Religious Zionist Rabbis: Ascend the Temple Mount

Rival leaders united Sunday at a right-wing conference advocating Jewish ascent to the Temple Mount.

Top religious Zionist leaders came together Sunday at a rightist conference advocating Jewish ascent to the Temple Mount.

It's hard to remember when was the last time Israel saw such a unity between its religious Zionist leaders. Political rivals such as MKs Uri Orbach and Michael Ben Ari sat side by side on the center stage; Moderate rabbis 'respectful of the government' like Rabbi Yuval Sherlo and Rabbi Yaakov Medan came together with 'rebellious Haredi nationalists' such as Rabbi Elyakim Levanon and Rabbi Dov Lior.

They all joined together to call upon the Jewish public to ascend the Temple Mount, despite the harsh criticism directed at them from the Haredi sector as well as from some national-religious rabbis.

Rabbi Medan, one of the heads of the moderate Yeshivat Har Etzion, told the conference participants that he recently met with a 'top defense official' and discussed the sparse presence of Jews in the Temple Mount.

"He spoke of the significance of Jews ascending the Temple Mount, and said that he already got us permits to ascend. 'Where are you?,' he asked. He sees this as an existential struggle, and believes we must recruit more people."

Despite the conference's political unity, many of the speeches carried an apologetic tone towards those opposing to the ascent of the Temple Mount because of Jewish law.

Some of the religious Zionist rabbis still oppose the ascent to the Temple Mount on the basis of Jewish law, a position similar to all the Haredi rabbis. Rabbi Shlomo Avinar, a religious Zionist Rabbi, published an article on Sunday in the newspaper Makor Rishon where he wrote "The Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook was no less idealistic, no less courageous, no less devoted, didn't have less intuition than all the 'bad seeds that set fire to fields'. He pushed the whole settler movement, and instructed not to touch the Temple Mount. He who says not to touch isn't necessarily weak, and the enthusiast isn't necessarily a hero."