The Temple Mount, Capital of the Kingdom of Israel

For the settler movement and its supporters, Jewish sovereignty over the Temple Mount is just the first act in a larger messianic drama.

A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el
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Israeli flags fly in front of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, Feb 25, 2014.
Israeli flags fly in front of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, Feb 25, 2014.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el

Real Jews don't demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state. Real Jews compel the government to build them a Jewish state.

“The terrorists are still holed up on the Temple Mount. The prime minister and the public security minister still tie the hands of police officers and prevent them from entering buildings where the terrorists are holed up,” the Hebrew-language website Har Habayit Hadashot (Temple Mount News) told its readers on Sunday. “We are still not fulfilling the strictest commandment (the Passover sacrifice) even after the Temple Mount has been in our possession for 50 years.”

Of course, the blame for the violation of this strict commandment falls not on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas but rather on Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, who is not acting against “the rioters who act disruptively to ruin our festival in the place that is the most sacred to the Jewish people," as Adi Mintz, a senior official of the Yesha Council of settlements, wrote in an open letter to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

He added, "the police instead of arresting them [the rioters]... prohibit Jews from ascending to the mount. This is foolish and unwise behavior.” In the letter, Mintz compares Aharonovitch’s appointment as public security minister to the appointment of the Roman emperor Caligula’s horse, Incitatus, as a consul.

Mintz and the Yesha Council are not “wild weeds.” They pretend to represent the “sane” settler movement — the one that supposedly opposes violence and attacks on Israeli security forces. Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz is another real Jew who has trouble understanding how the government, of which he is a member, prevents the entry of Jews onto the Temple Mount.

For him, “It constitutes surrender to terrorism and incitement.” Will he also join the call for Aharonovitch’s dismissal, or will he settle for an opinionated post on a special Facebook account entitled “We all laugh at the Central Sunflower Unit”?

“The Central Sunflower Unit” is the derogatory nickname that activists of the far right have given to department of the Judea and Samaria District Police established to combat nationalistically-motivated crimes. The name comes from the field of sunflowers that was destroyed by minors from the Bat Ayin settlement who were arrested by officers of the new department.

It is hard to distinguish between the Yesha Council, Katz and his associates on the splendid right wing, such as MK Miri Regev (Likud), MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud), the "hilltop youth," the bullies of the Yitzhar settlement and the movements that are mistakenly referred to as “moonstruck” just because their members want to rebuild the Jewish Temple.

All of them have developed into a wild, entangled growth that sees the Jewish government as a threat to the real Jewish state. Their interest is not the desired identity of the state — they have no argument about that — but rather the strain of Judaism that should rule it. The difference between them and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is that Netanyahu, in his modesty, is content with a state where Jewish pluralism exists, while their vision is one of a Jewish kingdom in a purely Jewish country.

This is not a political disagreement about the nature of the promised redemption but rather about the way it will arrive. According to Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the spiritual father of the settlers, settlement in the Land of Israel is only a stage before the true religious redemption. That is the messianic meaning of his doctrine, which has found zealous adherents even among completely secular people, such as Katz and Regev, who, according to Rabbi Kook, will have to undergo messianic conversion themselves.

In the competition between a Jewish state and a messianic one, the hope of conquering the Temple Mount long ago burst out from the dark dens of the Jewish underground and ephemeral groups.

This is an ideology shared by movements that are steadily growing, movements that mistakenly think control over the Temple Mount will be evidence of political sovereignty and add to our national pride. In the eyes of these zealots, though, sovereignty and pride are ultimately worthless; they are nothing but terms that make it easier to recruit non-believers.

The real object is to speed the start of the apocalyptic war of Gog and Magog to prove the power of God, and if taking over the Temple Mount will bring that about, it will be the cosmic miracle they have long awaited. The Israeli state could fall apart on the way there, but it is not the Jewish messianists' state anyway. After all, a state that pleads for the recognition of Palestinians cannot be truly Jewish.

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