured the Old City and the Temple Mount.
“I urge everyone who has not ascended to the Temple Mount to visit the Temple Mount,” said Hotovely.
Her fellow Likud MKs — including Edelstein, Jerusalem Minister Ze’ev Elkin, and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan — were more tempered in their support, lavishing praise on Glick and supporting Jewish prayer at the site, but stopping short of endorsing a change to the status quo.
Accepting an award from the organization for his efforts to improve the situation at the contested site, Erdan said the issue was “very, very complicated, and very explosive.”
Distinguishing between his personal views on the subject and his professional responsibilities, Erdan said, “In my personal view, our right to the Temple Mount is unshakable.”
The minister, who oversees the police, added that the status quo “is discriminatory toward the Jewish people. What can you do? That’s the truth.”
Still, he emphasized that neither the police nor any single lawmaker can change the status quo, but only “the political leadership” — an apparent reference to Netanyahu — in coordination with Jordan and other countries, can.
Edelstein announced that he had signed up to a new lobby with Glick in the parliament to advance the issue of Temple Mount prayer.
Like many of the other speakers, Edelstein referred to the much-gabbed about UNESCO resolutions, calling them a “joke.” “You can’t argue with a joke,” he said.
A Zionist sheikh, the mother of a terror victim
Sitting in the front row and flanked by his wife and right-wing MKs, Glick got up to shake the hands of each of the speakers. But the US-born Orthodox rabbi saved his warmest greeting — a bear hug — for Likud MK Amir Ohana, the party’s sole openly gay lawmaker, who was Glick’s volunteer bodyguard after the shooting.
The conference also saw a Zionist sheikh read passages from the Bible (to applause) and the Quran (less applause), arguing passionately in favor of Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.
Several activists received awards from the organization, including bereaved mother Rena Ariel, who was honored by the agriculture minister, a cousin by marriage. A composed and fervent Ariel, a founder of the “Women for the Temple” movement, accepted the recognition to a standing ovation, with a call for more visits to the site, particularly by children.
“I’m a little embarrassed that after 50 years, we need to beg to pray on the Temple Mount… We still have an opportunity to fix it, because this year is the year of Jerusalem in the education system — let’s put the Temple Mount at the center, let’s show the Temple Mount to the children and the families, and next year this conference will be on the Temple Mount,” she said.
Also honored was activist Refael Morris, who runs the “Returning to the Mount” movement, and who was detained in April by police en route to the Temple Mount, live goat in tow, to prepare a ritual Passover sacrifice.
In his speech, Morris took an eyebrow-raising departure from the conciliatory tone adopted by most of the conference’s speakers, who urged Jewish prayer alongside Christian and Muslim worship. He called for the building of a third Temple and razing the Muslim sites. “And we will also conquer Jordan and Syria,” he added, and “build a real Jewish state here.”
Times Of Israel
In the fall of 1943, German soldiers in Italy began rounding up Italian Jews and deporting them—10,000 people were sent to concentration camps during the nearly two-year Nazi occupation. Most never returned. But in Rome, a group of doctors saved at least 20 Jews from a similar fate, by diagnosing them with Syndrome K, a deadly, disfiguring, and contagiosissima disease.
The 450-year-old Fatebenefratelli Hospital is nestled on a tiny island in the middle of Rome’s Tiber River, just across from the Jewish Ghetto. When Nazis raided the area on Oct. 16, 1943, a handful of Jews fled to the Catholic hospital, where they were quickly given case files reading “Syndrome K.”
The disease did not exist in any medical textbook or physician’s chart. In fact, it didn’t exist at all. It was a codename invented by doctor and anti-fascist activist Adriano Ossicini, to help distinguish between real patients and healthy hideaways. (Political dissidents and a revolutionary underground radio station were also sheltered there from Italy’s Fascist regime.)
The fake illness was vividly imagined: Rooms holding “Syndrome K” sufferers were designated as dangerously infectious—dissuading Nazi inspectors from entering—and Jewish children were instructed to cough, in imitation of tuberculosis, when soldiers passed through the hospital.
“The Nazis thought it was cancer or tuberculosis, and they fled like rabbits,” Vittorio Sacerdoti, a Jewish doctor working at the hospital under a false name, told the BBC in 2004. Another doctor orchestrating the life-saving lie was surgeon Giovani Borromeo, later recognized by Israeli Holocaust remembrance organization Yad Vashem as “righteous among nations.”
