Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick will receive the "Lion of Zion" Moskowitz Prize for Zionism on Tuesday, May 19. While JewishIsrael has personally expressed reservations to Yehuda regarding his campaign for "equal rights" for all religions on the Temple Mount, JewishIsrael congratulates Yehuda on his award and commends him for his courage, commitment and dedication.
JewishIsrael's directors had the opportunity to meet at length with Yehuda in his home just before Pesach. It was a cordial and productive meeting. We very much appreciated Yehuda and his wife welcoming and hosting us and giving us their attention at such a hectic time of year. Anita Tucker, a past recipient of the Moskowitz prize was present at the meeting in her capacity as JewishIsrael's Community Affairs Adviser.
For years it was universally understood that the Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest site in Islam. The dual claims have made the location one of the most contentious spots in the world. Ironically, it is thanks to Jewish leadership that in recent years Christendom has thrown its hat into the ring – with everyone from mega-pastors to messianics to media personalities waiting for jesus to reign on the mount.
Christian programming, focused on end times, frequently associates jesus and Christian prophecy with the Temple, as do Christian personalities in Hebraic roots "educational" videos. Messianic Christian preachers are actively running campaigns to ensure that "Jewish sovereignty" includes the rights for Christian worship on the Temple Mount.
Things are getting especially complicated, because it is Jewish leadership which is encouraging Christians and endorsing messianic Christian campaigns "for Jewish rights". As an example, Yisrael Medad of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center has wholeheartedly endorsed the Cry for Zion movement, which is promoting a Christ-centered agenda under the banner of religious freedom.
Israelis should not play the religious freedoms card to the point where democracy and freedom is equated with a condition where Christian beliefs or modes of worship, which run contrary to Judaism, can be spread without restraint in the Jewish State or practiced at Judaism's holiest site. In such a case Israel would become a nation where religious freedom becomes religious tyranny and the integrity of Judaism itself would be at risk.
Yehudah Glick speaks of "equal rights for all on the Temple Mount", as he did in a Times of Israel blog preceding the Israeli election, but he goes even further by endorsing the Temple Mount as a holy site for Christians in this interview with Bob O'Dell co-founder of Root Source, a forum for Israeli Jews who teach Christians about Judaism:
O'Dell asks Glick, "What is it that Christians don’t know about the Temple Mount and really should know?"
Glick responds, exclaiming excitedly that “Christianity began on the Temple Mount". He goes on to speak of Jesus as an "Orthodox Jew", relays parables from the new testament and makes it clear that the Temple Mount is holy to Christians.
The Recognition for the Need to Establish Red Lines and Guidelines
At JewishIsrael's meeting with Yehudah Glick, we broached the concept of theological red lines and explained to Yehuda that, at its inception, JewishIsrael had developed a suggested set of guidelines for approaching relations with the evangelical community. Foreseeing a number of problems in the burgeoning theological alliance, we formulated a proposal under the guidance of our Rabbinic Director Rabbi Sholom Gold, which drew from Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik Z"L's letters and essays on the issue of interfaith relations.
In November 2008, JewishIsrael presented these guidelines to key figures in the Orthodox Union (OU) in protest of a resolution on "Working in Coalition with Evangelical Christians" that was to be presented at the OU's biannual Convention in Jerusalem. As a result of JewishIsrael’s campaign and lobbying efforts, the resolution was withdrawn.
But that was seven years ago, and since then Christian messianic groups are becoming increasingly entrenched in Israel's community, political and spiritual life. How the State of Israel will choose to address the issue of religious freedom in a Jewish state is especially thorny given the current climate of persecution of Christians in a number of Arab countries in the region.
With all of this in mind, JewishIsrael realized the necessity to expand upon its original guidelines. JewishIsrael closed the meeting with Yehuda Glick by committing to draft an expanded set of guidelines which would address the issues of religious freedom, the Temple Mount, and the Jewish approach to Christian alliances given the current climate in the Middle East.
We have once again sat with Rabbi Sholom Gold and have prepared the following addendum to our proposal. Yehuda Glick has been sent these suggestions and we hope he takes them into consideration and incorporates them as a part of his essential work towards securing Jewish sovereignty and the Jewish right to worship on the Temple Mount.
ADDENDUM, MAY 18 2015
It runs contrary to Jewish values and a normative understanding of Judaism and its prophetic teachings to endorse Temple-oriented endeavors with non-Jewish leaders, sects and organizations who have a christ-centered agenda for the Temple Mount.
JewishIsrael strongly urges refraining from actions and statements which seemingly embolden, legitimize, and empower Christianity’s claim to the Temple Mount, such as:
JewishIsrael urges the Israeli government, diplomats and Jewish leadership to dismiss any discussions regarding a special status for evangelical churches and other evangelizing sects in Israel.
JewishIsrael strongly suggests that the Israeli government and influential Jewish leaders and organizations reframe the concept of religious freedom and freedom of worship in a manner which is halachically acceptable, which ensures Jewish sovereignty and which preserves the integrity of Eretz Yisrael.
When discussing church persecution and attacks by Muslims against Christians it is essential that Jews emphasize the struggle for a moral and civil society, humanity and basic human rights, rather than be trapped into advocating Christendom and the spread of Christianity.