Ten Jewish men were arrested on Monday after they unfurled Israeli flags and sang the Israeli national anthem atop Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
What could be so wrong about public displays of national pride in one’s own national capital? Unfortunately for these 10 men, all expressions of Jewishness, be they nationalistic or religious, are strictly forbidden atop the Temple Mount, which ironically is Judaism’s holiest site.
Sheikh Yusuf Adeis, a senior local Muslim cleric, told Arabic media that the actions of these Jewish men constituted a “heinous crime” and a “violation of all treaties.”
Nor does it require such a conspicuous demonstration to get oneself expelled from the Temple Mount or even detained and questioned by police. Last Thursday, three Jewish men were led away for quietly reciting prayers at the holy site.
Citing Israel’s laws guaranteeing freedom of religion, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the right of Jews to pray at the Temple Mount. However, the court also continues to permit police to halt any Jewish expressions of faith if they feel such actions could “disturb the peace.” And the Muslim authorities that control the compound have made sure Jewish prayers will indeed result in a disturbance.
Today, any Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount are closely monitored by Muslim guards, who will demand Israeli police action at even the hint that said Jewish visitors are praying.
Fearing an explosion of Muslim violence, Israeli police dutifully play along, leading to repeated criticism that Israel has effectively lost control of the Temple Mount.