On June 21, Fatebenefratelli was honored as a “House of Life,” by the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, a US organization dedicated to honoring heroic acts during the Holocaust. For the occasion, 96-year-old Ossicinigranted an interview to Italian newspaper La Stampa (video in Italian) about the invention of the disease:
“Syndrome K was put on patient papers to indicate that the sick person wasn’t sick at all, but Jewish. We created those papers for Jewish people as if they were ordinary patients, and in the moment when we had to say what disease they suffered? It was Syndrome K, meaning ‘I am admitting a Jew,’ as if he or she were ill, but they were all healthy.
The idea to call it Syndrome K, like Kesserling or Kappler, was mine.”
Albert Kesserling was the German commander overseeing Rome’s occupation. SS chief Herbert Kappler had been installed as city police chief, and would later mastermind the Ardeatine massacre, a mass killing of Italian Jews and political prisoners in 1944.
“The lesson of my experience was that we have to act not for the sake of self-interest, but for principles,” said Ossicini. “Anything else is a shame.”
Accounts of how many Italian Jews were saved by Fatebenefratelli Hospital vary from dozens to hundreds, but survivor testimonies gathered by Yad Vashem confirm that at least a few more lives were saved after Oct. 16. Several families with small children sheltered there through the winter, until German forces swept through the hospital again in May 1944. One attendant at the Wallenberg ceremony, 83-year-old Luciana Tedesco, was safely hidden in the hospital as a small child during the last raid.
Italy’s Jewish community is one of oldest in Europe, and Syndrome K is one of many WWII-era anecdotes of ordinary Italians taking extraordinary action to save the lives of fellow citizens, made even more striking against the historical backdrop of Italy’s own anti-Semitic laws. Nearly 9,000 Roman Jews, of a community of 10,000, ultimately managed to evade arrest, a feat sadly dwarfed by the Third Reich’s genocidal mania in the last years of the war.
A joint Jordanian-Palestinian draft decision denying Jewish affinity with the Temple Mount, including the Wailing Wall, set to be voted on during annual UNESCO meeting: Draft accuses Israel of misconduct on the mount including deliberate vandalism: Foreign Ministry says document is ‘malicious and dishonest.’
The subject of the Jewish connection with the Temple Mount has once again been returned to the UN as Palestinians and Jordanians seek to repudiate Jewish affinity with any part of the compound.
The Israeli foreign ministry and Israeli embassies around the world are currently dedicating significant efforts to undermine the acceptance of the draft decision in UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) which also accuses Israel of causing damage to holy Islamic sites.
The draft decision is supposed to be voted upon by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO which meets once a year and consists of 21 representatives from the affiliate states.
Israel is seeking to exert greater pressure on the member states in an effort to prevent a recurrence of what took place in April when the committeeunilaterally condemned “Israeli aggression on the Temple Mount,” and disregarded all Israeli or Jewish claims over the area, including the Wailing Wall.
The draft decision presented by the Palestinians and Jordanians includes a number of problematic points in relation to Israel. Firstly, the draft calls on Israel to return the Temple Mount and the al-Aqsa mosque to “the historic status quo,” a new phrase implying that the sites should be returned to their pre-1967 status.
The recommendations constitute another attempt to remove any Jewish presence from the Temple Mount. Moreover, the text repeatedly refers to the entire compound as an exclusively holy Muslim site and makes no exception on the issue of the Wailing wall. In October 2015, a similar attempt failed when brought before UNESCO.
Throughout the entire document, Israel is repeatedly alluded to as an occupying force on the Temple Mount while being accused of breaching international treaties such as the Geneva Convention and the Hague Convention. According to the claims, Israel is causing damage to historic buildings on the mount, to gates, windows and to ceramics while simultaneously preventing repair and renovation projects initiated by the Jordanians.
According to Israeli officials, there is also an attempt to compose an indictment against Israel vis-a-vis its activities on the Temple Mount which will be presented to the Criminal Court of Justice in the Hague.
The Israeli ambassador at UNESCO, Carmel Shama Hacohen, said in response, “Anyone who thought that after the criticism voiced by Israeli and international Jewry against this decision and the recanting of the heads of state and foreign ministers around the world following the last decision that Palestinians would come to their senses need to come to their senses and internalize this complicated reality.”
“We have made a concerted diplomatic but the voting will be conducted by a secret ballot and the rules of the game are well known: Palestinians almost always have a majority.”
The foreign ministry released a statement slamming the Jordanian-Palestinian initiative: “The document that was presented to UNESCO is an another malicious and dishonest attempt to harm Israel’s affinity with its capital,” the statement read. “This is a tendentious text and we hope that it is does not receive support from the member states. Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the nation of Israel and of Israel’s alone.”
As published in Strata in the January/February 2012 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review
What is perhaps most conspicuous about the growth of anti-Semitism on the European Left, as exemplified by the current crisis in the British Labour Party, is that it is rising at a time when Europe should be busy with much more pressing issues, such as national security — particularly in London, where the terrorist threat keeps growing and security officials can barely keep up.
