By Moshe FeiglinJournalist Shalom Yerushalmi wrote that the current ‘Knife Intifada’ broke out because of me. Since the assassination attempt on Rabbi Yehudah Glick a year ago, PM Netanyahu, taking his directive from the Muslim wakf, prohibits me from visiting the Temple Mount. So the claim that a year after I was personally exiled from the Mount, the Arabs have suddenly remembered Feiglin – and because of him, have started to slaughter Jews in the streets – sounds absurd. Nevertheless, I feel obligated to respond to the claim.
I know Shalom Yerushalmi. I think that he really believes what he wrote. And he is not the only one. Moreover, on a deeper level, his words contain a certain point of truth that must be honestly clarified. This clarification is the most important one we can make right now. For the truth is that the Temple Mount – whether it is the bedrock of our existence or whether it is a barrel of dynamite (apparently, both answers are true) is the Archimedes Point, which, even if we have forgotten and erased this fact – is the focal point of Israel’s entire reality. For 48 years, we have been trying to avoid that Archimedes Point – to evade the understanding that without the Temple Mount, we will not have a national home in Israel. This clarification is vital for, as always, when we do not understand – our enemies volunteer to explain:
When World War I ended, there was more or less nothing here in Israel. It was basically empty. There were, of course, Jews here for centuries, and then there was the First Aliyah ( My family made aliyah 30 years earlier and settled the Galilee). And there were, of course, the settlers of Petach Tikvah and Rishon Letzion (most of them quite observant, by the way). There were also Arabs here. But all in all, the Land of Israel was empty and desolate. The British really did have every intention of fulfilling their promise in the Balfour Declaration. They fully intended to implement the mandate that they had received from the nations of the world at the San Remo Conference: To establish a national home for the Jewish Nation on both banks of the Jordan River. In the decade after their triumph over the Turks, the British called upon the Jews to come to Israel and establish our state. But precisely like the 100 rabbis who signed a petition this week calling on Jews not to visit the Temple Mount -, then – 100 rabbis signed a document calling upon the Jews not to make aliyah to the Land of Israel. There really is nothing new under the sun.
And so, the Jews remained in Europe. And they really did ascend. Not to the Land of Israel but rather, in chimneys.
In the Land of Israel, instead of Jewish nationalism, Arab nationalism awakened and began to slaughter the Jewish communities in the Holy Land. The massacres of 1929 and 1936 raged throughout Israel – from Hebron to Tiberias, Jaffa and Tel Aviv. The person who orchestrated them was the “Herzl” of the (“Palestinian”) nationalism that was newly created as a contra to Zionism – Haj Amin El Husseini. When the British expelled Husseini from the Land of Israel, he connected with Hitler, may his memory be blotted out, spent his time in Europe learning how to operate death camps, put together Muslim Einsatzgruppen, and planned a sweet little Auschwitz for all the Jews in the Land of Israel in the Dotan Valley (about 15 minutes from my home) – near the Hijazi railroad – just like in Europe. Thank G-d, Montgomery stopped Rommel in El Alamein and the ‘Palestinian’ plans were postponed.
To the best of my knowledge, no Jew visited the Temple Mount during or prior to the Holocaust years (and the Temple Mount interested the Muslims then as much as Judea and Samaria interested the ‘Palestinians’ during the years of Jordanian rule). The British even severely limited prayer at the Western Wall during those years. But wonder of wonders – Husseini called for his Muslim followers to “Kill the Jews” because they were destroying the El Aktza mosque on the Temple Mount, resulting in the massacres of scores of Jews in Hebron and Tiberias.
Today too, the Jews are doing nothing that the Arabs claim they are doing on the Temple Mount. If a Jew even makes a short blessing over an apple on the Mount, the police will arrest and expel him. Nevertheless, today the Temple Mount also serves as an excuse for Muslims to slaughter Jews.
Deep down, the negative of Zionism – the new Arab nationalism – feels that the front lines of the struggle are there, on the Temple Mount – regardless of if there are Jews there or what exactly they are doing.
Shalom Yerushalmi and 1967 Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, Binyamin Netanyahu and journalist Ilana Dayan can dream to their hearts’ content about a small Switzerland with a high wall along Israel’s pre-1967 border behind which we can all forget that we are (persecuted) Jews and simply live in our “place among the nations” (the title of Netanyahu’s book). They can even build the wall, and they can even fold up our blue and white flag and replace it with all colors of the rainbow, under international sponsorship. They can even bring the British back here and prohibit prayer at the Western Wall again. It will not help them. The proverbial ‘Husseini’ will always show up and slaughter them – because of the Temple Mount.
