As I’ve mentioned before, we Israelis spend each summer on guard, knowing that wars and escalations in violence usually take place during this season. Unfortunately, this summer is turning out to be a turbulent one.
First I’ll review the story that is being told around the world. In short, terrorists recently used the Temple Mount as a staging place for an attack to murder two Israeli policemen. In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to install metal detectors at the entry to the Temple Mount to prevent terrorists from bringing in weapons and to ensure the safety of everyone. By the way, Jews and Christians, and everyone else for that matter, must pass through metal detectors to get to the Western Wall, which is just below the Temple Mount. However, the Arab world is incensed at this added security measure. They have boycotted the Temple Mount in refusal to walk through the metal detectors and violence has escalated. Three innocent Jews were murdered in their home while sitting around their Sabbath table on Friday night, rockets are drizzling in from Gaza, and Israeli embassy personnel in Jordan were held hostage after being victim to a stabbing attack.
All of this information and more can be found on the internet and in the news. But I want to share another story, one that isn’t making headlines.
The fact that Muslim Arabs are boycotting the Temple Mount has had a surprising and pleasant side effect – Jews and Christians can finally go up to the Temple Mount without being harassed, spit on, and screamed at by the Arabs who usually frequent the area and don’t want any non-Muslims there. In the past, this harassment has kept most Jews away from the hostile site. But suddenly, the Temple Mount is quiet. It has not been this quiet since the day it was retaken in 1967, and now, those who try to prevent us from going there are gone.
As a result, the Jews are quietly and peacefully going up to the Temple Mount in droves, many for the first time in their lives. It is truly amazing. Usually, the Western Wall is the holiest place Jews go to and is the site of our prayer services. But at this moment in time we can go beyond the Wall – to the Holy Mount itself. We can walk around in peace. We can view the site where both Temples stood without it being desecrated. Interestingly, all of this is taking place during the three weeks when Jews around the world traditionally mourn the destruction of the Temple. Now, we are closer than ever to the dream of one day rebuilding it.
But that dream is just a dream for now. And here’s another part of the untold story. While all of Jerusalem came under Israeli sovereignty in 1967, Israel gave control of the Temple Mount site to the Jordanian religious authorities. The laws are ambiguous and the status quo does not allow any non-Muslims to pray on the Temple Mount; doing so will get a person kicked off the site and probably arrested as well. So while Jews are ascending the Temple Mount in unprecedented numbers, they can only pray in their hearts. They cannot move their lips or whisper any words. A friend of mine got arrested last week for the crime of bowing down on the Temple Mount. There is no freedom of worship on the Temple Mount as of now, and that must change, but this is not the point I want to make.
My point is that the Muslim world is so afraid of the power of our prayers that they do everything in their power to stop us. Shouldn’t we take the power of our prayers that seriously? Do we? If they are so concerned that our prayers may change the world, how much more confident should we be in the power of our prayers?