Temple Mount

Netanyahu Prohibits Israeli Parliament From Visiting Temple Mount

Image via Jabeen Bhatti / RNS

In a bid to defuse the wave of Palestinian violence that has struck Israel and the West Bank during the past few weeks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Oct. 8 prohibited all of the country’s parliamentarians from visiting the Temple Mount, a contentious site holy to both Jews and Arabs.

Netanyahu made the controversial decision in order to quell Muslims’ fears that Israel was preparing to assert sovereignty over part or all of the Mount, the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, and the long-destroyed Jewish Biblical Temples. Netanyahu has long denied such intentions.

Far-right-wing Jews, including Israeli agricultural minister Uri Ariel, say Jews should have the right to pray at Judaism’s holy site, and some have vowed to build a Third Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount. Arab leaders, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, have said such a move would result in a regional war against Israel.

Activists Intent on Building Third Jewish Temple Spark Tensions at Holy Site

The Temple Mount – Haram al-Sharif to Muslims – in Jerusalem is at the center of an intense debate over messianic religious Zionism in Israeli politics and society, and what it means for the future of the peace process. Religion News Service photo by Jabeen Bhatti

It’s a site holy to both Jews and Muslims — considered the most religiously sensitive square kilometer on earth.

These days, the Temple Mount — known as the Haram al-Sharif to Muslims — is at the center of an intense debate over messianic religious Zionism. How Israeli society deals with it may hold the key to the peace process.

Temple Mount tensions were sparked by last month’s attempted assassination of U.S.-born Rabbi Yehuda Glick, who was seriously wounded.

Glick is a fierce advocate for building a third Jewish temple on the site of the Temple Mount, where two Jewish temples stood thousands of years ago. He is also at the forefront of a campaign to allow Jewish prayers at the site. Israel currently bans Jews from praying on the plateau to prevent clashes with Muslims worshipping at the nearby Noble Sanctuary, a mosque considered to be Islam’s third-holiest site, and Jerusalem’s most iconic gold-domed landmark.

Tisha B’Av: An Unloved Jewish Holiday Alters its Rituals

Photo courtesy RNS.

Rabbi Marc Fitzerman views the destroyed temple as a call for introspection, not a call to rebuild. Photo courtesy RNS.

Most people have heard of Hanukkah and Passover and maybe Yom Kippur — the Jewish Day of Atonement. But Tisha B’Av?

Translated as the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, it counts as one of the most important days on the Jewish calendar. But even many Jews have not heard of this period of mourning, which requires a 25-hour fast to commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem.

Tisha B’Av, many rabbis say, can be a tough sell, in part because a radical group of far-right Jews wants to rebuild the temple on the site of what is now the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s most revered sites.