Friday, October 08, 2021

  • Friday, October 08, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

Times of Israel's coverage on the Jerusalem court's decision that it is not a crime for Jews to silently pray on the Temple Mount adds some important details - and they indicate that this isn't as positive a move as it seems at first glance.

The background: A Jewish man, Aryeh Lippo, was "caught" by Israeli police silently praying on the Temple Mount, and they banned him from returning for 15 days.

Jerusalem magistrate court judge Bilha Yahalom ruled that his silent moving of lips could not be considered a crime and overturned the police ban.

She wrote: “The appellant stood in the corner with a friend or two, there was no crowd around him, his prayer was quiet, whispered.”

“I have not found that the religious acts carried out by the appellant were externalized and visible,” she ruled, determining that such prayer did “not violate police instructions,” and canceling his ban from the site.
This is a very narrow ruling. It doesn't legalize prayer; it just determines that silent prayer said alone does not violate the existing police instructions and the police overstepped their bounds by banning him.

The magistrate court is the lowest court, for minor offenses. This is not a major ruling. And the Israeli police are appealing it.

Advocates for equal rights for Jews on the Temple Mount are not impressed with the ruling:
Long-time activist for Jewish Temple Mount prayer Arnon Segal stressed that despite the ruling’s sentiment, “the simple truth is that (Jewish) prayer is prohibited on the Temple Mount.”

“There’s no change in policy,” he wrote on Twitter, noting that on Thursday police had detained a Jewish man for silent prayer, accusing the state of “trampling” the rights of those prevented from praying.

Segal further told AFP that not only was the ruling was not a precedent, but it would also likely harm his cause.

“The harsh Palestinian reaction to the very weak ruling will deter the justice system and the state from even enabling quiet prayers,” he said.

Indeed, the Muslim world is up in arms, with condemnations coming in from Turkey's Foreign Ministry to the Arab League.

Keep in mind that Jews have been unofficially performing communal prayers daily at the Temple Mount for years now - far beyond what Lippo was detained for. When Naftali Bennett said that Jews have such a right, the reaction caused his office to backtrack and support the bigoted "status quo." 

Notably, Bennett did not delete his original social media posts saying Jews have the right to worship.

If the Israeli government and Israeli police are not vocally supporting the Jewish right to worship on the Temple Mount, and they are willing to cave to Arab pressure on the issue, then this ruling will backfire.

A much more important ruling on the issue was made by Israel's High Court earlier this year. 
In a ruling earlier this year on a petition demanding Temple Mount prayer rights for Jews, Israel’s Supreme Court found that “every Jew has the right to pray on the Temple Mount, as part of the freedom of religion and expression.”

“At the same time, these rights are not absolute, and can be limited to take into account the public interest.”

This is far more expansive and it asserts that Jewish worship is a right - something that the detractors are denying. It is true that public safety is an important concern, but to say that silent prayer endangers public safety is to say that fanatic Jew-hating Muslims have unlimited veto power over Jewish rights by simply threatening violence for the slightest perceived affront. 

The fact is that the twice daily prayers that Jews have been performing for years at the little-traveled eastern section of the Temple Mount have not caused any riots or disturbances. Even the Arab Waqf guards are there and watch. The prayers don't disturb anyone. 

This ruling, paradoxically, can endanger this new status quo of respectful Jewish prayer - because the antisemites will use any excuse to escalate tensions against Jews. Which is exactly what we are seeing today.

If you have any doubt about the antisemitic intentions of the people supposedly outraged at a Jew moving his lips, here is a video from the Palestinian Safa news agency about the topic - with discordant, scary music playing while showing religious Jews praying at the Western Wall.

Jew-haters should not determine what Jewish rights are. 


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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