With darkness today, Jews all over the world (especially those in Israel) begin the celebration of Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day in English. The holiday celebrates that wonderful time during Six-Day War when the IDF liberated the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount was returned to the Jewish people.
Before the early 1980s the Arabs accepted the fact that the Two Jewish Temples sat atop the Mount on in the center of the city. In fact at various time during the past during the first 1,200 years after the destruction of the Temple, a Synagogue sat atop the Temple Mount along with the Dome of the Rock.
Jews had been denied access to the Holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem since 1948 when Jordan began it’s occupation during the War of Independence. In the intervening 19 years the Jordanians waged systematic destruction, desecration and looting of Jewish sites. But on that day in June forty-six years ago the world witnessed a miracle 1900 years in the making. One can only hope to understand the joy and reverence as as Jews approached the Temple mount for the first time in nearly 20 years
Since that day in 1967, the Muslims have been trying to reclaim Jerusalem’s Holy Sites, not because of any ‘religious ties” but as another way to de-legitimize the Jewish connection to the land and city.
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When Israel gained possession of the Temple compound during the Six Day War, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol wanted to execute his dream of a multi-faith council to run the compound. The Muslim Mosque would not have been touched, but all faiths would be allowed up on top of the mount.
However Moshe Dayan thought the Temple Mount should remain in Muslim possession. In his biography Dayan clearly stated that the last thing he wanted was the Beit Hamikdash (the Jewish Temple) rebuilt.
Of course there was no way that a third Temple would be built back then as by Jewish tradition we are supposed to wait until the coming of the messiah. But that didn’t stop Dayan. Flush with the incredible victory of the Six-Day War, like most progressives he felt he knew better than anybody. He didn’t consult the Prime Minister or the Knesset, nor did the Israeli people have a say.
Dayan took it upon himself; he “gave” control of the Temple Mount back to the Arabs because he wanted to make sure that there wouldn’t be a third Temple. He basically handed the keys back to the Islamic Waqf who still control the top of the temple mount to this day. There was nothing that Prime Minister Eshkol could do about it, after all Moshe Dayan, was a war hero.
During the intervening years Jews have been allowed atop the Temple Mount however they are not allowed to pray—or even look as though they are praying. The Waqf has done additional construction atop the Temple Mount and thrown out relics from the Temple (an archeology team has begun to sift through the dirt from the Mount deposited as garbage by the Islamic Waqf).
Yom Yerushalayim celebrates is a wonderful celebration but it would have so much extra meaning if Jews could celebrate the holiday with a beautiful ceremony atop the Temple Mount, but that isn’t possible because of Dayan. Thanks to the General no Jews or Christians, only Muslims are allowed to pray on top of the Temple mount.
The Jewish people lost possession of the Temple Mount three times since King David purchased the site thirty centuries ago. Only once was the site given away voluntarily. That’s when Moshe Dayan gave it away 46 years ago. Moshe Dayan will go down in history not as a hero, but as the man who gave away the Temple Mount, providing the Palestinian Muslims with an opportunity to make Jerusalem an Issue:
“It’s true,” Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad told Israel National News in August 2007, “that the original sin was when the Jewish People, immediately after the Six Day War in 1967, ceded its hold on the Temple Mount in an unholy alliance between the Chief Rabbinate and Moshe Dayan – each side for its own reasons – but now the danger is that the Arab sovereignty on the Temple Mount will spill over to the Western Wall plaza, and from there to other places.”
Then-defense Minister Dayan, just days after Israel’s liberation of the Old City, informed the Muslims running the Temple Mount that they could continue to run the mosques there – and later went further by preventing Jewish prayer all over the Mount.
“It was evident that if we did not prevent Jews from praying in what was now a mosque compound,” Dayan later wrote, “matters would get out of hand and lead to a religious clash… As an added precaution, I told the chief of staff to order the chief army chaplain to remove the branch office he had established in the building which adjoins the mosque compound.
While we remember how wonderful it is to be able to approach the site of the Holy Temples, if we wish to pray is the retaining wall around the Temple Mount. Only because of a decision made by one man, Jews are not allowed to worship God where the two Temples stood. And that my friends is the definition of a shanda.