It has been less than two months since Islamic terrorists successfully targeted the Brussels airport and the Maelbeek metro station, killing 32 people and wounding many more. And it has been only half a year since the Paris attacks, in which Islamic terrorists killed 130 people and wounded nearly 400. These were groundbreaking, shocking events in the history of Islamic terrorism on European soil, so one would naturally assume that Israel and Jews in general, who make up such a marginal demographic group, constituting less than half a percent of the population of the EU, would be the last thing on European politicians’ minds. Another enormous immigration crisis looms, as 800,000 migrants, according to French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, are currently in Libyan territory waiting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. This means that Europe will most likely be facing even more chaos than it did last summer.
However, European politicians, instead of busying themselves with protecting their citizens from future terrorist attacks — as well as preventing another chaotic summer of migration chaos — incredibly find time to get mired in sordid squabbles about insane ideas of transferring Israeli Jews to the United States and claiming Hitler was a Zionist — as we saw in the U.K. — or composing elaborate peace conference initiatives to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — as we saw in France. If I were a European citizen, I would wonder why my government was occupying itself with these issues, which have no vital meaning to any Europeans, at a time when Europe is facing unprecedented security threats.
As I mentioned in a past column, one example of this preposterous mindset was France’s rejection of Israeli terrorism tracking technology, which might have possibly prevented the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels — a clear example of Jew hatred trumping national security concerns, especially at a time when national security should be the top priority of every single European government.
In the wake of the anti-Semitism debacle in the British Labour Party, the obligatory inquiries will be made, solemn reports will be written and the culprits will be reprimanded, rebuked or excluded, upon which all will be forgotten and everyone will carry on as usual. It will change nothing, least of all the influence of the radical Left on mainstream leftist parties.
While the sordid ideas that are entertained by some in the European Left came out in the open in Britain on this occasion, this is most certainly not the last time we will see such a “crisis” revolving around the airing of some of these ideas, as the radical Left’s influence becomes more and more apparent, not only in Britain, but across the European Union. No one should harbor any doubts as to whether this is a British phenomenon — it most certainly is not, as anyone who follows Scandinavian politics can ascertain.
At any rate, whatever the outcome, for British Jews it is all too little and too late and the Labour debacle is only a political symptom of what has already become an undeniable fact on the street: Hate crimes against British Jews are at an all-time high. A report released on Sunday showed that there has been an increase of 50 percent in violent crimes against British Jews in the past two years and 1,000 anti-Semitic incidents in 2015 compared to 938 in 2014. Violent crimes constituted 196 incidents in 2015 compared to 126 incidents in 2014.
In other parts of the U.K., Jews are not faring any better. Almost 20 percent of Jews in Scotland have said that they have been victims of hate crimes. In Glasgow, home to the majority of Scottish Jews, more Jews are leaving or fearing to identify as Jews in a city, which has become increasingly hostile, something that culminated in 2014, when the Glasgow City Council decided to fly the Palestinian flag in what it said was a show of solidarity with the people of Gaza.
Just as elsewhere in Europe, these developments are more likely than not to result in an even greater exodus of Jews from the European continent. Israel will be the richer for that and Europe the poorer. This leaves the Europeans with nowhere to escape from their irresponsible politicians. But they should ask why Israel and the Jews continue to be an almost clinical obsession to the point where Jew-hatred trumps national security. It would be very interesting to hear the answer.
The Roman Temple, which dates back to the 3rd century B.C, is located in the Elephantine Island in Aswan.
Dr. Mahmoud Afifi, the head of the Egyptian Antiquities branch in the Antiquities Ministry, said that he noticed a stone with two Star of David engravings in the Roman temple.
Afifi accused the delegation of German archaeologists that has been working on the site’s reconstruction of engraving the Stars of David into the Shrine’s stone.
Afifi ordered the archaeologists to immediately remove the stone with the Star of David’s engraving from the temple, threatening to take all legal measures against them if they would ever repeat such a move.
An Egyptian news site, Suezbalady, went even further, claiming that the two Star of David engravings that were found were drawn by a Jewish member of the German delegation, who wanted to vandalize Egyptian culture and provoke Egyptians.
The newly-appointed Egyptian Antiquities Minister, Khaled Anani, released a press statement Saturday following his visit to the Aswan shrine.
Anani stated that he had instructed the joint Egyptian-German group to submit him a scientific report about the two engravings found on one of the temple’s walls. “The report will include a picture of the stone under discussion from the time it was discovered, to explore its archaeological repercussions without the two Star of David engravings, “Anani said.
“We will be aided by an expert of Islamic antiquities to understand whether the Sign of David was common in that early period”, Anani announced.