The Temple Mount.
A mere 35 acres, this piece of real estate has greater religious and political ramifications than anywhere else in the world, a place where decisions taken can ignite violence of the worst kind.
Why is this location so combustible?
Allow me to ask the question a bit differently, based on the recent events that took place there.
As can be clearly seen on surveillance video, Israeli Arab terrorists shot and killed two Israeli policemen who were simply providing security for the Temple Mount — in fact, they were looking away from the perpetrators, protecting them. The terrorists were not provoked; they simply walked up behind the policemen and shot them point-blank.
Israel had not made any new decisions regarding the Temple Mount, and the impossible-to-understand status quo was still in place:Muslims are the only people of faith who can pray on the Mount. But the police officers were shot anyway.
In response to this violence, and out of fear of possible copycat attacks, Israel placed metal detectors at the entrances to the Temple Mount. No new policies were invoked. No one was prevented from entering the site any more than a metal detector prohibits someone from getting on a plane. The only change implemented was that anyone entering was requiredto be screened by a metal detector, to protect all people visiting there: Jew, Muslim, Christian, and all other religions — including Druze, the faith of the two slain policemen.
The Arab street rioted as their leaders called for a boycott of the Temple Mount, which they refer to as Haram al-Šharif, the Noble Sanctuary. The Arab street was incited by Arab leaders claiming that Israel was changing the status quo and that Muslims were being prevented from entering the sacred site, an outright lie which only exacerbated the situation.
So why did an Israeli security decision — one which could even protect Muslims — ignite such an extreme and violent response?
The answer is simple.
Historical documents and archeological discoveries show clearly that the Dome of the Rock sits where the two Jewish Temples once existed. The moment the Arabs allow Israel to control the Temple Mount — even in the form of asserting its authority to place metal detectors at the entrance — it means that Israel and the Jewish people have a connection to this historic, ancient site, and that their connection to the Holy Land predates the creation of Islam. And that means that the Arab claim that Jews have zero ties to the land, and arrived out of nowhere in the 20th century to steal it, is simply not true.
Jewish presence on the Temple Mount — whether in the form of Jews praying on the site, or a Jewish government establishing security measures like placing metal detectors at the entrance — collapses the Arab narrative.
Arab Knesset member Ahmad Tibi said this outright, when confronted with the historical facts about the two Temples, and about the 700 references to Jerusalem in the Bible (compared with none in the Koran).Tibi became livid and out of control in an interview with Channel 2, screaming at those who dare to contest the “narrative” of the Arabs.
MK Ayman Odah, who heads the Joint Arab List in the Knesset, sent out the following tweet during the current crisis: “We [Arabs] are the natives of this land. We didn’t come to Israel, Israel came to us. Arabic is the language of this land.”
That is their narrative, and why Arab leaders will use any lie and fabricate any story to incite the Arab street when it comes to the Temple Mount. It is part of their need to force Israel to retreat from any gesture indicating a Jewish connection to that piece of holy real estate.
We are currently in the “Nine Days,” when we mourn the destruction of those two Temples which stood right there, on the Temple Mount. The best response that Jews around the world can give is to tell our story — the true story. We should share the historic facts on social media, in blog posts, and during workplace conversations. We should explain how during this very week we continue a 2,000-year-old tradition of mourning for the destruction of those Temples, which stood there on Mount Moriah long before the establishment of Islam.
We have to have conviction in our story — to feel it, to believe it — the way the Arabs stand strong behind their lies.
In the end, truth always wins. But we must believe in our truth, and be determined and bold enough to share it with the world.
By Dov Lipman
Originally from Silver Spring, Maryland, Dov Lipman made aliyah with his wife and four children in 2004. He served as a member of Knesset (2013-2015) with the Yesh Atid party. Lipman has rabbinic ordination from Ner Israel Rabbinical College and a master’s in education from Johns Hopkins University and is the author of seven books about Judaism and Israel.