My father-in-law, Mordechai Shalev, who passed away recently, told me once when I came back from the Temple Mount – a site I really love, and not for nationalist reasons – “That’s a place whose beauty is unfathomable.”
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“Unfathomable beauty” – what an accurate description! I hope that those who have started visiting the Mount recently – those right wingers and inflammatory MKs, putting aside their declarations that amount to nothing more than real-estate claims – also manage to recognize the incomparable beauty there.
But even if those politicians’ eyes are incapable of seeing anything but their immediate self-interest, and even if all they’re interested in is letting demons out of the bottle, we can be encouraged by the fact that a materialist and consumerist society such as ours has managed to place an ancient, spiritual issue such as the Temple Mount so high on our list of priorities.
If we thought that Herzl could have made his Uganda plan fly with the current generation of Israelis, we were wrong.
There is still no substitute for Zion as far as we’re concerned – and I wouldn’t underestimate what that means.
Numerous times I’ve asked myself if we’ll be able to compete with the Arabs in the long term, as the bonds tying them to this land are stronger than anything else – including civil rights, personal freedom and, certainly, quality of life.
There is no doubt that our bitter rivals, those competing with us for the land, are making great sacrifices to that end, and most of us would never think of giving up on those things.
Yet those who storm the barricades for cottage cheese are also interested in the Temple Mount?
When it turns out that the Temple Mount is not only of interest to the delusional, and when it garners increasing support from the public at large, it means that we are better than those of Sodom and Gomorrah. It means that Israelis are still interested in things other than GDP and the size of our cars.
The (incredibly dangerous) competition for the Temple Mount teaches us that this struggle is not just about the powerful, not just about control. It still has a dimension of connection and emotion. If we ignore the explosive political angle for a moment, we’ll see a delightful image. People who spend most of their lives in moldy conference rooms are coming out into the open.
Because the Temple Mount, for those who have yet to visit, is also a wonder of nature. A site encircled by greenery, orchards and ancient olive trees – God’s own acre. You will always meet families there by the stone walls, women resting with their small children under the trees while the men pray. The height of serenity on earth, like a mythical image.
From here, if you need a break from the draining aspects of it, we can even regard the Elkins, Feiglins and Danons as those looking to breathe the fresh air, as people looking for a good reason to bathe their eyes in the blues, greens and gold, and witness an incredible view.
Without meaning to, they’re awakening dormant sentiments among the public, sharpening those senses that have gone dull. And for that, at least, they actually deserve some praise.