Saturday People, Sunday People Seek Peace
Through the eyes of a sojourner …
Why can’t Jews and Christians pray or sing on the Temple Mount? A visit to the Temple Mount Plaza is revealing and, honestly, a little shocking. This is the holiest Jewish site in Jerusalem, but it feels like a spiritual no-man’s land. Tour guides inform their groups that all non-Muslim prayer is forbidden. After passing through two security checks, a quick survey of the plaza reveals no vestige of Judaism. This is nothing new. In 1217, Spanish pilgrim Judah al-Harizi was deeply distressed when he arrived on the Mount. “What torment to see our holy courts converted into an alien temple!” he wrote. Indeed, from the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, until June 7, 1967 when the city was retaken by Israel in the Six Day War, the Temple Mount was never once under Jewish authority. It has always remained, however, the ultimate destination in the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Christians, too, have an attachment to the Temple Mount based on Jesus’ words and deeds as recorded in the Gospels. It seems outrageous that Jews and Christians are not permitted to read their scriptures, sing praises or pray aloud on the Temple Mount. But even that is not the greatest scandal: During the Camp David Accords, PLO Chairman Yassar Arafat denied that any Jewish Temple had ever existed on the Temple Mount.