Following the wave of violence at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount that accompanied the confluence of Ramadan and Passover (and Easter), the Israel Democracy Institute found that a majority of Israelis want Jewish prayer at the religious flashpoint.
As part of its annual Independence Day survey, the Israel Democracy Institute asked Israelis their thoughts on the Temple Mount, Jewish sovereignty there, and the government’s handling of last month’s confrontations.
Half of all respondents said Jews should be allowed to pray at the Temple Mount.
Currently, Jews are forbidden to pray at the Temple Mount, the one place in all of Israel where the state denies religious freedom for all but one group, Muslims.
Unsurprisingly, those supporting Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount were mostly right-wing and religious Zionist voters, while those voting for left-wing or ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties opposed.
Did you know: Most ultra-Orthodox Jews are against Jewish prayer atop the Temple Mount for fear of accidentally treading on the Holy of Holies.
Among those who want Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount, most said their reasoning was not necessarily religious, but rather to demonstrate Jewish sovereignty.
While Israel maintains security control of the Temple Mount, the courtyard atop the sacred plateau where the Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock are located (and where the Jewish Temple once stood) is administered by the Islamic Trust (Waqf), a Jordanian religious body.
This, coupled with the government’s repeated apologetic commitment to the “status quo,” has left most Israelis feeling their nation doesn’t truly have sovereignty at Judaism’s holiest site.
Just 33% of respondents said they were happy with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s handling of the clashes at the Temple Mount last month. And this, again, has much to do with the perception that Bennett and his government capitulated by temporarily barring Jewish visitors to the site in order to appease the Muslims.
By contrast, over half of respondents were pleased with the Police responses to repeated eruptions of violence by Muslims atop the Temple Mount. For a number of days in a row, police officers used all the anti-riot methods and tools at their disposal to battle and eject the Muslims who were causing all the trouble.