Thursday, May 02, 2013

I Cannot Continue as if Nothing has Happened

The following is a letter that Moshe Feiglin wrote to his Likud MK colleagues after he was barred from ascending the Temple Mount earlier this week:

21 Iyar, 5773
May 1, '13

Dear Friends,

(Caricature by Asher Schwartz at the

I will not be able to make the following clarifications at the faction meeting, so the right thing to do is to send them to you in writing. I will be happy to add details on a personal basis. The following facts are supported by documents and recordings.

For over a decade, I ascend to the Temple Mount – usually on the 19th of every Hebrew month – and guide the visitors there. Over the years, a basic core group has formed, whose members wait for our monthly ascent to the Temple Mount with my guidance. Two months ago, I visited the Mount for the first time as a Knesset Member. When I requested entry to the Dome of the Rock (as opposed to the El Aktza mosque, the Dome of the Rock is not a mosque) which has always been a tourist site, a friendly wakfmember blocked my path and explained that entry is permitted to Moslems only. I did not argue with him and asked to call in the local police commander. To my amazement, the officer explained to me that for all practical purposes, the place is under the sovereignty of the Moslem wakf. In an answer to a letter that I sent the same day to the Chief of Israel Police, the police essentially admitted that this is the state of affairs. In other words, Israel’s sovereignty at the innermost core of Jerusalem was secretly transferred to the Moslem wakf – with no Knesset decision on the matter being made.

This is the place to explain that the wakf allows any Jew to ascend the Mount as a tourist, but doggedly fights against any show of non-Moslem affinity or sovereignty there. Any citizen or MK can ascend the Temple Mount with a camera and sunglasses, as if he had just arrived on a charter flight from Japan. But if the “tourist” will dare pray a non-Moslem prayer (thus expressing the connection of the Mount to other religions) or to stand at attention during the Memorial Day siren – or any other exhibition of non-Moslem sovereignty on the Mount – the wakf custodians will instigate pandemonium.

As I was blamed for not coordinating my visit to the Temple Mount (an action that was never demanded before) and in order to prevent derogatory remarks – I wrote to the Police Chief, to notify him that I planned to ascend to the Mount on the Sunday of Chol Hamoed Pesach – even though I am not legally required to do so. After receiving my notification, Interior Minister Aharonovitz called a meeting in his office attended by the David District Commander and legal advisors. After various clarifications, it was agreed that I would indeed ascend to the Mount on Pesach, on the date that I had requested. I arrived (with my son) happy and light-hearted on Chol Hamoed Pesach, ready for my festive ascent to the holy place. In light of the agreements with the police, I was convinced that there would be no problems and that this time – the police were prepared to make it possible for me to actualize my legal right as a citizen - and even more so – as a Knesset Member.
Sure enough, the police allowed all the Jews who had gathered that morning to enter the Temple Mount. But they asked me to wait for the District Commander. Initially, I thought that perhaps the District Commander wanted to accompany me on my visit. But instead of accompanying me, the District Commander told me that he prohibits me (and only me) from ascending, due to wakf threats of violence if I would enter the Mount. I asked the District Commander why he was surrendering to threats of violence, punishing those who conduct themselves according to law. Moreover, I am a Knesset Member, which affords me legal immunity. The District Commander’s answer was, “That’s the way it is.”

That time, as well, the police blamed me, strangely claiming that they were forced to prevent my ascent because I announced my planned visit on my Facebook page. That is a preposterous claim. I am not a private person and I do not ascend to the Temple Mount as such. I am a Knesset Member – a public representative – and it is unthinkable to demand that I conduct myself in secret.
Nonetheless, at a chance meeting with the Minister of Internal Security in the Knesset, I agreed with a heavy heart not to announce my next ascent on the 19th of Iyar on my Facebook page. I explained to Minister Aharonovitz that the media know full well that I ascend on the 19th of the month, but that I would not initiate any announcement.

This Sunday, the 18th of Iyar, the Commander of the David Region called me and told me that by “direct instruction from the Prime Minister,” I would not be allowed to ascend to the Temple Mount the following morning.

At this point, the final mask has been lifted. I could no longer evade the issue and blame lower level officials. Nobody attempted to claim that there was a local security problem. After all, I was notified the day before my planned ascent, when the Mount was completely quiet. The situation became crystal clear: The Moslem wakf terrorizes Israel’s government, decides which MKs will ascend the Mount and which will not – and it is none other than the Prime Minister who implements their directives.

This is not a personal issue. Today, the police informed the Knesset Interior Committee that was scheduled to tour the Temple Mount next Tuesday, the 27th of Iyar, Jerusalem Day Eve, that it will not be able to visit on that day or any other day – due to the wakf’s objections. Whoever represents the sovereignty of the State of Israel in the eyes of the sovereign on the Mount – the wakf, is not allowed to visit there. Once again, the wakf demand is implemented by the government of Israel.

I do not have to explain the severe significance of these events to the Knesset Members of the National Movement. All the red lines of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem have been trampled and breached. This is in addition to the infringement of the law inherent in these decisions, the violation of the Jerusalem Basic Law and other Basic Laws. These decisions make a mockery of the immunity and sovereignty afforded to Israel’s Knesset Members. We are facing a new reality that obligates us all to act in an unconventional manner.

I would like to make it clear that the last thing that I want is to find myself in a conflict with the Prime Minister, who I highly respect and am careful to honor. I clearly have nothing to gain from that. Clearly, I do not wish to create difficulties for the rest of the members of the faction. Just the opposite: When I was elected to the Knesset I made no demands. I was happy to accept the duties and tasks that were offered me and I believe that it was obvious to all that I have put every effort into giving the maximum for our common goals.
But what is all my work in the Knesset worth if the Knesset, as it turns out, surrenders Israel’s sovereignty in the heart of Jerusalem?

Who is the sovereign in Jerusalem when the Moslem wakf determines which Knesset Member is allowed or not allowed to ascend to the most holy of places – to the Temple Mount? Who exactly are we fooling? Have we forgotten our vow, “If I forget thee, Jerusalem, may my right hand be forgotten”? What is this vow worth if we ignore the terrible reality in which the wakf dictates to Israel’s government what to do on the Mount, in defiance of the law?

If we could have deceived ourselves until now that we are the sovereign and the wakf acts as an extension of our sovereignty, it has now become clear that it is the government of Israel that acts as an extension of the wakf. We are paving the way for them to rule the entire Land, as the poet of the National Movement, Uri Tzvi Greenberg, warned: “He who rules the Mount rules the Land.”
A red line has been crossed. It was forced upon me with no chance for discussion and does not allow me (and in my opinion, does not allow you, either) to continue to conduct “business as usual.” How can I face myself if, for the good of my political future, I will abandon the Temple Mount?

With a heavy heart and totally converse to my original intent, I am forced to suspend all my regular parliamentary activity. I know that we have just begun this Knesset term and we all have goals and ambitions to accomplish as much as possible. But there are moments in life when one must put everything aside and act according to his conscience. The Temple Mount, the rock of our existence, is calling us. This is the moment.


Moshe Feiglin

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