I once read an article about German Jewish Holocaust survivors who still blame the Jews of Poland for the horrors perpetrated by the Germans. “When I see the Ultra-Orthodox, I understand the Nazis,” said Israel Prize winner Tumarkin. If those Polish Jews would just have shaved off their beards, like me, the Nazis would never have gotten upset and burned us all…It is difficult for Jews who are looking for nothing else than a place among the nations, Jews who wish to look like them, to eat like them, to speak like them – to be a nation like all the other nations. It is hard for them to accept the fact that even if they shed all the exterior differences, they will always have the word ‘Jew’ branded on their foreheads. They will always prefer to blame their brothers for the failure of the national assimilation. For if they would blame the nations of the world, it would mean that it is impossible to escape our Jewish identity and destiny.
And that is the story taking place today on the Temple Mount.
The message heralded by the everlasting nation that touched eternity is drawn in its entirety form the place chosen by G-d. The Temple Mount truly is the bedrock of our existence in the most essential way. The Mount is not just a sentimental site. It is not even a historic site. It is more like a huge power socket that connects to and nourishes the Israeli motor for the past three thousand years.
We preserved our identity and returned to our Land because, despite all the Auschwitzes, we never disconnected our national plug from the power socket in the heart of Jerusalem. Furthermore and most important – this power socket continues to provide our vitality here and now. At this very moment. Because, in truth, without our message, there really is no reason for our existence and we would finish, G-d forbid, like the generation of Jews in the desert, who did not want to fulfill their destiny and enter the Land of Israel.
It is not because of Israel’s tanks or hi-tech that we will continue to exist (and I am the last person to belittle the necessity of both). It is also not because of our past – glorious as it may be. It is the future that gives meaning and validity to our lives. It is not existence that makes destiny possible. Just the opposite: It is destiny that makes existence possible. And our destiny is completely tied up with the Temple Mount. We attempted to create substitutes: All of them failed and our strength is sapping. We live on protection payments to Gaza in the form of truckloads of cash and free electricity that we give them so that they will not shoot at us. And when they nonetheless spend two months shooting at Tel Aviv, we cannot find a solution. And the world no longer believes in us and the legitimacy of our existence slowly dissipates. What Begin did in Iraq thirty years ago, we are incapable of doing in Iran today -even though we are much stronger now than we were then.
The farther we stray from our destiny, the weaker we become.
“We built a state for you because we dreamt of a place in which the new Book of Books would be written as we approach the redemption of the world. For you, after all, are a treasured nation,” a group of British intellectuals explained to Professor Ze’ev Tzachor the loss of Israeli legitimacy in London. “We had expectations, and look what you have done.” I could not have articulated Jewish destiny better than they did.
The Muslims of Husseini, however, do not need all these intricate formulas. They do not need the British intellectuals and they don’t need my articles. With their sharp senses, they understand everything better than all of us – the believers and the cynics combined. They understand perfectly well that even if you close yourself in Tel Aviv and completely disconnect from the “barrel of dynamite” on the Temple Mount; even if you completely deny your destiny – our strength comes from there, nonetheless. And the more that you are afraid and distance yourself from the destiny and from the physical place from which it emerges – so your enemies become convinced that in no time they will succeed in disconnecting the plug from the socket. They dream to connect their plug into the socket instead and create their own Zionism: ‘Palestinism’. The more you flee the Mount, the more they will plunge their knives into your back in Tel Aviv. Because of the Temple Mount.
Just like those German Jews, we also desperately attempt to deny our identity. Today we do so by denying our destiny. That is why we are so afraid of the Temple Mount and so angry at the Jews who visit there and insist on connecting us to it. Just like those German Jews, we also prefer to think that it is because of those ‘Eastern’ Polish Jews – those Jews who go up to the Mount and upset the Arabs. That is even true. They really do get very upset when Jews visit the Mount – even if they don’t pray there. By their very presence, those Jews prove that the plug is still very deep inside the socket.
But like the German Jews whose German citizenship did not save them from their shared identity with the Polish Jews, we will also never succeed in escaping our destiny that is wrapped up with the Temple Mount. It will not help to blame those few Jews who do not deny our shared destiny. All the Jews – observant and non-observant – shared the same cattle cars when they chose not to make aliyah to the Land of Israel; whether they preserved their Jewish identity or tried to flee it. And we will also all share the same knives, and missiles and terror – as long as we continue to refuse to return to the Mount. To return Home.