Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made considerable efforts in the last two weeks to prove that Israel is meticulously maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount.
After negotiating with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and indirectly with Jordan’s King Abdulllah, Netanyahu agreed to have cameras installed on the Mount. He also admitted, by implication, that Jews have no right to pray at the site. Netanyahu also rebuked Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who spoke about the issue, and MK Basel Ghattas, who visited the site.
But a careful examination of the government policy’s toward the Temple Mount turns up a contradiction. While officially declaring its commitment to the status quo, the state is aiding and supporting several organizations whose activity is entirely devoted to undermining it.
A report published two years ago by the Ir Amim and Keshev organizations finds that 19 NGOs in Israel deal with the Temple Mount. Some receive financial support from the government. The Mikdash Educational Center, for example, gets hundreds of thousands of shekels a year from the Education Ministry. The center’s activity consists of preparing the temple utensils and priests for the fateful day. But the most important government support is in encouraging students – tens of thousands a year – to visit the Mikdash (Temple) center and in using its study program in the state-religious schools’ curriculum (Or Kashti, Haaretz, October 23).
The program places the reconstruction of the Temple as a goal to strive toward and defines it as “the pinnacle of all humanity’s aspirations.” The meaning of this, in practice, is changing the status quo.
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