It’s perhaps the most important question for new MK Yehudah Glick (Likud): How does he feel that people close to him politically seek to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount?
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The beginning of Glick’s response was very tolerant. “Anyone whose aim is to destroy someone else’s house of prayer is not from my camp,” he said. But what followed was different; he began by referring to the Muslim religious trust on the Mount, the Waqf.
“I’m very much afraid that the Waqf’s everything-is-mine conduct could cause the destruction of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. If they want to continue with the everything-is-mine policy and sooner or later start up with a war, they might pay the price,” he said.
“If they want peace, we will come to an agreement, but if they want to fight, it’s not certain they’ll come out on top. I very much hope they learn from experience and don’t refuse an agreement. They turned down the partition plan,” he added, referring to the 1947 plan that sought to turn British-held Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state.
“They could have established 28 states at this point. Sooner or later, the number of Jews who go up to the Mount will require an honorable arrangement. If they continue with their everything-is-mine approach, ultimately someone who says ‘everything is mine’ and doesn’t accept others will be left with nothing.”
How do you see such a scenario being able to happen?
“I’m not a prophet, but Jews will continue going up and their numbers will grow. If there is a war, I assume that Israel will defend itself and we will come out on top. They’re liable to pay a heavy price. People know how to get into a war but not how to get out. I’m not threatening anyone, I’m calling on the Arabs ‘Come, let’s live together in peace.’ I want the Temple Mount to be a house of prayer for all peoples.”
What status quo would you like on the Mount?
“I want freedom of worship to prevail on the Temple Mount and for anyone who wants to commune with his God on the Mount to be able to do so. It’s a place that’s holy to billions of people Jews and Christians and also Muslims. I want all of us to be able to pray together. I’ve organized several joint prayer [sessions] of Jews and Muslims.
“There’s no reason that the first association with the Temple Mount is World War III and a Middle East in flames. Why wouldn’t it be ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples’? [Isaiah 56:7]
“But if the Muslims aren’t capable of seeing Jews pray, we have to find an arrangement like at [Hebron’s] Tomb of the Patriarchs, with Jews and Muslims praying at different times. That would be the direction.”
What do you think of the police’s claim that you’re the most dangerous person in the Middle East?
“It’s part of a demonization campaign that the police have waged against me. Time after time they’ve lost in court. I’ve endured two attempts to kill me, the second more painful than the first.
“The Israel Police tried for a number of years to take my life; tried to portray me as a monster and a criminal, making up stories. But there is a court that has been able to throw them out time after time.
“This quote about the most dangerous person in the Middle East was never said about anyone else, not about Yasser Arafat and not about [Hamas leader Ismail] Haniyeh; only about Yehudah Glick. It was said by an official entity of Israel, by police officials. That’s the most horrible violence there is. I was helpless in the face of a crushing, humiliating and violent system. I sustained physical blows.
“It seems to me that the police have shaped this image among a large number of Israelis. Anyone following my activities knows it’s not true, but in every joint interview with me, the Arab Knesset members cite it. It’s damaging, but I’ve developed a thick skin and am moving on. I hope that the more people get to know me, the more they’ll understand that this is a false accusation. I’m a human rights and peace activist, and that’s how I’d like people to relate to me.”
The police did not provide a response to Glick’s statements. In any case, Glick’s approach to the Western Wall seems to come with reservations.
Is the Wall important to you?
“The Wall is important to me just as the entire Old City is important to me. There’s no difference between the Western Wall and the eastern Wall or the southern or northern wall. The Wall is important because millions of Jews look up to it, but the Temple Mount is the only holy place.
“The Wall doesn’t have anything like that. It’s the difference between heaven and earth. It’s like your parking lot is important, but you don’t compare a parking lot to a bedroom. I’m not comparing the Wall to a parking lot, but it doesn’t have the holiness that the Temple Mount has.
“[The Wall] is a place that causes damage because people think it’s a holy place and think it’s a substitute for the Temple Mount. People come to the Wall and feel like they’ve reached the summit. It’s not the summit and not anything. People enjoy the substitute, and that in my view is profaning God’s name.”
Why profaning God’s name?
“The Holy One, Blessed Be He, said that he chose one place, and people come and say: ‘That’s not correct. We’ve decided that you chose another place.’ It’s almost like the sin of the [golden] calf in which the people said ‘This is thy God, O Israel.’ It’s hugely profaning God’s name.
“The Holy One, Blessed Be He, chose the Temple Mount and commanded people to come to the Temple Mount. That’s the only place that a Jew is commanded to go to, and the Wall is not. It’s almost as if the Zionists had gone to Uganda even though the Holy One, Blessed Be He, said the Land of Israel.”
The writer is the deputy director for research and information at the nonprofit group Hiddush For Religious Freedom and Equality.