Ellis Washington is a former staff editor of the Michigan Law Review and law clerk at the Rutherford Institute. He is a professor of Constitutional Law, Legal Ethics, and Contracts at the National Paralegal College, a counselor at the American College of Education, and a founding board member of Salt and Light Global. Washington is a co-host of "Joshua's Trial," a radio show of Christian conservative thought. A graduate of JohnMore ↓Less ↑
Excavating near the Temple Mount isn’t worth fighting for. – Anon (popular Israeli sentiment)
Is there not a cause? – David
I am four things – I am a black man, an American, an academic without a home, and a lover of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. Years ago I made a vow to dedicate my career and my talents to defending the Jewish people and proclaiming the truth about this great nation. This article is my feeble but earnest attempt in this regard.
The Six Day War began on June 5, 1967, 40 years ago, with a pre-emptive attack by Israel against Egypt due to Egypt’s increasing bellicose, anti-Israel rhetoric, Gen. Nasser’s banishment of Israel from using the Suez Canal, and troop movements that seemed poised to attack Israel’s southern flank. Israel’s response was so swift, fierce and legendary that by day three Israeli forces were at the base of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Later that day, Israeli armies ascended the Temple Mount by defeating a confederation of six Arab armies. Truly it was a blessed day for the nation of Israel as Gen. Uzi Narkiss hoisted up the Israel flag at their holiest site. Yet, in subsequent days, as the politicians sorted through the ramifications of the victory, there is tension, there is fear, there is hesitation, there is a lost opportunity to secure that holiest Jewish site – a lost opportunity that may never again be seized. The actual events are narrated below:
Israel conquered the Old City of Jerusalem on the third day of the Six Day War, in June 1967. The paratroopers were overcome with emotion upon entering the Jewish Holy Places from which they had been banished 2,000 years ago by the Romans.
[Defense Minister Moshe] Dayan marched triumphantly to the Temple Mount. There he suggested to [Gen. Uzi] Narkiss that part of the Old City walls be pulled down – an ancient practice symbolizing conquest. Rabbi [Shlomo] Goren also had an idea: In preparation for the imminent Messianic era, the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] should utilize the explosives it had on hand and demolish the Temple Mount’s mosques. Narkiss ignored both proposals.
To my Israeli friends I ask: Why didn’t the Jews finish the job and take over the entire Temple Mount area 40 years ago? After all, was not this their birthright? Was not this the area where in the Bible Abraham was to sacrifice his son Isaac but at the last moment the Angel of the Lord stayed his hand? Was not this the site where David, Israel’s greatest king, endeavored to build the first Temple, which was built by his son, Israel’s second greatest king, Solomon? Was not this the same Temple Mount where another Temple was rebuilt bigger and more gloriously in the first century A.D. by Herod the Great? Then surely if there were any site in Israel worth fighting for, worth exercising sovereignty over, for re-establishing the Temple Mount as the center of Jewish worship in all of Israel, then it was this area. Why is Israel afraid to be Israel?
The Palestinians, Israel’s sworn enemies and fellow countrymen, have an interesting and diabolical way of influencing the marketplace of ideas in Israel and in the international community, and imposing their will over a much stronger people, the Jews – public policy by temper tantrum. This policy was on great display in February of this year at the Temple Mount where archeologists of the Israel Ministry of Housing are shoring up a bridge that collapsed in 2004 due to heavy snow. The Israel Antiquities Authority is concurrently excavating ancient artifacts in the area. This bridge would give the Jews access to the Temple Mount area to worship at the Wailing Wall. The archeologists have assured the Palestinians that the dig will not in any way disturb the foundation of the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque, which is Muslim’s third-holiest site in the world.
The response from the Muslim world both in Israel and abroad has been swift, predictable and violent. For example The Committee of Muslim Scholars and the Islamic Action Front, Jordan’s largest political opposition group, immediately responded in a statement whereby they “urge[d] … proclaiming jihad to liberate Al Aqsa and save it from destruction and sabotage from Jewish usurpers.” Also, Arab regimes that refuse to concede to their demands to save the Al Aqsa mosque by force will be attacked starting with King Abdullah of Jordan, said the Islamic Action Front.
For weeks now, Palestinians Muslims have executed virtually continuous attacks in east Jerusalem at or near the Temple Mount area in protest of the bridge reconstruction and archeological excavation, which in the Old City is mandated by Israeli law. For example, on Feb. 20, Arab protesters were arrested for rioting, and violence was caught on photo and video. A week later, terrorists in Gaza set off bombs near the separation barriers as soldiers approached – and on and on and on.
Israel must ask themselves this question: Why is Israel afraid to be Israel? Three thousand years ago on the wind-swept hills of Judea, Israel’s future greatest king, then just a lowly anonymous shepherd boy of 16, saw the armies of Israel cowering in their bunkers listening to the daily taunts and blasphemies of this 9 foot 6 inch Philistine champion, Goliath. David, shocked at his own people’s cowardice and indifference to defend their own national heritage in the face of this pagan, uncircumcised enemy that David believed in his heart could be easily vanquished, asked a most sublime and profound question – Is there not a cause?
Indeed, if Israel doesn’t have a cause, yea, as Prime Minister Begin iterated, even a God-ordained right “to all of Israel,” then surely no nation on earth can claim a better title to any land in its possession. Therefore, what should Israel do to be Israel? The same thing David did when he made Israel the greatest and most powerful nation at that time: 1) Conquer or neutralize all of your surrounding enemies; 2) Define and secure your boarders; 3) Withdraw membership from the United Nations, because this so-called “neutral” international organization has always been one of Israel’s greatest enemies and has been complicit with Arab states to bring about Israel’s destruction since the U.N. was called the League of Nations in the early 1920s; 4) Immediate deportation of all Palestinians that refuse to sign a statement of sole allegiance to Israel (a mandated loyalty oath), starting with the political leadership of Fatah and Hamas; and 5) Annex Gaza and the so-called West Bank (which is actually greater Judea) and make all of Israel one united country again.
To Israel and to the Jews whom I love, I end with this message – You have been in the wilderness for 40 years; 40 years since your great victory in June 1967 – The Six Day War. Forty is the number of testing, of judgment, of wandering, of wandering around this sacred site of your forefathers. The Temple Mount is Israel’s birthright. As boy David asked King Saul, “Is there not a cause?” Indeed, there is. Israel must reclaim all of Israel beginning with the Temple Mount, and Israel must never be afraid to be Israel again.