One of the holiest places on earth for both Jews and Muslims is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, but recent events have shown a troubling surge in anti-Semitism. Both sides have expressed concern over the Israeli government’s limitations on non-Muslim visitors to the Temple Mount during Ramadan and Passover. This article will delve into this alarming trend, looking at the reasons for the restrictions, the current situation, and what can be done to prevent anti-Semitism from taking hold in this revered location.
Iran established “Quds Day” as an annual celebration in 1979 to show support for Palestinians who are subject to Israeli occupation. Outside of Israel and Iran, it is not observed, although in 2017, around 300,000 Arabs attended Quds Day at the Temple Mount, with some displaying overt anti-Semitism. These acts of disdain heightened tensions between Muslims and Jews in the days leading up to Passover last year, when Arab violence increased and over 300 individuals were arrested, while Muslims threw bread—forbidden on Jewish holidays—along paths even though it didn’t coincide with Ramadan.
The Israeli government imposed limitations on non-Muslim visitors to the Temple Mount during Ramadan and Passover in reaction to these alarming developments. This includes prohibiting all visitors for the final 10 days of Ramadan and restricting non-Muslim visitors’ access to the site for only four hours each morning from Sunday through Thursday. This stance was denounced by Tom Nisani as a “surrender” that would only strengthen extreme forces among Arabs who are already antagonistic toward Jews.
Despite these repression efforts, many have argued that they are nothing more than a stopgap measure meant to appease both sides without addressing the root causes of the unrest at one of Judaism’s holiest sites, namely, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and endemic anti-Semitism in some Arab communities who use holidays like Quds Day as an excuse for their bigotry. There must be more robust policies put in place that prevent access by those who are proven threats while also giving Israelis adequate security protection against potential attacks during times when lax security is needed to combat this growing problem. First, there must be increased education efforts to teach young people tolerance while also addressing anxiety brought on by ongoing military activities within Palestine.
The situation at the Temple Mount is still precarious, but if we band together, we can prevent anti-Semitism from taking root there and instead foster a climate where Muslims and Jews can live in harmony despite their differences. If we don’t act now, we could later suffer serious repercussions in terms of interfaith relations within Israel itself.