Conversations (2)

Yes, it was, as history had compellingly indicated the necessity of the establishment of the Jewish State and it had been ratified by both the League of Nations and the nascent UN. There has been no such indication concerning the Temple Mount.

Of course the Shabak protects you. It does not protect the poor fellow in Armon HaNetziv who may have died on your account.

Thank you for beginning the conversation. Your short comments are founded on many unsubstantiated and, in many ways, problematic assumptions. So before I respond I need to clarify a few points. First, Zionism as “miracle” is not self-evident nor can it ever be substantiated one way or the other. To found a position of certainly on an unsubstantiated claim is problematic in any reasoned argument. Second, even if I grant you the “miraculous” nature of the founding of the state, its messianic import is far from self-evident. Mind you, this is not questioning the sanctity of the land for Jews. One needn’t be a Zionist to affirm that. The Satmar Rebbe affirmed that the land of Israel was sacred territory for the Jews and yet he rejected the notion that Zionism is in any way a concretization of that sanctity. In fact he argued the opposite.

In any event, from a halakhic perspective there is a lot of evidence that ascending Har Ha-Bayit for Jews is forbidden. We all know that. To set aside those adjudications (which I am open to doing) would require a claim. Your claim is that this is the unfolding of the final redemption. I reject that claim and thus the exception you are suggesting has no foundation to stand on from my point of view.

So now the question of whether Jews should be allowed to pray there is no longer a question of a messianic exception but one of justice and Realpolitik. In theory, if one wants to set aside the overwhelming evidence of the halakhic prohibition I am open to an argument that Jews, like Muslims, should be able to pray there. But now we enter into questions of precedent, safety, and the claims of injustice from the other side in terms of citizenship, rights, resources, etc. Here Yosef’s point is relevant.

Changing the status quo is an act that will invariably have consequences. Those potential consequences must be weighed against the benefits. The consequences are the exacerbation of an already volatile situation, one strong reading might be a case of pikuah nefesh (the primacy of preserving life). The benefits are that some people who have a burning desire to pray at Har Ha-Bayit will be able to do so. I respect your burning desire although I reject it as based on anything more than your own imagined notion of Zionism’s messianic import, which I, and others, reject. The desire of a few should not endanger the safety of the many. More relevant, though, is that changing the status quo is simply another indication that any just compromise in regards to territory and political rights of the Palestinian becomes less possible. That will certainly cause a reaction from those whose rights are being erased. Now, given that I see in you a quasi-apocalyptic orientation (I do not say that judgmentally) you may welcome that development. But many, perhaps, most Israelis would not. The Sicarii in Temple times acted out against the rule of law for similar reasons. Their fate is well known.

So it seems to me the argument for Jewish presence at Har Ha-Bayit is based on two premises: First, a messianic one which I reject. Second, an argument based on “justice” or even “civil rights” which I have more sympathy for in principle except for the fact that in regards to Arabs in Israel and the West Bank, for Jews to argue that their civil rights are being violated in Israel (a common argument in the settler community these days) is based on a premise that I do not agree with, to wit, that the land belongs to the Jews (by what right I am not quite sure) and thus we should have more natural and legal rights than the Arabs who dwell there. For those who do not accept the premises of that claim (and there are many, inside and outside Israel) the cry of injustice does not resonate as a convincing argument. What then is your argument for changing the status quo on Har Ha-Bayit?

Fellow cast-members - and the hundreds of you in the audience that our analytics tell us have been following (really!) – I want to alert you that we’re bringing this conversation to a close in the next 24 hours; in this context, at least. We/You have covered an incredible amount of ground.


With the end of the week approaching (it will be Shabbat here in Jerusalem in just a few hours), do you have any final thoughts? Is there something that’s surfaced here that you want people to hold on to? Is there a last thought that this conversation has provoked that you want to share?

Give us your best final shot!

Welcome to CASJE’s second-ever blogcast!

Over the next few days, a fascinating group – our cast - will undertake an online conversation about Hebrew Language Education in North America. Building on previous efforts of CASJE, we’ll be especially interested in exploring how research can help advance this often challenged field.

There are many different Hebrews, and many different purposes to learning Hebrew; what’s it all about for you? What fuels your passion for this language?