Joint Faith Council Must Govern Temple Mount

Victorious in the 1967 “Six-Day War,” Israel granted Muslim autonomy of this prized Holy site as a way for Jews and Christians to appease Islamic sensibilities. Upon capturing Jerusalem, Israeli General Moshe Dayan granted continued Muslim status quo control of the Temple Mount. The area is known by the Arabic name, Haram esh Sharif, and to the Israelis as Mount Moriah. Explained as a “respectful and politically astute” gesture, that move has proven to be a terrible mistake of historic proportions. After giving Muslim Temple Mount authorities (Waqf) control of the Temple Mount, Jews and Christians now suffer the consequences of Dayan’s misdirected solution.

The actual reason Dayan give Waqf control of the Temple Mount had nothing to do with historical claims. Although Israel had every right to reclaim control, Dayan feared galvanizing Muslim nations into launching an overwhelming counter-attack against Israel. Keep in mind, France was Israel’s principal ally in 1967. Had the United States been Israel’s dominant supporter, Dayan more likely would have been in position to exercise Israel’s right to retake control of the Temple Mount.

Since 1967, the Waqf has not reciprocated to Dayan’s peaceful gesture. Instead, Jews, Christians and other faiths unabashedly have been persecuted and humiliated with dogged arrogance and intimidation. After nearly 40 years of brutal disrespect for other faiths, the Waqf has clearly squandered any legitimate claim to unconditional authority on the Temple Mount. Their claim is revoked by the Waqf’s blatant and flagrant intolerance of other faiths and its reckless desecration of the World’s most Holy Mountain.

WAQF INTOLERANCE AGAINST CHRISTIANS AND JEWS

While any Muslim may carry the Quran into any synagogue or Christian church or Holy site without challenge, Waqf officials prohibit any religious rights for Jews or Christians. This includes all areas atop the huge, flat Temple Mount. There exists some Islamic claim that the area includes, so precious to Judaism, even the Western Wall (“Wailing Wall”) or Kotel. In fact, Christians and Jews actually can be arrested for bringing Scriptures, religious books, etc. Only symbols with Islamic reference are permitted. An especially vicious abuse is forbidding Hebrew text of any kind – even secular texts. In essence, the Waqf claims the right to ban an entire people, their faith and language from their “Most Holy Place.”

Still, all this is tolerated by the other faiths, out of respect for “Islamic sensitivity.” In return, Waqf patronizes by designating “permissible” visiting days for Jews and Christians to the Temple Mount. That is, permission is granted so long as mandated “obedience” exists toward strict Waqf policies described. Jewish and Christian visitors are continually under Waqf surveillance. Israeli police are promptly summoned to enforce Waqf polices against visitors guilty of “infractions.”

Yes, Rabbinical authorities also place restrictions on Jews visiting the Temple Mount. However, profoundly different from Waqf motives, Jewish restraints apply only to avoid unintentionally or unknowingly treading upon what might be “Holy Ground.”

THE WAQF IS DESTROYING THE TEMPLE MOUNT

For many years the Waqf has flagrantly conducted illegal construction on the Temple Mount, including road construction. In the process, dozers, skip-loaders, back-hoes, and rollers and shovels have destroyed hundreds – maybe even thousands — of precious, important artifacts and archaeological clues, of great value to sincere Jewish, Christian and even secular archaeologists. To prevent further harm, Israel (with support of her allies) must publicly denounce these intolerable situations and immediately revoke Waqf autonomous control of the Temple Mount.

Ignoring respectful, though impassioned protests, the Waqf persists in this destruction. — Why? – Islam is intent upon destroying any legitimate claims of future Jewish inclinations toward rebuilding the Temple. That prophetic eventuality is increasingly precious to Jews and Christians, alike, as we near the Arrival (Return !) of Messiah.

JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM MUST COOPERATE IN CONTROL OF THE TEMPLE MOUNT

Jewish and Christian faithful have rights of visit and worship at that Holy site equal to those of Muslim faith. Jewish and Christian Worlds therefore must diplomatically, but firmly and unflinchingly, insist that control be granted to a Joint Faith Council instead of the Waqf. The Temple Mount is the holiest mountain on our planet. — It is God’s gift to All faiths – to humankind!

The Council should be convened, representing the several faiths holding reverence for this “Holy Place.” It is suggested that members be laypersons – no Rabbis, Imams, Reverends, Priests, etc. Some members should be drawn from civil and legal authorities, including archaeological interests, preferably from secular philosophy in that field. Such control would eliminate present domination of Temple Mount activity, access by any single religious faith and further desecration of precious archaeological items.

It is na├»ve and a gross understatement to expect such a jurisdictional revision will succeed in timely fashion and without Islamic objection and even some inter-Faith and “Intra”- Faith strife. Especially critical is present “strife” between Israeli and Palestinian as well as other Islamic entities. Nevertheless, the status quo authority and practices render obvious the fact that a respectful and equitable arrangement is mandatory. It CAN and MUST be done – the sooner – the better.

Access to the mountain, construction, maintenance, utilities, etc. throughout the Temple Mount, should be under Joint Council responsibility and supervision. An exception would apply to such tasks inside Mosque walls. Singular Waqf authority would end at the boundaries of those properties. Qualified contractors submit bids to the Board, which assigns and supervises tasks to insure that all construction provides what is best for the Temple Mount – the World’s Most Sacred Ground.

Further, Council control can be restored while still maintaining rightful respect for Mosques and other Islamic Holy sites. The Waqf can continue maintaining control and restrictions to visits within THEIR specific Islamic sites, Mosques, etc. It is in the best interest of the world that return of worship freedom to ALL faiths will best be achieved through trusting control of the remainder Temple Mount grounds to the Council. This noble imperative offers the promise of a great step toward promoting healing of wounds among the three major faiths. Equally important, it insures against continued destruction of priceless archaeological items.

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