The Charedi in­va­sion of Tem­ple Mount

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY NATHAN JEFFAY

FOR CEN­TURIES, re­li­gious Jews have taken the view that climb­ing Tem­ple Mount is pro­hib­ited. But this is chang­ing, and fast.

Since it was re­opened to non-Mus­lims just over eight years ago, a mas­sive sea-change has taken place among re­li­gious Zion­ists. Many prom­i­nent rab­bis has de­clared that it is per­mit­ted to go, and en­cour­aged peo­ple to do so. Now, this re­think seems to be spread­ing to the Charedi com­mu­nity.

Many re­li­gious Zion­ist rab­bis have ef­fec­tively de­cided that the chief rab­binate made a mis­take in 1967. Af­ter Israel cap­tured the site in the Six Day War it banned re­li­gious Jews from as­cend­ing, rea­son­ing that one could ac­ci­den­tally step on the Holy of Holies — where one must not tread — as its lo­ca­tion is un­known.

While many, in­clud­ing the cur­rent chief rab­bis, hold to the tra­di­tional po­si­tion, those who visit claim ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ev­i­dence means they know where not to tread. Sup­port­ers of the pro-vis- it­ing po­si­tion range from the fire­brand set­tler Rabbi Dov Lior, to Yu­val Cher­low, leader of the mod­er­ate and lib­eral Tzo­har rab­bini­cal al­liance.

Ear­lier this month, 200 peo­ple took to the streets of the Strictly Or­tho­dox neigh­bour­hood of Geu­lah for a demon­stra­tion in favour of as­cend­ing. And a new or­gan­i­sa­tion, the Charedi As­so­ci­a­tion for As­cend­ing Tem­ple Mount, in­tends to start run­ning group vis­its.

This is not just change, but a rare case of Charedim fol­low­ing re­li­gious Zion­ists on a ha­lachic mat­ter. Per­haps more re­mark­able is the way that this re­think is fil­ter­ing down to the Charedi com­mu­nity. This is a grass-roots move­ment or­gan­ised by the pub­lic and one of its aims was to start pres­sur­ing rab­bis to re­con­sider their po­si­tion.

Charedi rab­bis care pas­sion­ately about Jewish con­trol of Jerusalem. The lead­ers of this cam­paign say that vis­its are key to as­sert­ing Jewish rights over Tem­ple Mount, which is run day-to-day by a Mus­lim trust. If they are pa­tient, they may well have some suc­cess with the Charedi rab­bis.

THE COL­LAPSE of the Gaddafi regime in Libya this week is ex­pected to have lit­tle di­rect ef­fect on Israel, but it could pro­vide in­spi­ra­tion for the pro-democ­racy forces in Syria. Is­raeli an­a­lysts re­main un­de­cided on the im­mi­nence of Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad’s fall from power and its de­sir­abil­ity for Israel.

The last six months of chaos in Libya had an ad­verse ef­fect on the re­gion as ter­ror groups af­fil­i­ated with Al-Qaeda and Be­douin smug­glers plun­dered aban­doned Libyan Army arms de­pots. Many of those weapons found their way into Egypt, mainly the Si­nai Peninsula, where they helped fuel the state of an­ar­chy near Israel’s south­ern bor­der that has ex­isted ever since Pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak was forced to re­sign in Fe­bru­ary. Some

PHOTO: FLASH 90

Rab­bis are chang­ing their mind over vis­its to the mount

PHOTO: AP

Gaddafi’s fall could fur­ther desta­bilise As­sad

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