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Let my people pray

Allowing and facilitating Jewish access and worship at Judaism’s holiest site would merely help restore the agreed-to lawful status of this site, as a place where all people will have free access.

View of the Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City on Jan. 5, 2023. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.
View of the Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City on Jan. 5, 2023. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.
Morton A. Klein
Morton A. Klein is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).

The Zionist Organization of America criticizes Jordanian King Abdullah II’s latest illegal threats regarding Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount, which violate the Israel-Jordan peace agreements. The Jordanian king told CNN that he is “prepared for conflict,” has “red lines,” and that “we have to be concerned about the next intifada” (i.e., terror war in which Palestinian Arabs murder and maim innocent Jews) if there is a “change of status” at the site.

Abdullah II is threatening violence if Jews (and other non-Muslims) are allowed to exercise their legal, religious and moral rights to freely pray at Judaism’s holiest site.

A major fact being ignored: The Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty, signed by Jordan’s King Hussein (Abdullah II’s father) on Oct. 26, 1994, guarantees Jews freedom of access to the Temple Mount. Article 9.1 of the treaty states: “PLACES OF HISTORICAL AND RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE. Each party will provide freedom of access to places of religious and historical significance.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David M. Friedman confirmed this, tweeting on Jan. 4: “Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty of 1994 required both nations to ensure access of all faiths to significant religious sites, including the Temple Mount… Jews are not prohibited from visiting the Temple Mount under the Treaty or under the definition of ‘status quo’ (murky as it is) and government ministers have done so on many occasions. No threat from Hamas should impair this reality.”

The racist, sexist, unjust status quo of black Americans and women not being allowed to vote was ended; the racist, unjust status quo of black Americans not being allowed to attend “white” high schools and universities was ended; and the antisemitic, unjust “status quo” of Jews not being allowed to visit and pray at their holiest site must be ended as well.

The ostensible status quo prevailing at the Temple Mount today violates signed international agreements, as well as Israel’s 1967 “Protection of Holy Places Law.”

The real “change in status” has been the unjust, discriminatory, illegal restrictions on Jewish access and prayer, and the Jordanian Wakf’s decades of malfeasance, destruction of Jewish antiquities and violations on the Temple Mount. The proposed Temple Mount Preservation Act of 2001, co-sponsored by 37 bipartisan Congress members, confirmed that the Jordanian Wakf engaged in “large-scale bulldozing and destruction of the Temple Mount antiquities. Thousands of tons of fill have been unearthed and simply dumped into the nearby Kidron Valley. Archeologists have verified these artifacts date from the period of the First Temple [over 2,500 years ago].”

Allowing and facilitating Jewish access and prayer at Judaism’s holiest site would merely help restore the agreed-to lawful status of this site, as a place where all people will have free access to pray.

Abdullah II’s threats of violence also violate additional provisions of the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty, including the requirements that Jordan must “refrain from organizing, instigating, inciting, assisting or participating in acts or threats of belligerency, hostility, subversion or violence against the other Party [Israel]” (Article 4.3.2); respect Israel’s sovereignty and territorial integrity (Article 2.1); mutually cooperate on security (Article 4.1); and not interfere with Israel’s inherent right of self-defense (Article 4. a).

The Jordanian king’s threat is exacerbating the recent arrogant, antisemitic, racist, discriminatory, unlawful, unjust demands and propaganda falsehoods employed by the Biden administration, Hamas terrorists, the Palestinian Authority terrorist dictatorship and certain other Arab governments, to make the Jewish people’s holiest site Judenrein (off limits to Jews).

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir peacefully strolled on the perimeter of the Temple Mount for about 13 minutes (without stepping foot in the mosque). And yet, Israel was absurdly and falsely accused of “storming the mosque,” “invading the mosque,” “provoking violence” and planning to build a “new Jewish Temple” there. (See “The Biden Administration Sides with Discrimination on the Temple Mount,” by Morton A. Klein, JNS, Jan. 4, 2023.)

Jewish history on the Temple Mount predates the beginning of Islam by over 2,200 years. Abraham bound Isaac there in approximately 1677 BCE. King David purchased the Temple Mount and built an altar to God there, and David’s son King Solomon completed building the First Temple on the site in 957 BCE—over 1,600 years before Islam was founded in 610 CE.

The Jewish Temples stood on the Temple Mount for approximately 1,000 years—again, long before Islam came onto the scene. Jews made pilgrimages to the Temples three times a year (on Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot);  180 (out of the 613) mitzvahs (Jewish commandments) relate to the Temple. And while Muslims pray facing their holiest place, Mecca, Jews all over the world pray facing their holiest place, the Temple Mount.

By contrast, the Muslims’ (false) claim that the site is holy to them was invented in about 1100 C.E.—centuries after Mohammed’s death in 632 C.E., is based on a mere dream, not an actual occurrence, that Mohammed visited the “farthest mosque.” Notably, Al-Aqsa Mosque wasn’t even built until decades after Mohammed’s death, and wasn’t and could not have been the “farthest mosque” in his dream. Moreover, there wasn’t a single mosque in Jerusalem when the Koran was written. Mohammed moreover never visited the Temple Mount in real life. Thus a misrepresented dream is being used to try to wipe out thousands of years of actual Jewish history.

King Abdullah II revealed his real goal when he made egregious and numerous illegal demands last April to fully control the Temple Mount.

Jordan absurdly demanded:

1. That Israel give the Jordanian Islamic Wakf full authority over the Temple Mount, including the authority to severely restrict (or prevent) non-Muslim visits.

2. That non-Muslims be required to apply to visit in writing in advance.

3. That Israeli security forces be forbidden to enter the Temple Mount, even when Palestinian Arabs violently riot, shoot and/or throw rocks, iron bars and firebombs at Jewish and other worshipers on the Temple Mount or the Kotel (Western Wall) plaza below.

4. That non-Muslim prayer necessities (prayer books, Torahs, tallits) be banned from the site.

5. That non-Muslim visitors be restricted to groups of no more than five people (thereby preventing Jews from forming a minyan to pray).

6. That non-Muslims be restricted to tour routes of no more than 150 meters in each direction.

7. That a dress code be enforced for non-Muslims (demeaning dhimmi dress codes for Jews).

In addition, the Wakf planned to charge non-Muslims admission fees—requiring Jews to pay Muslims to visit Judaism’s holiest site!

All these demands violate the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty’s guarantee that Jews will have full access to their holiest site. (See “ZOA Condemns Jordan’s Egregious Demands to Control Jews’ Holiest Site – the Temple Mount – and to Limit Security & Non-Muslim Visits,” April 28, 2022.)

ZOA urges Jordan, other Arab and Muslim countries, the United States, other countries and the United Nations to respect the provisions of the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty, and the religious, moral and just rights of the Jewish people. Enough with this conspicuous Jew-hatred and Israel-hatred! Let my people pray!

Morton A. Klein is the National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).

Originally published in Israel Hayom.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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