A Christian minister who was forced off of the Temple Mount by Muslim officials has released a video of support for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, urging Jews and “the children of Abraham” throughout the world to stand together to end Islamist harassment and discriminatory measures on Judaism’s holiest site. Pastor Keith Johnson told how he recently visited the holy site in Jerusalem when he bumped into veteran Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick. But his warm greeting for one of the leaders of the struggle for Jewish prayer rights on the Mount attracted the attention of the Waqf – the Islamic trust which administers the site and has been behind the pressure to continue a ban on non-Muslim worship there. Angry Waqf officials surrounded the pastor and forced his group off of the Temple Mount – but he defiantly went back to the entrance and ascended once more. The irony is that Jews who are forced off the Mount by the Waqf are usually banned from reentering.
In the video, aired at a special Temple Mount conference Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin Heritage Center yesterday, Johnson called on “my Jewish friends to work together in the spirit of past peaceful protests, and to be resolved not to give in, even in the midst of yelling, cussing, spitting and throwing rocks.” “As an American pastor I am appalled by the actions of some Muslims who chastise Jewish visitors – including children – who desire to ascend the Temple Mount,” he declared. In a show of solidarity for the Jewish people, he began and ended his address in Hebrew, and wished activists “success from the God of Abraham as you continue your struggle to attain freedom to pray on the Temple Mount.” Despite its supreme importance to Jews as the site of the two Holy Temples of Jerusalem, non-Muslim visitors are banned from praying there and face arrest if suspected of doing so. Visibly Jewish visitors are subjected to particularly rigorous checks for “forbidden religious items”, which many describe as discriminatory and humiliating, and religious groups are closely monitored both by Waqf officials and Israeli police. Jewish groups often face blanket bans from ascending altogether, and Islamist groups regularly riot or engage in organized campaigns of harassment of Jewish visitors, in order to prevent Jews from ascending. The recent Jewish festival of Pesach (Passover) saw particularly severe riots by Hamas-affiliated groups on the Temple Mount – triggering calls for the resignation of Israel’s Internal Security Minister and prompting Tuesday’s conference.
Last Friday while speaking to a closed meeting of the Trilateral Commission, Secretary of State John Kerry raised the ante in his bid to keep his Middle East peace initiative alive. While lamenting the latest collapse of the talks, Kerry cast blame for the outcome on both Israel and the Palestinians but made it clear that the consequences for the former would be far more serious. In the recording of his comments, which was obtained by the Daily Beast, Kerry not only repeated his past warnings that if peace wasn’t reached Israel would be faced with a new round of violence from the Palestinians as well as increased boycott efforts. He went further and said that the alternative to an Israeli acceptance of a two-state solution was that it would become “an apartheid state.”
Israeli police have released footage of the clashes between Islamists and riot police on the Temple Mount this week. The video shows Muslim extremists hurling rocks and shooting firecrackers at police from inside the Al Aqsa Mosque complex on Judaism’s holiest site. Temple Mount activists have condemned authorities for their conduct during the riots, which have taken place since the eve of Pesach (Passover), which started Monday evening, saying police were giving in to Islamist threats by banning Jews from the site in response to Muslim violence.
Israeli security officials said on Wednesday evening that they would ultimately have to force their way into al-Aqsa mosque, atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, because hundreds of young Arab Palestinian men are now routinely stockpiling large quantities of rocks and slabs of stone there to attack security forces The unnamed officials, quoted by Israel’s Channel 2 news, were speaking hours after dozens of Arab Palestinian terrorist and an Israeli policeman were wounded on the Mount when clashes broke out soon after the holy site was opened to Jewish visitors on Wednesday morning.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Palestinians threw “stones and firecrackers” at police when they opened the walled compound’s gates. Police responded with stun grenades, Rosenfeld said, and closed the complex to the Jewish visitors after a small number had toured the site. An AFP correspondent at the scene said dozens of Palestinians were wounded by rubber-coated bullets and stun grenade canisters, and were staying inside the al-Aqsa mosque out of fear they would be arrested when leaving.
However, the Israeli security officials said young Palestinian men were being allowed to hide out in the mosque by the authorities from the Waqf, or Muslim Trust, that administers the site, and that they used the holy place as a stronghold for what have now become routine attacks on Israeli security forces. The officials were quoted saying that, sooner or later, there would be “no choice but to storm” the mosque. At the same time, they acknowledged that this is precisely what the Palestinian protesters hope will happen, since the sight of armed Israeli security personnel forcing their way into the third holiest site in Islam could prompt a surge in anti-Israeli protests throughout the Arab world.