Opinion

The Absurdity of the State of Israel vs. 'Shema Yisrael'

Israeli police officers escort a group of religious Jews near the Dome of the Rock Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's old city, June 2, 2019.
Mahmoud Illean,AP

When the justices of the Supreme Court do not treat the Temple Mount as sacred to Jews and in cases where they agree with the Israel Police that it is a “volatile place”; when the prime minister prevents Jews from going there, on similar grounds; when he surrenders to the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust overseeing the site, and removes the metal detectors that were installed at the entrance in the wake of the murder of police officers there; and when he reconciles with the provocation of adding a mosque at the Golden Gate, then the police adopt these overt and covert messages and behave in accordance with the norms that developed as a result.

So, for example, Jews were kept away from the Temple Mount for a significant period because they drank from drinking fountains at the site. A Jewish man who raised his arms in prayer was banned for six months: His action posed a danger to public safety. The height of lunacy, so it seems, was reached with the following indictment, prosecuting Jews for the gravest offense that can be committed on the most sacred (excuse me, volatile) site for Jews, to wit:

"The State of Israel, via the Israel Police, vs.1. Uriah Blum 2. Nachshon Amit 3. Eitan Ben David.

"On 9.17.2018, at or around 10:15 A.M., the defendants took part in a visit to the Temple Mount.... When the visitors reached the Dome of the Rock – Nikanor Gate, defendant No. 3 prostrated himself on the ground and recited 'Shema Yisrael.' Afterward defendant No. 1. prostrated himself on the ground and recited 'Shema Yisrael.' After that defendant No. 2. prostrated himself as well, and he too recited 'Shema Yisrael.'

"As a consequence of their behavior, the defendants were requested to follow the police officers out of the Temple Mount area. And then, when they reached the area of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the defendants recited “Shema Yisrael” out loud.... Muslims began to gather and shout out against the Jews. With their grave actions, the defendants behaved in a public place in a manner that could disrupt the public order. They also interfered with the duties of a police officer.”

Signed: "Chief Inspector Omrit Avni, attorney at law, prosecutor on behalf of the appointment of the commissioner."

It was not the calls of the Muslim crowd against Jews that endangered public safety, but rather the Jews who recited the “Shema,” perhaps the deepest and most holy, painful and emotional call of the Jewish people through the generations. According to the Israel Police, anyone who pours out his heart before God in this prayer-lament – and on His holy mount! – anyone who makes this eternal vow, is committing a “grave action” and disrupting the “public order.” Heaven forbid!

As long as the government, and Benjamin Netanyahu at its head, does not reverse course, the police will continue to persecute the Jews who visit the Temple Mount. When the prime minister removed the metal detectors (whose installation the police, astonishingly, actually recommended), he surrendered to the Waqf. With that, and dozens of similar capitulations, he put the Arabs in control of the arrangements on the Temple Mount, the do’s and the don’ts for Jews. And the Israel Police, which are always in a panic lest the Muslims start a riot, give the politicians’ failings an extreme interpretation.

In this indictment, which will be heard in court in November, the absurdity of the status of the Jews on the Temple Mount reaches new heights. It is, then, a trial of national significance. Some have called for its withdrawal, but they are in error. This is a test case. And the real defendants are the government of Israel, the Israel Police and the judicial system.