Monday, December 22, 2014

A Dark Chanukah on the Temple Mount

Today, in honor of Chanukah, I did what any good Maccabee would want me to do: I went up to the Temple Mount. After all, Chanukah is about the re-sanctification of the Temple.

I joined a group from "Students for the Temple Mount" who make it a priority to go up regularly. It was a humiliating and scary morning.

First, the police made my group wait two hours to enter, while anyone not visibly Jewish just moseyed on in with no questions asked. They warned us not to pray or to engage any of the Muslim worshipers. Tom Nisani, the brave leader of the group, asked the policeman if we could pray in our heart. The policeman evaded the question.

Finally, we were immediately welcomed by "Allah Akbar" - the chant we hear too often before terror attacks. Everywhere we walked "Allah Akbar! Allah Akbar!" We decided to sit on a plaza on the side. Apparently the Muslims didn't want us to sit there. Suddenly, the Muslims "prayer groups" (men, women and children) waiting to harass any Jew descended upon us shouting and shouting. They circled us, while the police meekly stood guard around us. (Watch the disturbing video here - I'm in the pink hat.) I was afraid the mob would break through and kick and hit us. When we eventually got out of that corner, Tom was gone. The police arrested him for no logical reason. Meanwhile, all the racist haters were left to harass us, intimidate us. Tom is sleeping in a jail cell tonight, and tomorrow he will face a hearing with the Jerusalem police for being...a Jew who expected to be protected by Israeli police.

So yes, everyone is celebrating Chanukah, but I fear it has simply become a commercial feel good holiday (a topic of an article below). We have much to be grateful for in the Land of Israel, but basic Jewish civil rights are being trampled on while antisemitism runs wild in a place that is historically and spiritually significant to the Jewish people.

Which brings me to my interview with Yehudah Glick that appeared this weekend inThe Jerusalem Post, Even after miraculously surviving the attempt on his life, he understands that you cannot give up on the right to your own life, to your values, to your spirit, to your mind, your soul. It is a message that Hollywood must heed as Sony capitulates human creativity to death threats.

We cannot be afraid. Instead, we must work to ensure that moral use of force is directed to defend individuals from violent racism and tyranny. It's what the Maccabees would have wanted.

Happy Chanukah,