|IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren
(center),with General Uzi Narkiss
(left) at the Western Wall, June 7, 1967
(Fresno Zionism h/t Love of the Land) On June 7th, 1967, Israeli Paratroopers liberated the Temple Mount. Although some religious leaders (including, initially, Rabbi Shlomo Goren) favored destroying the Dome of the Rock and building a Third Temple, this idea was never seriously considered. But short of that, what was to be done? There was a debate among the rabbis about how to deal with the prohibition against entering the Holy of Holies. Some proposed simply banning Jews from the entire area. But Rav Goren felt that Jews should be allowed to pray on at least specified parts of it, because otherwise Israel would lose its sovereignty there.
In a confidential memorandum to the Ministerial Committee for Holy Places which he sent shortly after military hostilities had ceased, Goren proposed that
the prime minister should declare that the holy places of the Jews be placed under rabbinic supervision. All the Temple Mount is holy to the Jews and therefore it is in the jurisdiction of the Chief Rabbinate even though mosques were built there. Since it is forbidden for Jews and non-Jews alike to enter the Temple Mount the Chief Rabbinate should request the army to close the Temple Mount for everybody. This step should be taken immediately [Goren’s emphasis] before the military curfew is lifted and before free access is given. Now the Arabs are in a state of shock, and their only hope is to stay alive and not be massacred. Now is the moment to set the conditions and basis for the status quo proposed. Through such a step, the exclusive Muslim rule on the Mount will be circumvented. Later it will not be possible to do anything. If this proposal comes from the rabbinate rather than the government it will be seen as a religious matter of holiness rather than a political idea. And since entry will be forbidden for Jews, the Arabs cannot claim discrimination.
Such a ban, which could have lasted years, would have given the Chief Rabbinate time to study the problem including clarifying which areas are permitted to enter and which are not. Goren added that “if the Arabs are suspicious it is possible to give them El Aqsa.”
But Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin overruled him. The Temple Mount was placed under the control of the Jordanian waqf and the Western Wall was left for Jewish prayer. Later, Rabbi Goren tried to change the status quo, but many rabbis opposed him as did most of the political echelon. The Temple Mount in effect remained under Muslim control despite theoretical Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem.
Since then, the waqf has excavated and built illegally, destroying archaeological evidence of a historical Jewish temple, and Israel has done nothing. Jews are permitted to go up to the Mount, but may not pray there — a Jew was arrested (by Israeli police) for trying to wave a lulav (a device woven from the ‘four species’ in observance of Sukkot) this week, and Jews have been reported by waqf officials for moving their lips.
Any Jewish activity in the area is cause for Arab riots. There is constant incitement of the Muslim population in mosques and by the Islamic Movement of Raed Saleh. ‘Peace’ proposals made to the Palestinians have included sovereignty over the Temple Mount — why not, since Israel has long since surrendered it.
Jewish soldiers died to take back all of Jerusalem, not just part of it. Rabbi Goren was right, Dayan and Rabin wrong. Mistake no. 1.
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