When Yehuda Glicks cell phone rang at the beginning of an event at Jerusalems Begin Heritage Center, he joked, I always leave the phone on, so if they tell me theres a permit to build the Holy Temple, I can leave in the middle.
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Hours later, the right-wing activist was shot at point-blank range and seriously injured.
The day began with a conference at the Begin center, entitled Israel returns to Temple Mount. It focused mainly on Jewish aspirations to pray on the holy site without being harassed, or yelled at. However, most members of the audience supported the whole package, including replacing the Al-Aqsa Mosque with the Third Temple. The date of the conference was set for the sixth of the Jewish month of Heshvan, the date the Rambam visited Temple Mount hundreds of years ago.
Glick, the driving spirit behind the movement to enable Jews to visit and pray on the Temple Mount, led the event. He had once gone on a hunger strike in order to get the police to let him visit.
He blamed the traffic jams that caused the event to start late on provocations by the police, (left-wing NGO) Ir Amim and Palestinians who closed the Ayalon Highway so [participants] couldnt get here.
'Did Washington give up the White House?'
Rabbi Israel Ariel, head of the Temple Institute — which describes its ultimate goal as rebuilding the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, in accord with the Biblical commandments — opened the conference. He declared that he objected to visiting the Begin Center because it was former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who had expelled him from the Sinai settlement of Yamit. I enter this building only because of the conference subject, he said. Begins heritage is an abysmal heritage. He sold out Sinai. Ariel added, Did Washington give up the White House and Paris the Eiffel Tower? We are the most humiliated of all peoples.
He was followed by Likud MK Miri Regev, who said that before she met the people visiting the Temple Mount she thought they were a bunch of wackos.
I decided to meet these wackos, to see what they had to say, she recalled. In the end they convinced her. Regev also attacked Muslim women who weep on theTemple Mount. They weep because they are paid, she said. The Islamic movement pays them to sow dissent.
She attacked Habayit Hayehudi party and its leader, Naftali Bennett, for not pressing for the approval of regulations that would allow children to pray on Temple Mount. Nothing will happen if Jews say Shema Yisrael [the prayer], she said, even if it annoys the Jordanians. Jews will go to Temple Mount, period.
Regev cant take criticism without lashing back, even from the right. When those present complained to her that they did not want to wait any longer, she said, I did in a short while more than what you did in several years.
Architect of the Temple
When architect Yoram Ginsburg, who works on building the Temple model, attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, she assumed because of his secular appearance, which included an earring, that he was a Haaretz journalist, and attacked him as such. Afterwards, Glick took the floor and defended Habayit Hayehudi members, adding that some of his friends are also from the left and even from Haaretz.
Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Eli Ben Dahan (Habayit Hayehudi) tried to deflect criticism of his party, and passed the buck to Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
We managed to change the discourse, said Dahan, finding an optimistic side. Now we are not a group of wackos, but it will take time. The day will come when the prime minister and even the justice minister will support regulations [enabling] Jewish prayer.
Feiglin: No Waqf on the Mount when I'm PM
Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, a Temple Mount regular, told the audience members not to waste their time trying to convince Netanyahu to change Temple Mount policy. Instead, he said, the problem will be solved if he becomes prime minister. Its clear that when I will be prime minister, there wont be a Waqf on Temple Mount, referring to the Muslim trust in charge of the site, known to them as Haram al-Sharif (The Noble Sanctuary).
Ginsburg, the Temple model architect, said that he and Yehuda Etzion were not invited to deliver speeches because Glick is trying to present a different approach. Etzion, a former member of a Jewish terrorist underground, is founder of another group promoting Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.
Glick also wants Arabs to be there, noted Ginsburg. From our perspective, there is no Al-Aqsa, no Dome of the Rock or Muslim connection. We even calculated how many billions the Muslims owe us in rent for usurping the place. Ginsburg was proud that he was the first architect to agree to work with Etzion after 22 others refused. Asked what will happen to the Muslims used to praying there, he responded, Tough luck. He showed me an architectural handbook he printed that describes the influence a Third Temple would have on Jerusalem, forecasting 3,000,000 people arriving and taking up space stretching all the way to the suburbs of [the Palestinians West Bank city] Ramallah.
Many at the event love the Temple Mount so much that they minimize the value of the Western Wall. Holding a Pilot pen, Ginsburg even suggested boycotting the Western Wall until more Jews visit the Temple Mount.
With all due respect to the Western Wall, the direction is the Temple Mount, where the Temple stood, chimed in Matan Peleg, the CEO of Im Tirzu who also spoke at the event.
Its very important for Jews to acknowledge the most important place to the Jewish people, the Temple Mount. The Western Wall is just a supporting wall that King Herod built, added Ido, a Temple Mount activist.
A Bedouin supporter too
In between, the crowd also heard from Nour Mazariv, a Bedouin from the lower Galilee village of Zarzir, who felt at home sitting between Regev and Feiglin. Its the land of the Chosen People, he insisted. If you dont have a Temple, you have no independence. They also lynched me because I spoke Hebrew in Nazareth. How are the Palestinians a people? Arabs originate from the Saudi peninsula. They are tribes from North Africa. Its just a clan that calls itself a people.
A surprise attendee was Aviv Tatarsky of the left-wing NGO, Ir Amim, which strives to balance rights for Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem. A friend of Glicks, he said it was hard for him that on Rosh Hashanah the site of the Temple Mount/ Haram al-Sharif had turned into a battleground, for which he held the Temple Mount movements responsible. He also stressed that it is hard for him that 30,000 Palestinians have not been able to receive a permit to visit Temple Mount since the murder of the three Israeli teenagers in Gush Etzion this past summer. Glick got on stage and said that he, too, wanted Palestinians to be able to pray, and they shook hands.
A softer sell
Glick is an exceptional right-wing activist, who also befriends secular Jews and left-wingers, and recalled how he had spoken at an Ir Amim event. In contrast to Feiglin, who insists that visits to the Temple Mount should not be regarded as part of the discourse on human rights but rather as an issue of Israeli sovereignty, Glick views the matter as a question of freedom of worship for members of all religions, so he manages to reach a broader audience.
Before I left, after one of the speakers called him King David because of his flaming red hair, I shook his hand. We had become friends since Likud MK Tzipi Hotovelys wedding, to which he came carrying dirt from the Temple Mount in his pocket. We talked about how he doesnt arouse anger among the left and has no major enemies, and that its clearly a bad thing when people harass Jews or people of any religion when they try to pray at a place that is holy to them.
The Arabs know who to harm, an activist close to Glick wrote me. They did it to Minister Rehavam Zeevi [assassinated in 2001] and now to Yehuda Glick. Yehuda was actually on their side. I was always amazed at how he respected them.