At Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, ‘The Whole World Is a Very Narrow Bridge’
The Islamist Arab party that is a member of Israel’s governing coalition has criticized the government’s decision to allow Jews to ascend the Temple Mount, declaring that the mount – known by Muslims as Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) – is the “sole property of the Muslims and nobody else has any right to it. The comments came on the commemoration of Tisha B’Av – the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av – when the Babylonians and Romans destroyed the First and Second Temples, respectively. The Ra’am-United Arab List party was angry that groups of Jews were allowed to visit the Temple Mount at all, despite having no such opposition to Muslim or Christian tourists. The ongoing problem continues to appear to be unfixable. Prior to the election, when the question of the Ra’am party serving in the government was raised, many felt religious matters presented an unsurpassable obstacle. Before Tisha B’Av, Prime Minister Bennett vowed that the right of Jews to pray in the area would be enforced, but he later walked back the promise. That Jews are not allowed to pray at Judaism’s holiest site remains a festering issue. A related issue for Israelis was the ill repair of Mughrabi Bridge, the wooden footbridge used to enter the Temple Mount area. With the collapse and stampede that killed more than 40 in northern Israel still fresh in mind, many were livid to learn that the prime minister ordered that the warning on the bridge – desperately in need of major repair and declared fit for use only by security forces – be ignored while more than 1,600 Tisha B’Av visitors climbed the rickety structure.