The Rabbinical Council of America and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America today denounced the statement carried in the New York Times by Jewish leaders stating that there is no religious reason to require exclusive Jewish sovereignty over the Temple Mount. In light of the sensitive diplomatic and security situations in which Israel finds itself, the suggestion of shared sovereignty is an anathema. The statement cites a passage from the Prophet Isaiah that refers to the Temple Mount, “that My house shall be called the House of Prayer for all nations” to support the idea that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem can be shared by Jews and Muslims. This passage, in context, clearly states that it is the Jewish Temple that is to be open to all to worship G-d. When King Solomon said that “also the gentile” may pray in the Temple, it is the Jewish Temple that was built on the Temple Mount to which he was referring, not to a temple shared with any other faith.
Regarding the implication that shrines of other faiths are threatened or that access to holy places by all faiths has not been provided adequately under Israeli sovereignty, it must be stressed that the only time during the past 2000 years that the religious practices and traditions of every faith community with interests in Jerusalem have been respected and protected there has been since Israel liberated the Old City in 1967. It is only under Israeli rule that members of all other religions have enjoyed full access to their shrines, a right that Israelis of all faiths were brutally denied between 1948 and 1967. This equal access has even been true of the Temple Mount, where Islamic shrines were built on Judaism’s most sacred site.
In light of the events of the past ten weeks, beginning with the Palestinian Authority’s orchestrated attacks on Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall on Erev Rosh Hashana, it is quite evident that the Muslim authorities have no desire to grant freedom of access to Jewish worshippers. Any calls to “share” the Temple Mount not only fly in the face of Jewish tradition, they also endanger freedom of access to holy places for all.