Tuesday, January 21, 2014

“I Am Ashamed!” by Rabbi Yaakov Luft

Transmitted by Yehudah Glick as told in first person by Rabbi Yaakov Luft:
(Translation by Dr. Mike Cohen)

Rabbi Luft: “About a month ago I ascended the Temple Mount as part of an interfaith group of some 30 members of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish clergy. This particular group was invited to The Mount and greeted there by the Mufti of Jerusalem as representives of The Universal Peace Federation (http://www.upf.org/) a global network of individuals and organizations dedicated to building a world of peace centered on universal spiritual and moral values called which was holding its international interfaith conference in Jerusalem.

The Waqf provided us with a guide who gave a detailed history of Jerusalem which followed the narrative as printed in the fliers we were handed. During the Q&A the guide was asked “Why can this holy gathering pray together, each according to his own faith and custom, everywhere we visit in the Holy Land - the Western Wall and in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre included - but is prevented from doing so here on the Temple Mount, the holiest and most important place on Earth for the Jewish people?”

Our guide responded that the question itself was “hostile” and “illegitimate” since the entire goal of the Jews was to “take control of the holy sites of others” as the Jews have “nothing holy in Jerusalem, not even the Western Wall.”

Among the guests were five or six Jews. The Waqf representative met us at the Shalshelet Gate and, in full earshot of the foreign guests, made sure to inform us that no ascension would be allowed for people wearing a kipa (Jewish skullcap) but that a generic - non-symbolic hat was permissible. I struggled with the insulting concept of having to cover my traditional head covering in order to comply with the Waqfs ban on religious Jewish symbols vs the value in being part of the group and being able to challenge the warped narrative. There were significant leaders from around the world with us, including important Christian leaders from the United States so I decided to suffer the humiliation in order to achieve the greater goal of making sure the tough questions were asked and the intellectually insulting answers were heard by all.

The entire group of international pastors, priests and sheiks heard the Waqf guide deny any Jewish connection to Jerusalem in general and the Temple Mount in particular. They saw the Waqf representatives single out the religious Jews for individual humiliation. They heard the revisionist narrative as well as the Waqf instructions not to touch any of the prayer books or Qurans in the mosque as the touch of a non-Muslim “contaminates” the books.

At the conclusion of the visit a sheik from Norway approached me with tears in his eyes and admitted “I am ashamed.”

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