Israel's Sacred Places

[Bernard J. Shapiro, Executive Director - Freeman Center]

Summary ... One thing is clear to me: the Lord has blessed Israel by re-uniting Jerusalem and bringing Judea, Samaria and Gaza back under its control. Israel holds these lands as a sacred trust for the Jewish people in perpetuity.

When the late Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres signed the Oslo Accords on the White House lawn (September 1993), they initiated a process whereby Israel would lose control of its Sacred Places and its Holy Land. Even before Oslo, Moshe Dayan had surrendered the most sacred of Jewish Holy Places, the Temple Mount, to the Arabs. There is much more involved here than politics as ususal. I believe that there is something terribly dangerous about the removal of the Jews from their Sacred Places.

All over the world, from Stonehenge in England to the great temples of India, one finds Holy Places with great mystical power for the people who inhabit those lands. Some shrines of the East draw believers from across the globe. The power of these places can not be explained scientifically. One only needs to step onto Mount Abu in India to feel the presence of great mystical forces. And then there is Banares, the Hindu's Holy City of Light casting a warm glow over the sacred Ganges river.

Islam arose in the 7th century on the foundation of a pagan (Meccan) religion that worshiped a large black stone, known as the Kaaba. Muhammad learned the rudiments of Judaism from the many Jews living in Arabia. He created the Islamic religion by re-writing the Jewish Holy Scriptures (calling it the Koran) and fusing it with the local pagan customs. One pagan concept became horribly significant as Islam spread both east and west across the world. The reverence for the Kaaba and the belief that Arab power derived from it became a brutal principle in the conquest of other peoples. As Islam was spread by the sword, the Sacred Places of conquered peoples were destroyed and occupied.

It became a standard practice to destroy an Indian, Persian, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Jewish or Christian temple and build a mosque on its ruins. This was always interpreted by historians as a kind of one-upmanship; a way to demonstrate the superiority of Islam and humiliate the defeated. Koenraad Elst in his recent book, Negationism in India, writes: "In all the lands it conquered, Islam has replaced indigenous places of worship with mosques. In Iran, there are no ancient Zoroastrians or Manichean shrines left. In Central Asia, there are no Buddhist temples left. Similarly, in India (except the far South where Islam penetrated rather late) there are practically no Hindu temples that have survived the Muslim period (over 10,000 destroyed). But there are thousands of mosques built on the foundations of Hindu temples (for example, the Ayodhya temple)." In my opinion, this Islamic behavior was more than an exhibition of cruel superiority. It was based on the pagan belief that they would acquire the power of the defeated peoples by absorbing their Holy Places and making them theirs.

Let's see how these forces play out in the Arab war of extermination against the Jewish people (incorrectly called the Arab-Israeli Conflict). After Israel was conquered by the Arabs armies, the Temple Mount was used to build the Mosque of Omar (Dome of the Rock) and the al-Aska Mosque. While Jerusalem is not mentioned even once in the Koran, modern Arabs make great pretense by claiming it as one of their holy sites. This, of course, is nonsense.

The Arab claim that each and every Jewish Holy Place is rightfully theirs has become quite common and accepted by the Western media. First Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, then Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs, and on to the Tomb of Joseph (Nablus), the Tomb of Rachel (Bethlehem) and more.

The Western Wall, the last remaining remnant of Solomon's Temple and sacred to Jews for over 2,000 years, had been in Jordanian-controlled Jerusalem since 1949. The Jordanians, acting with malice aforethought, had denied Jews access to their sacred Holy Place. I visited the Wall for the first time in 1967. When I placed my hands on this magnificent relic of our forefathers, I felt a surge of light and energy the likes of which I had never known. In what had to have been but the flash of a second, I felt at one with Jews from all periods of history. At the Passover Seder, we are told to thank G-d for delivering us from Egypt as though we ourselves had been brought out of bondage. At that moment in Jerusalem, this Seder message was very real for me.

In an instant, I saw the continuity of Jewish history and its unbreakable connection with Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel). I understood how modern Israel is the beginning of the Third Temple Period and the spiritual heir to Joshua, Saul, David, Solomon, the Maccabees and Bar Kokhba. I frequently write about the security reasons for incorporating Judea, Samaria and Gaza into the body of Israel. There is another side to this issue and that is the spiritual-religious side.

The truth, which many find inconvenient, is that the Land of Israel was promised by G-d to Abraham and his seed in perpetuity. The Land of Israel is not speculative real estate to be bartered away for some high-sounding (false) promises of peace. The hills and valleys of Judea and Samaria contain the collective memory of the Jewish people. It was here that the Israelites first entered the Holy Land. And it was here they fought the battles, built the towns, elected their kings and were preached to by their prophets and judges. And it was on this soil that they wrote the Holy Scriptures we call our Bible.

In my blinding flash of insight at the Wall, I also understood that Israel on its own soil was more powerful than the sum of its weapons and men. Jews who had wandered the earth powerless for two millenniums attained great power when re-united with the soil of Israel.

What about the Arabs? They are destroying the Jewish people by taking over their Sacred Land. There is something very real and awe inspiring about the Jewish connection to Eretz Yisrael and the Arabs know it and seek to destroy that mystical connection. With profound stupidity and avarice, the political Left in Israel is cooperating with this evil project. And worse, some religious Jews and members of the Right are also going along with the dismemberment of Israel. Some say it will save lives to appease the Arabs. Foolishness. The predatory Arabs already smell victory and each new concession makes their lust for Jewish blood grow.

Wouldn't the Arabs object to the removal of the Mosque of Omar (Dome of the rock) and the al-Aqsa mosque from the Temple Mount? Of course they would, but they have no legitimate rights in the area. There is no reason the sovereign State of Israel needs to allow this desecration of Jewish Holy Places to continue. Today, on the Mount, the Arabs are supreme. They are destroying all archaeological remnants of Jewish sites. They are storing weapons in their mosques to kill Jews.

One thing is clear to me: the Lord has blessed Israel by re-uniting Jerusalem and bringing Judea, Samaria and Gaza back under its control. It would be a horrendous sin against G-d and common sense for Israel to renounce this inheritance to which it is entitled. Israel holds these lands as a sacred trust for the Jewish people in perpetuity.

It would not only be sinful, but also criminal, to abuse that trust by denying future generations of Jews their Holy Land Land of their Fathers; the one tiny spot on planet earth given to them by G-d.

[ Published: November 19, 2003/Reprinted: July 28, 2004 ]



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